May 21, 2014

Newspaper Attacks Social Security ALJ

     The Pennsylvania Record, a newspaper for lawyers, is attacking Social Security Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Charles Bridges for having approved the most Social Security disability claims over the last ten years.


Anonymous said...

not sure how you consider that an "attack." It's factual reporting.

Anonymous said...

I'd say it's an attack in that it insinuates the ALJ is up to no good because he approves so many cases.

I wonder what the ratio of negative articles about high-approvers to low-approvers is?

Matt Berry said...

Brilliant journalism here. First, this judge doesn't have the highest award rate, on a percentage basis, in Pennsylvania, much less the the country; Second, ALJs are not appointed to for life and are not "federal judges" in the way described by the author; $4.6 billion in taxpayer money....which dark orifice did you pull THAT out of? Anyone familiar with the benefits payable will recognize that number as fabricated. Oh, and the "taxpayer money" includes the taxes paid by those claiming benefits. And neither this ALJ nor any other rules at his own discretion without fear of disciplinary action. He is required to follow the law and his decisions are subject to review upon request by a claimant OR the Agency.
Mr. Boyle needs to go back to writing church bulletins.

Anonymous said...

15,279 claimants times an acturial value of $300,000 a claim equates to $4,583,700,000.

The odds of disciplinary action against a high-paying ALJ is quite miniscule. In fact, members of upper management have publicly stated there was nothing that could be done about someone like ALJ Bridges (this is of course a lie).

SSA's recent actions against ALJs have focused on ALJs that management deemed were not productive enough or, in the case of the five judges in Queens, were not paying enough cases (even though four of the five ALJs had pay rates consistent with the national average).

SSA review of favorable decisions is quite minimal. Moreover, RCALJ Bede has stated that a review of ALJ Bridge's cases revealed decisions that were an "embarrassment", but yet nothing has been done.

As someone who has worked for ODAR for the past decade, I can tell you that the management culture is to reward productivity regardless of the cost; there is never enough time to do things right, but always enough time to do things a second time.

Anonymous said...

Old news. Bridges has been doing this for years.

It's not that he grants such a high percentage. It's that he averages 1500 dispositions per year 10 years. I don't care how "nights and weekends" he sifts through cases. No ALJ simply can devote the needed attention to each case averaging that much work.

I consider high granters those over 70-80 percent. I consider low granters under 40 percent. Bridges should not be an ALJ. But neither should the low granters.

I wonder when we see an article about the low granters. #Never

Anonymous said...

"The Pennsylvania Record, a newspaper for lawyers..."

Really. I don't think many Pennsylvania lawyers would accept that description.

If you click on the "About Us" tab on the "newspaper's" web site, you will discover that it is owned by the "Institute for Legal Reform, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce."

This quote will give you an idea of where they are coming from:

"On the flipside, many who drive this country’s economic engine– small businessmen, medical professionals and corporate executives– argue the opposite. They hold that plaintiffs’ attorneys use frivolous lawsuits to game the system and pillage private property. If every state were like ours, they say, America would be out of business."

The article may be factual and correct but, as they say, consider the source.

Anonymous said...

Aside from reacting with impotent indignation to the newspaper article du jour, ODAR management is chiefly focused on forcing employees to meet productivity goals. It operates like a widget factory.

If SSA cared about making the right decision as early in the process as possible, it wouldn't be bleeding FOs at the front end while pumping money into the butt end at the Appeals Council.

Anonymous said...


and it wouldn't be steadfastly hiring, failing to train, and failing to demote "paralegals" who cannot write legally sufficient and defensible decisions. When you consider the ALJs' productivity demands, it becomes very clear just how important it is to have legally trained folks to write their decisions. Not just for the writing itself, but to fill in and smooth over all the little gaps resulting from the ALJs' hasty review/working up/etc. of each case.

Unknown said...


Don't blame the paralegals. If employees are trained correctly and promoted to positions based on MERIT, there wouldn't be a problem. Instead, SSA wants to hire attorneys to do work way below what their JD suggests they should be able to do, and the Agency STILL cannot fix the problem.

AFGE should really be going after the agency for recruiting attorneys to be glorified paralegals.

Anonymous said...

Agreed w/ 5:13.

The paralegals aren't the problem. We have several in our office with lower remand rates and higher production than most AA's and SAA's here.

Writers not having a law degree is not the issue, so don't even go there.