Earlier this year the union for the Administrative Law Judges filed suit alleging that the production “goals” that ODAR has set for ALJs are in actuality “quotas” that infringe on their APA-protected decisional independence. Association of Administrative Law Judges, et al., v. Carolyn Colvin, Civil Case Number 1:13-cv-02925 (N.D.Ill. Apr. 18, 2013).
The controversy began when then Chief Administrative Law Judge Frank Cristaudo sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to all ALJs in 2007. The main issue in the letter (and the lawsuit) is a goal of issuing 500 to 700 legally sufficient decisions each year. An excerpt from the October 31, 2007, letter follows:
I am asking each of our Administrative Law Judges to manage their dockets in such a way that they will be able to issue 500 – 700 legally sufficient decisions each year. Many of our ALJs do so already. While I recognize this requires adequate support and a dedicated level of effort, I believe that based on historical data and the input and experience of a number of our ALJs, this is a reasonable request.
I want to make clear that we want these decisions to be legally sufficient. We do not want to simply allow case or deny cases to meet a goal. (We have a number of initiatives which deal specifically with legal sufficiency which will be addressed separately.) We believe ALJs who manage their dockets well should be able to accomplish this request.
Summary from the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.