Mar 24, 2017

No Telework For An ALJ Unless They Schedule 45 Hearings A Month

     Obtained from the ALJ Discussion Forum:
Date: February 15, 2017

To: All HOCALJs [Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judges]

From: Patrick Nagle /s/
Chief Administrative Law Judge
Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge

Robert Jandrlich /s/
Associate Commissioner
Office of Executive Operations and Human Resources

Subject: UPDATE: Telework Requests for IFPTE/AALJ [union that represent ALJs and staff attorneys] Employees – INFORMATION

This guidance applies to all Office of Disability Adjudication and Review bargaining-unit employees covered by the National Agreement between the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, and the Association of Administrative Law Judges, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, AFL-CIO & CLC (IFPTE).

In accordance with Article 15, Section 5A of the 2013 SSA/ODAR-AALJ/IFPTE National Agreement, all administrative law judges (ALJs) who wish to participate in the agency’s telework program should submit their requests and schedules to you by February 28, 2017. You should approve or deny the telework requests by March 14, 2017. ALJs who receive approval for their requests may begin to work their new telework schedules on the first full pay period in April, which begins April 2, 2017.

When reviewing your ALJs’ requests for telework for this next 6-month period, please keep in mind the guidance that we have previously provided regarding what constitutes a “reasonably attainable” number of hearings, and the considerations you should take into account to make that determination. That guidance is contained within the Telework Guidance for HOCALJs document and the Reasonably Attainable Guidance, both of which are in the HOCALJ Telework Guidance library. Judge Bice’s September 2016 guidance stated that an average of 45 to 50 scheduled hearings per month would constitute a “reasonably attainable” number of hearings for the October 2016 through March 2017 telework period. Even prior to the implementation of this telework expectation, ALJs were regularly conducting a minimum of 50 hearings per month and this is a reasonable expectation for all ALJs. Therefore, for this upcoming telework period, April 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017, we will maintain that an average of 50 scheduled hearings per month is a “reasonably attainable” number of hearings.

Please remember that our expectation for all ALJs, teleworking and non-teleworking, is that they issue 500 to 700 legally sufficient dispositions per year; their scheduling of hearings should therefore be commensurate with this goal. To that end, please review carefully the Reasonably Attainable Guidance as you consider an ALJ’s telework request, and please take into account those circumstances that apply to that ALJ. If no such circumstances apply, an average of 50 hearings a month will be considered to be a “reasonably attainable” number of hearings. An ALJ who does not meet this expectation may have his/her telework restricted.

Please continue monitoring cases in judge-controlled status that may be “seriously delinquent.” You will find further guidance on addressing delinquent cases in the Addressing Delinquent Cases folder in the HOCALJ Telework Guidance library.

SIGN 10 days or greater
EDIT 30 days or greater
ARPR/ARFL and ALPO/ALFL 30 days or greater

As a reminder, effective October 9, 2015, Judges must use the Virtual Private Network (VPN) software on their device for all Telework. If an ALJ does not comply with this requirement, he/she is no longer eligible for telework and must wait until the next request period to apply for telework.

Before removing an ALJ from telework, please have a collegial conversation and explain the importance of using technology/the laptop as part of telework. You may consult with your regional attorney or labor and employee relations specialist for the next steps and to ensure we are addressing these issues consistently.

If you have any questions, please contact _____________, in the Division of Quality Service, at (888) 238-_______ ext. _________


Anonymous said...

It was 45.its now 50

Anonymous said...

this is true.

Anonymous said...

Headline is wrong, it is 50 cases a month. They are looking for 600 a year, which means an ALJ could have to do 60 a month if they had been with the Agency more than 15 years (26 days vacation), 10 Federal holidays, and a week or more of training. This is nuts and everything is going to hell in a hand basket. There is not enough support staff to develop records or pull cases as it is. Quality will go to hell rapidly. Moral is at an all time low and the Judges will take it out on the reps. You damn well better be prepared to deliver an outstanding case as you will no longer be able to count on getting the benefit of the doubt.

Anonymous said...

Is it schedule or hold? These are lawyers, you bet they are looking for a loophole.

Anonymous said...


It's schedule

So yes, I would predict a lot of "postponements" upcoming

Anonymous said...

In Georgia, it seems that very few of the ALJs have been able to meet the production goals. Some are well short. I have been waiting for the right opportunity in a hearing, when the issue is allowable time absent/off task, to say to a VE, "So, is it your testimony that if a worker is supposed to produce 500 widgets a day, and they can only do 400 on an on-going basis, that would mean that they would not be allowed to continue that job?"

Anonymous said...

If it is schedule then that's an easy criteria to meet. We have one ALJ who routinely continues hearings, only after making the claimant and rep appear, stating that he hasn't had an opportunity to review records that were submitted over 2 weeks prior. His staff curiously fails to move them from case docs into the exhibit folder until the night before the hearing. This is such a common occurrence that I have to prepare my clients for it ahead of time.

Anonymous said...

Headline is wrong its not NO telework HOCALJ still has total discretion all the language is 'may' have telework revoked and 'guidance'

This is good for reps. Reps don't want quality. Reps wants favorables. Favorables are faster, faster to edit, faster to dispose of.. its hilarious to watch ALJs freak out like theyre going to quit or something

What if I told you that you could have a government job where you work 40 hours per week with 20+ days paid vacation and 10 paid federal holidays per year that pays you 170k per year with health, dental, life, pension and 401k match and allows you to work from home 2 days per week. Oh and by the way, you are not performance rated and have no real supervisor. Pipe down before Mick Mulvaney finds out how sweet your gig is and lays the smack down.

Anonymous said...

Without getting into the pros and cons of the 50/month debate, it's clear that the first part of this statement from the above memo is either patently untrue or completely misleading - which means that the conclusion is unsupported:

"Even prior to the implementation of this telework expectation, ALJs were regularly conducting a minimum of 50 hearings per month and this is a reasonable expectation for all ALJs."

Anonymous said...

telework is literally their only carrot

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with 11:59 on this. It'll be good for reps. Some judges are more likely to go with favorables to cut down on post-hearing work, and the judges that don't likely won't spend nearly as much time fixing poor drafts, so the unfavorables will be more easily appealed.

And yes, it is absurd that so many of us whine about how hard this job is, particularly when we meet with so many people that have done much more grueling work for many more hours in their lives, whether it's roofing, mining, CNA, general construction, etc. Even comparing the job requirements to those of private practice attorneys is ridiculous.

L.Jefferson said...

Looking for a social security attorney asap

Anonymous said...

@ 11:59- Amen. Whining incessantly for having to do the same job others do for GS-12 (and even the GS-12s are overpaid).

Anonymous said...

I think you guys miss the point. It's not about whether a judge can schedule 30, 40, or 50 hearings a month. It's whether a judge can actually adequately prepare for the number of hearings that the agency requires. In my office, the medical records average 500 pages per case. The non-medical records average 300 pages per case. So to prepare for 50 hearings, one would need to review 25,000-40,000 pages per month. If one were to never take a vacation or sick day, that would equate to having to review 1136-1818 pages per day (22 work days average per calendar month). Now lets say you held hearings every other day. That would mean that on non-hearing days, you would need to review 2272-3636 pages of records, just to keep up. That allows 15 seconds to read each page of medical records (8 seconds if you read the entire file) if you never look up from the computer, or God forbid, take a bathroom break.

Taking aside whether judges are overpaid or should be thankful just to have a job, do those numbers seem reasonable or possible to anyone here? Now sure, you can take short cuts and not review the full record. But these are peoples' health and welfare that are on the line. And from the taxpayer's perspective, each disability award costs the federal government an average of $300,000 over the course of a lifetime. Do you really want judges to take shortcuts or just eyeball the claimants to ascertain disability? Because that is what the agency is asking judges to do by setting the current production requirements. This will gradually bring down the backlog, but it will not promote full and fair hearings.

Anonymous said...

The above numbers don't take into account vacations, holidays, sick days, training days, meetings with managers and other staff, creating instructions for decision writers, editing decisions, etc. The time left to review the record is significantly less than even the paltry numbers noted above. I try to review every page of the medical records, and because of that I find notes regarding undocumented work, doctor visits linked to drug seeking behavior (opioid addiction or the selling of opioids when the UDS comes up negative for opioids), people attending college full-time with good grades seeking to cancel student debt due to disability, people refusing to work to avoid child support payments, and various other instances of fraudulent behavior.

The less time I have to review the record, the greater chance I don't spot these issues. At best, I make a mistake that results in a waste of taxpayer money. At worst, I miss a low ejection fraction, or an MRI note, or an obscure denervation disease, or a million other diagnoses and a claimant suffers needlessly or dies.

While 11:59 would rather I "pipe down" because of my "sweet gig," I think the better course is for people to realize that it's not about numbers. This is an important process that should not be skewed to make some political appointee look good for getting more widgets out the door.

Anonymous said...

9:57 and guys are spot on. I've been crowing about this for years, but no one wants to hear it. If you can't properly review the record pre-hearing, you can't ask intelligent and pertinent questions at the hearing. You can't address issues raised in the record because you missed them by not having adequate time to review. The result is an inadequate hearing, failure to flesh out all issues, and all too often an incorrect decision. In turn, this requires others to "fix" the case post-hearing, if that's even possible - creating further delay. My God, it's as plain as the nose on your face. But the bean counters upstairs remain willfully oblivious.

Anonymous said...

Want 50 a month, pay ALJs by the case. Piece work like they say the disabled can do when the VE points to some obscure job. Miss the goal by 50% get 50% pay, 80% of goal 80% pay. Lower than 49% get introduced to the UE office in your area. Solved

Anonymous said...

From top down, 10:07; 9;57; 11:49; and 9:17 are all SPOT-ON!

This is the result of known, documented, failed management policies, which continue to perpetuate because SSA/ODAR continues to place individuals such as Ollie Garmon, III, in the highest Labor Management Employee Relations Office despite his long track record of Labor Management violations, engagement in Unfair Labor Practices and PPP's, to name only a few. As long as you have the highest level Agency officials patting individuals like Garmon on the back, repeatedly placing said individuals in the highest level Labor Management Employee Relations positions despite track records which clearly indicate these individuals persist in pushing failed management policies of tester year, backlogs be damned, nothing is going to change. Those in the top inner circle of SSA/ODAR Management, protect and shield one another from any and all accountability, whether it be wrongdoing or failed management policies, and their actions intimate they passively agree to promote and push management policies which they very well know have failed miserably in the past.

I have watched this group function for nearly 30 years. As long as like minded favorite, "yes" people who are afraid to question failed management policies, and do not feel comfortable offering other creative, intuitive ways of better managing SSA/ODAR for fear of losing their high paying, power jobs and ridiculous bonuses, this stupid, idiotic charade will persist. Those in Garmon's inner circle are just like him. They should have been terminated from management years ago. Instead, for reasons which defy all explanation, these individuals are cow-towed to by the highest level Agency officials, including political appointees, as was the case with Garmon and Colvin, and treated like pedestals on a mantle.

It is this highest level inner circle of Agency management where the swamp must be drained. So long as these individuals maintain all the power to decide which parts of the swamp need draining, I guarantee you they will NEVER decide it is any of them who must leave.

For the record, SCOTUS issued a decision last week which indicates all decisions made by individuals who were allowed to function in Acting capacities while they were also nominated by the President to be Agency Heads, once confirmed, are no longer valid and are subject to review. This means Colvin's unprecedented actions in protecting Garmon and others from being held accountable for misconduct and wrongdoing are NO LONGER VALID!!!! Thus, the Hearings Office relocated near Garmon's home, his placement as a top executive in OLMER, and the Agency's failure to hold him and others accountable are NO LONGER VALID DECISIONS. This also includes certain Labor Management determinations.

Anonymous said...


Ollie Garmon, III, was recently promoted to ASSOCIATE CALJ.

You want to know why SSA/ODAR is is such a mess? They keep promoting the least competent, deeply flawed individuals with long, documented track records of wrongdoing and misconduct to even higher levels of management.

This is beyond contemptible, and reveals the level of corruption and Organizational Discrimination which exists among those at the highest levels of SSA/ODAR. As long as this objectionable behavior is allowed to continue at the highest levels of SSA/ODAR, nothing is going to change.

Colvin enabled this to happen in Garmon's case, and I can assure you the most powerful members of Congress will be duly informed of objections to what this former Acting while Nominated Commissioner of SSA did wiith respect to Garmon, and that the misguided decisions concerning him must be reversed pursuant to the recent SCOTUS decision referenced above, and that he be held fully accountable.

This egregious type of conduct among the highest levels of management of a Federal Agency is the epitome of waste, fraud, and abuse, and simply cannot be allowed to continue unchecked. SSA OIG - Where are you in relation to this?

Anonymous said...

Does Garmon know where some bodies are buried, or something akin to this? Why in the world is he treated in such a special, delicate manner? He also presents as someone who believes he is entitled, better than most, powerful, pompous, and all consuming. Yet, when he speaks, all doubt is removed as to his intellect and common sense, but no one seems to notice or care. Why is this guy treated in such a special manner, and placed on such a pedestal by this Agency after the enormous costs he has caused the Agency to endure in litigation costs alone from years and years of documented, blatant labor management violations?

Anonymous said...

Obviously Garmon is smarter than you, he is still there, moving up and you are fired.

Anonymous said...


Another Garmon enabler. Garmon is not smarter than I. He is there because of corruption, and power corrupts absolutely.

If you wish to inform the world you support the corruption and Organizational Discrimination I have clearly pointed out on this blog over the past year, that is your wish. But, let the world know you do this with the caveat you hate me for whatever reason; either you don't care how your tax money is spent, or you have no income on which to pay taxes because you are a deadbeat who has never worked like the ex I gleefully divorced years ago; or you, or someone close to you, has something to gain by enabling Garmon, i.e., kissing his ass.

Regardless, you are an IDIOT, and have now officially proclaimed it for all the world to see. Only a true IDIOT would be supportive of the waste, fraud, and abuse so readily apparent in a Federal Agency which has engaged in the very obvious, blatant corruption which keeps promoting wrongdoers like Garmon, and bends over backwards time and again to shield him, and others like him, from being held accountable. The truth is you are a disgusting excuse for a human being.

Further, if you could actually read and comprehend what you read, you would very well know I was not fired. I was illegally forced out by Garmon, et. al. This is completely different from being fired. You are such an imbecile.

Anonymous said...

Name calling is so childish, was that why you were fired?

Anonymous said...


I am done with you. You are quite obviously an IDIOT, and name calling in response to comments you post concerning me, is not only warranted, but necessary. As I said, you are a disgusting excuse for a human being. Go play somewhere else. Your disdainful comments are despicable.

Anonymous said...

Your continued unsupported ludicrous and maniacal rants are boorish, silly and quiet overdone. You again and again insult anyone with an opinion different from yours. If one iota of truth is found in your postings there would be enough for a Lifetime movie of the week. Spare all of us your insults and inane rants. Go find Bigfoot or chase down some aliens. It takes a special idiot to be stupid enough to be fired from government service.

Anonymous said...

Multiple media sources and members of Congress already know what I have said is the truth. None consider my comments to be "rants." You, sir, are the IDIOT. If you wish to be in the side of enabling Garmon with all the waste, fraud, and abuse be my guest.

Anonymous said...

Listen here Duncan,

You are a fired FORMER employee with an axe to grind. Your baseless rants are unworthy the pixels it takes to give them life. Be my guest and rant all you want, but be prepared to be called out as a fired incompetent lunatic with self aggrandizing thoughts, limited vocabulary and 8th grade writing style.

So Duncan do what you wish.

Anonymous said...


Your comment would be interesting if any of it were true, but the fact is none of it is true. So, you are welcome to continue to rant on with your lies and alternative facts all you wish, but nothing you say changes what I have said. Do you really think the Senate Finance Committee did not understand what Colvin was doing during Eanes' confirmation hearings? Seriously, you are placing all of them in the same category with me, and the facts we already know. Let's allow the world to judge for itself who is lying, ranting, carrying on with alternative facts and fake news, and who is telling the truth. What I have stated has already been seen and discussed in Congress. None of it has been proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Duncan, nothing was proven true, nothing was made actionable, nothing.

Sorry Duncan, unsupported rant.

Anonymous said...


You are WRONG, as usual. The facts were fully supported. Hell, it was damn obvious what was going on a Kindergartner could have seen through it. Thus, it is you who are ranting. I am curious, are your rants because you hate me? If not, then you either have some sort of a self-interest by enabling Garmon; do not care about corruption and waste, fraud, and abuse in government; or you earn no wages on which you must pay taxes but simply wish to bash me. What kind of person does it take not to care about corruption, waste, fraud, or abuse? Please enlighten us about just what low life you are.

Anonymous said...


I am simply tired of every single post on this site be over run with your continued regurgitation of the exact same paragraphs and statements regardless of the nature of the post. Quiet frankly I don't care what happened to you in the past Duncan, what happens to you in the future Duncan. I bash you because you abuse this site and its readers with posting the exact same BS again and again and again and again. Because of the number of rants, the stupidity Duncan, nothing you post has any weight any longer.

Anonymous said...

My comments are not, and have never been, exclusively about me, or my situation. I speaking to a broader issue concerning SSA/ODAR Management, and the corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse the Agency has engaged where Garamon is concerned. I will not stop talking about this issue because it is one of public importance. I would think it bothers you that a man with a long track record of labor management violations was placed in OLMER after being removed from ROCALJ. This is the proverbial fox in the hen house. Then the Agency relocated an entire Hearings Office close to his home but inconvenient to everyone else? My God, just imagine the cost to taxpayers to do this. Subsequently, with labor management issues at an all time high, failed, punitive management with unreasonable quotas and production numbers to address a massive backlog, which management caused in the first place, Senior SSA/ODAR Management promote this guy again to Associate Chief ALJ.

Those of you who see nothing wrong with this, I ask who do you think went into Senior Management and proposed all these failed punitive management policies? GARMON! Why does SSA/ODAR cater to this individual? He should have been removed from all management years ago. Who are the geniuses in Senior Management who made the decision to promote him even further up the ladder?

What is going on with Garmon and Senior Management is insane. Who in their right mind believes this corruption, waste, fraud, and abuse is okay? I am not even talking about my situation. This conduct has got to stop, and Senior Manager's who have engaged in known misconduct and wrongdoing finally held accountable. Why are you against this?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Poor Duncan, you have my pity, you annoy but you have my pity. Hopefully you find rest some day.

Anonymous said...


Who in the hell is Duncan? This is certainly not my name, nor is it a name which indicates my gender. I am proudly SA-27 if you wish to call me a name. I will proceed with calling you IDIOT because I cannot think of anything more befitting for such a jerk. You are a disgusting excuse for a human being. At least now, the whole world can easily see this by reading your comments. It pleases me greatly to know I am getting underneath your skin!


That's right, "Yawn," all you wish. Just realize those of you who respond is such a manner are enablers. Because you only "Yawn," you enable the corruption; waste, fraud, and abuse of the type which concerns Garmon; not too mention silently tolerating punitive management policies in the form of unreasonable quotas and production numbers which, even though it has been established they are counter productive, Senior Manager's like Garmon insist on enforcing because their management policies died with the dinosaurs, and they adamently refuse to consider more effective ways of managing a workforce while reducing the backlog without paying it down.

Anonymous said...

I call you Duncan because you are a Yo-yo. Have a nice day Duncan.

Tim said...

9:23AM I pitty you 'cause you a fool!

Anonymous said...

Senior managers at SSA are tone deaf when it comes to complaints that are delaying their chances at peaceful retirement. Selectively however, they would not mind picking on little people by allowing the lower-level managers an increased ability to deny any type of inclusiveness complaints when it comes from foreign born employees. A bunch of republican bigots!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why SSA has not gotten rid of the ALJ jobs? THe ALJ's are overpaid and too many are lazy and incompetent. THey are a drain on the SSA budget. I am sure taxpayers wouldn't mind if the ALJ jobs were ended and replaced with folks who actually have a good work ethic and don't brag about not having any job reviews.