Attorneys who practice Social Security Disability law on a regular basis know which Administrative Law Judges (“ALJ’s) routinely deny claims that other ALJs would approve. I took over a case involving such an ALJ when it had to be appealed to federal court. That ALJ had his preferred doctor serve as hearing expert at the claimant’s hearing because the ALJ knew that doctor was also biased against disability claimants.
Yesterday, the district court vacated the ALJ’s decision. The Social Security Administration (the “SSA”) requires that hearing experts be randomly selected in rotation. I argued that discovery regarding the ALJ’s general bias was needed based on the ALJ’s misuse of his pet doctor.
The federal court denied the SSA’s motion to affirm the ALJ’s decision. In remanding the case, the federal court ruled that, “Information regarding the ALJ’s selection of hearing experts would be relevant to the issue of the ALJ’s bias.”
You cannot prevent your case from being assigned to a biased ALJ. If you wind up with an unfortunate assignment, you must take every possible step to present the best possible case because the odds are that you will need to establish bases for appeal to federal court. Make sure that you understand not only the administrative errors, but also the legal and litigations issues for appeal.Previous Next
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