On December 19, 2011, the Social Security Administration decided that it would no longer provide to the claimants or their lawyers the name of the Administrative Law Judge who was assigned to hear a particular person's case. In response to this policy, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), --an organization of which I am a supporting member-- commenced several lawsuits and waged an intense lobbying campaign to make available before the hearing date the name of the judge assigned to a case. This policy became known as the "Secret ALJ Policy".
Today, I am happy to report that the Social Security Administration has announced the that Secret ALJ Policy will end effective April 20th of this year. The SSA issued the following statement to Social Security Lawyers and Representatives who are NOSSCR members:
- Beginning on April 20, the agency will resume disclosing the name of the ALJ assigned to a hearing when it sends out a Notice of Hearing. (Note: Under our rules, we must send out this Notice at least twenty days before the hearing, but typically we send it out 60-90 days prior to the hearing.)
- In addition, beginning on April 20, we will add the ALJ's name to the Appointed Representative Services (ARS) internet application. ARS users represent claimants in about 85% of all represented cases currently pending in ODAR.
- We encourage representatives who are not signed up for ARS to ask about registering in their local hearing office. Registered ARS users can access up-to-date electronic folders for their clients, download hearing recordings, and access case status and scheduling information in one convenient location.