Recently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued the first of two reports looking at Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) who are outliers because of the number of cases they have or have not handled or the number of awards they have handed out. ... The request was made in the wake of a Wall Street Journal article exposing the practices of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in a West Virginia hearing office who granted awards in 1,280 of the 1,284 disability cases he decided.
“As Chair of the Social Security Subcommittee, I am extremely troubled by the enormous freedom this ALJ had in assigning himself cases – and then rubberstamping approval for nearly all of them with no accountability or oversight,” said Sam Johnson (R-TX).Political views and personal biases affecting judicial decisions! I'm shocked! Shocked!
“This report is a real eye opener. How can we trust the fairness of ALJ decisions when even some of their own co-workers say that the decisions could be influenced by the ALJ’s own political views and personal biases? While ALJs must be free to do their jobs without agency interference or reprisal, they are supposed to follow the rules, not make their own. The Subcommittee’s hearing series on securing the future of the disability insurance program will ask the tough questions and seek the right answers in order to ensure that the public is served fairly and that precious taxpayer dollars are not wasted,” added Chairman Johnson.
Let me let Representative Johnson in on a secret that lawyers don't generally share with laypeople. There is no judge whose decisions are completely unaffected by their political views and personal biases. This is especially the case when judges make decisions in cases where there is no clear cut "right" answer. This is more visible in Social Security disability cases because they are unusually difficult to judge.
The same problem is also quite visible at the U.S. Supreme Court. I think that Representative Johnson is quite happy with political views and personal biases affecting judicial decisions when it's, let's say, Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas making the decisions.
In any case, I don't know what report Representative Johnson was reading. The one I read didn't show anything that would shock anyone familiar with Social Security disability hearings. I was under the impression that there wasn't anything like a bombshell in the report.