THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Hearing Office Disposition Rates
January 14, 2010
The Honorable George V. Voinovich
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Voinovich:
In a June 19, 2009 letter, you asked that we review hearing offices whose daily disposition rates fell below the national average. Specifically, you requested that we (1) determine why the administrative law judges in these hearing offices had productivity rates that lagged behind other offices nationwide; and (2) identify what steps might be taken to remedy the situation.
I appreciate the opportunity to share our insights on this important matter, and I am pleased to provide you the enclosed report. The report addresses your concerns and highlights various facts pertaining to the issues raised in your letter. The report also provides information regarding lower-producing administrative law judges identified in a prior review conducted by my office. To ensure the Social Security Administration is aware of the information provided to your office, we are forwarding a copy of this report to the Agency.
If you have any questions concerning this matter, please call me, or have your staff contact Misha Kelly, Congressional and Intra-Governmental Liaison, at (202) 358-6319.
Patrick P. O’Carroll, Jr.
Michael J. Astrue
By conducting independent and objective audits, evaluations and investigations, we inspire public confidence in the integrity and security of SSA’s programs and operations and protect them against fraud, waste and abuse. We provide timely, useful and reliable information and advice to Administration officials, Congress and the public.
The Inspector General Act created independent audit and investigative units, called the Office of Inspector General (OIG). The mission of the OIG, as spelled out in the Act, is to:
Conduct and supervise independent and objective audits and investigations relating to agency programs and operations.
Promote economy, effectiveness, and efficiency within the agency.
Prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse in agency programs and operations.
Review and make recommendations regarding existing and proposed legislation and regulations relating to agency programs and operations.
Keep the agency head and the Congress fully and currently informed of problems in agency programs and operations.
To ensure objectivity, the IG Act empowers the IG with:
Independence to determine what reviews to perform.
Access to all information necessary for the reviews.
Authority to publish findings and recommendations based on the reviews.
We strive for continual improvement in SSA’s programs, operations and management by proactively seeking new ways to prevent and deter fraud, waste and abuse. We commit to integrity and excellence by supporting an environment that provides a valuable public service while encouraging employee development and retention and fostering diversity and innovation.
The objective of our review was to address the request of Senator George V. Voinovich regarding hearing office disposition rates. Specifically, our review focused on identifying factors that affected the performance of Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) hearing offices whose daily disposition rates fell below the national average.
ODAR is responsible for holding hearings and issuing decisions as part of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) process for determining whether a person may receive benefits. ODAR directs a nation-wide field organization staffed with administrative law judges (ALJ) who conduct impartial hearings and make decisions on appealed determinations involving Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits as well as Supplemental Security Income. At the time of our review, there were 142 ODAR hearing offices nationwide.
SSA’s disability programs have grown significantly since 2002 because aging baby boomers have begun reaching their most disability-prone years, and the economy has taken a downturn. This growth has resulted in a backlog of disability cases. The number of cases awaiting a decision from an ALJ has risen from over 463,000 at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 to over 722,000 at the end of September 2009.
On October 31, 2007, Chief ALJ Frank Cristaudo issued a memorandum that identified expectations regarding the services that ALJs provide to the public. Most notably, he asked ALJs to issue 500 to 700 legally sufficient decisions each year, act on a timely basis, and hold scheduled hearings unless there is a good reason to postpone or cancel.
In a June 19, 2009 letter, Senator Voinovich requested we review hearing offices whose daily disposition rates fell below the national average. Specifically, the Senator requested we determine why the ALJs in those hearing offices had productivity rates that lagged behind other hearing offices and identify what steps might be taken to remedy the situation.
To address Senator Voinovich’s request, we conducted interviews at hearing offices in 9 of SSA’s 10 regions. We selected these hearing offices because they had disposition rates per day per ALJ below the national average of 2.31 for FY 2009 through June. Table 1 identifies the hearing offices we visited and the average dispositions per day
per ALJ for each office. At these hearing offices, we interviewed a total of 14 ALJs, 9 Hearing Office Chief ALJs (HOCALJ), 9 Hearing Office Directors, 9 Senior Attorney Advisors, and 9 Senior Case Technicians. ,
Selected Hearing Offices by SSA Region
Region Hearing Office Average Dispositions Per Day Per ALJ
Boston New Haven, CT 1.88
New York Queens, NY 1.51
Philadelphia Washington, D.C. 2.10
Atlanta Tampa, FL 1.93
Chicago Columbus, OH 1.47
Dallas New Orleans, LA 2.11
Kansas City Springfield, MO 2.02
Denver Fargo, ND 2.18
San Francisco Oakland, CA 1.47
National Average Dispositions Per Day Per ALJ = 2.31
We also followed up on the performance of 14 ALJs identified in a prior review as lower producers. To do so, we conducted interviews with the HOCALJs responsible for managing these 14 ALJs.
Results of Review
At the 9 hearing offices included in our review, we interviewed a total of 14 ALJs, 9 HOCALJs, 9 Hearing Office Directors, 9 Senior Attorney Advisors, and 9 Senior Case Technicians. We also analyzed hearings data from ODAR’s Case Processing and Management System (CPMS).
Our review identified various factors that impacted hearing office productivity. Specifically, we found ALJs had control over certain factors that affected hearing office productivity—motivation and work ethic, case review time, and hearings management. Further, we identified factors related to support staff that can also affect hearing office productivity—staff quantity, quality, and composition.
We also followed up on the performance of 14 ALJs identified in a prior review as lower producers. We found the performance of most of these ALJs had either minimally improved or not improved at all. In fact, the FY 2009 average dispositions per day for all 14 ALJs were below the national average of 2.31 dispositions per day.
We also found that the HOCALJs, who were responsible for managing ALJ performance, had taken actions to address individual ALJ factors that impact hearing office performance. These actions primarily included mentoring and counseling. However, when these actions were not successful, Agency management rarely took performance-based disciplinary action against ALJs.
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE FACTORS
We found certain factors within an ALJ’s control that can impact hearing office performance and lead to daily disposition rates below the national average. These factors include motivation and work ethic, case review time, and hearings management.
MOTIVATION AND WORK ETHIC
Our interviews disclosed ALJ motivation and work ethic can impact hearing office performance and lead to disposition rates below the national average. Specifically, seven of the nine HOCALJs we interviewed cited qualities, such as lack of ambition and low personal expectations, as reasons some ALJs consistently process fewer dispositions than expected. One HOCALJ stated, “While some ALJs are self-directed and intrinsically motivated to do their best, certain others are content to accomplish the minimum required to get by on a daily basis, whether it meets the production goals or not.”
CASE REVIEW TIME
Time Spent Reviewing Cases
Length of Case Review Number of ALJs
Up to 1 hour 6
More than 1 hour, but less than 2 hours 2
2 hours or more 5
Our interviews disclosed the time ALJs spend on case review before the hearing can impact hearing office performance and lead to disposition rates below the national average. Seven of the nine HOCALJs we interviewed expected case review to take an average of 1 hour or less. However, seven of the ALJs we interviewed spent more than 1 hour reviewing a case before a hearing (see Table 2). In fact, two ALJs stated it could take up to 4 hours.
Five of the nine HOCALJs stated some ALJs spend too much time on case review because they are inefficient or over-develop cases, which results in case review exceeding the 1-hour expectation. SSA does not collect information on case review time by ALJ; therefore, our analysis of this factor was limited to our interviews. Without empirical data on case review time for all ALJs, we do not know the percentage of ALJs who spend 1 hour or less on case review and whether this expectation is reasonable.
According to our interviews, ALJ management of hearings can impact hearing office performance. Specifically, the number of hearings scheduled and the length of the hearings can lead to disposition rates below the national average.
Low disposition rates can result when ALJs do not schedule enough hearings. Our interviews disclosed that ALJs were not scheduling the number of hearings expected by HOCALJs. Specifically, 5 of the 9 HOCALJs stated that they expected ALJs to schedule between 12 and 15 hearings per week. However, 7 of the 14 ALJs we interviewed indicated that they typically only scheduled from 8 to 10 hearings per week.
In FY 2009, hearing offices nationwide scheduled an average of 2.57 hearings daily per ALJ. However, 12 of the 14 ALJs we interviewed scheduled between 1.60 and 2.50 per day—below the national average.
Furthermore, in FY 2009, the number of hearings scheduled daily per ALJ was below the national average of 2.57 in seven of the nine hearing offices where we conducted interviews. The average number of hearings scheduled daily in these seven hearing offices was between 1.33 and 2.37. Comparatively, when reviewing the number of hearings scheduled daily by nine of the highest-producing hearing offices, we found eight offices were at or above the national average of 2.57. The average number of hearings scheduled daily in these eight hearing offices was between 2.57 and 3.50. Therefore, the hearing offices that scheduled more hearings issued more dispositions (see Chart 1).
Currently, individual ALJs inform hearing office staff of the number of hearings they would like to schedule in a given timeframe. However, SSA proposed a change that will allow hearing office staff, rather than the individual ALJ, to set the time and place for a hearing. The intent of this change is to give hearing offices greater flexibility in scheduling hearings and is part of SSA’s plan to increase efficiency in the hearing process and reduce the number of pending hearing requests.
Length of Hearings
We found the length of hearings can impact hearing office performance and lead to disposition rates below the national average. Our interviews revealed eight of the nine HOCALJs expected hearings in their office to last up to 1 hour. However, 5 of the
14 ALJs we interviewed stated the average length of their hearings was longer than
1 hour. One ALJ stated some hearings lasted as long as 3 hours. SSA does not collect information on the length of hearings by ALJ; therefore, our analysis on this factor was limited to our interviews.
SUPPORT STAFF FACTORS
We found the quantity, quality, and composition of support staff can negatively impact hearing office performance, leading to disposition rates below the national average. ALJs are supported by staff who, among other things
• conduct initial case screening and preparation,
• maintain a control system for all hearing office cases,
• conduct pre-hearing case analysis,
• develop additional evidence,
• schedule hearings, and
• prepare notices and decisions for claimants.
Seven of the nine HOCALJs we interviewed stated low support staff ratios impacted hearing office performance. At the end of FY 2008, six of the nine hearing offices where we conducted interviews had staff ratios below the desired 4.5 support staff to every ALJ (see Table 3, yellow highlight). However, SSA hired additional support staff, and only two of the nine hearing offices fell below the desired ratio by the end of FY 2009 (see Table 3, green highlight). Therefore, the lower number of support staff early in the year may have negatively impacted hearing office productivity. These staffing increases should contribute to an increase in productivity. However, new employees will not have an immediate impact on workloads, as hiring and fully training new employees is a lengthy and resource-intensive process.
Hearing Office Staff Ratios
Hearing Office September 27, 2008 September 30, 2009
New Haven, CT 5.00 5.60
Queens, NY 3.88 5.29
Washington, D.C. 5.00 5.00
Tampa, FL 4.20 5.07
Columbus, OH 3.71 3.66
New Orleans, LA 3.67 4.10
Springfield, MO 4.76 4.63
Fargo, ND 4.20 5.44
Oakland, CA 4.29 5.38
In addition to hiring support staff, centralized pulling and writing units can assist hearing offices in meeting their staffing and workload goals. The purpose of the centralized units is to process more claims with less staff and increase productivity. These units can supplement staffing and space shortages in hearing offices while providing management with greater flexibility to address unforeseen workload changes.
Our interviews revealed the quality of support staff can impact hearing office performance. Specifically, nine ALJs expressed concerns with the quality of the staff in their hearing offices. For example, one ALJ said, “Sometimes the decisions are written so badly [I want] to scream.” Another ALJ stated the writers in the hearing office leave out doctor’s opinions and use incorrect numbers and dates.
Further, we found the quality of support staff was a major concern in one hearing office. In fact, five of the six interviews we conducted in that hearing office disclosed problems with the quality of staff. Specifically, one of the interviewees stated that hearing office productivity is impacted by the quality of support staff, not the quantity. However, it was also stated that the quality of the support staff has improved because of the recent hiring of four employees, who are hard-working and productive.
The composition of support staff can impact performance. In fact, five of the nine HOCALJs stated the composition of support staff impacts hearing office productivity. For example, one HOCALJ stated, “It is challenging for the office to increase productivity when the office is short on writing staff.” Further, another HOCALJ said, “A lack of case pullers directly affects ALJ productivity.”
In January 2009, eight of the nine hearing offices where we conducted interviews had decision writer staff ratios below the desired 1.5 decision writers to every ALJ (see Table 4, yellow highlight). , However, SSA has hired additional decision writers, and only one of the nine hearing offices had fallen below the desired ratio by the end of FY 2009 (see Table 4, green highlight). Therefore, the lower number of decision writers early in the year may have negatively impacted hearing office productivity. The increase in decision writing staff should contribute to an increase in productivity. However, new decision writers will not have an immediate impact on workloads, as hiring and fully training new employees is a lengthy and resource-intensive process.
Decision Writer Staff Ratios
Hearing Office January 17, 2009 September 30, 2009
New Haven, CT 1.40 1.80
Queens, NY 1.38 2.14
Washington, D.C. 1.00 1.83
Tampa, FL 1.53 1.93
Columbus, OH 1.34 1.15
New Orleans, LA 1.10 1.60
Springfield, MO 1.20 1.83
Fargo, ND 1.20 1.80
Oakland, CA 1.13 1.63
Further, as previously discussed, ODAR has created centralized pulling and writing units. These units can help expand the skill sets available to hearing offices and further assist in processing workloads.
PRIOR REVIEW OF LOWER PRODUCERS
We found the performance of most of the 14 ALJs identified in our prior review as lower producers had either minimally improved or not improved at all. We identified minimal differences in the productivity of most of the ALJs when comparing their FY 2007 and 2009 disposition rates. As shown in Table 5, we determined the disposition rate
• increased for six ALJs (see green highlight),
• remained the same for one ALJ (see light blue highlight), and
• decreased for seven ALJs (see yellow highlight).
ALJ Disposition Rates
ALJ No. FY 2007 Dispositions per Day FY 2009 Dispositions per Day Change in Dispositions Per Day
1 1.14 2.15 1.01
2 0.69 1.61 0.92
3 0.73 1.09 0.36
4 0.71 1.04 0.33
5 1.23 1.52 0.29
6 0.63 0.88 0.25
7 0.83 0.83 0.00
8 1.31 1.30 (0.01)
9 0.77 0.71 (0.06)
10 0.71 0.63 (0.08)
11 1.00 0.92 (0.08)
12 0.76 0.67 (0.09)
13 0.62 0.44 (0.18)
14 1.55 1.09 (0.46)
In FY 2009, the average disposition rate per day for each of these 14 ALJs was below the national average of 2.31. Our interviews with the HOCALJs responsible for managing the 14 lower-producing ALJs disclosed that these ALJs had lower than average dispositions per day because of the same factors already discussed in this report—motivation and work ethic, case review time, hearings management, and support staff.
ALJs Reaching 500 Dispositions
Fiscal Year Percentage of ALJs
According to the Commissioner of Social Security, an important bottom-line productivity measure is the percentage of ALJs who reach the minimum annual disposition expectation of 500 cases. As shown in Table 6, the percentage of ALJs who reach the 500-case disposition level is steadily increasing.
Although according to SSA overall performance has improved, our review identified ALJs who were not on track to reach the minimum annual disposition expectation. Specifically, there were 48 ALJs considered fully available in the 9 hearing offices where we conducted interviews. In FY 2009, and as a result of the factors presented in this report, 37 of these ALJs had daily disposition rates below the 2.00 per day needed to reach the minimum expectation of 500 (see Chart 2). ,
Actions SSA is Taking to Address ALJ Productivity
• Monthly Meetings to Discuss Productivity
Although these 37 ALJs were not on target to meet the goal of 500 dispositions per year, and their performance was well below average, action had been taken against only 1 of these ALJs based on performance during the period of our review. Instead of taking disciplinary action based on performance, the HOCALJs in our review provided ongoing performance-enhancement activities—such as repetitive mentoring, counseling, and monthly performance meetings—for lower-performing ALJs.
Federal regulations preclude SSA from rating an ALJ’s job performance. However, Federal law permits agency action against ALJs, under certain limited circumstances. In fact, the Merit Systems Protection Board stated in the Matter of Chocallo, “. . . an administrative law judge is not immune from review for misconduct, incompetence or other failings in the performance of his/her duties . . . .t]he fact that an [ALJ] carries out his/her duties in a hearing room rather than an office does not provide an impenetrable shield from appraisal of performance.”
One HOCALJ we interviewed stated, “Everything that can be done to address [the ALJ’s] performance has been done, but nothing helps.” The HOCALJ further stated, “The government does not make judges accountable for their performance. Action has to be taken in order to solve the problem.” Another HOCALJ acknowledged that an ALJ had been mentored by seven different ALJs since 2005. However, the ALJ’s performance had not improved.
Interviews with HOCALJs, ALJs, and hearing office staff disclosed two factors that affect hearing office performance—factors under ALJ control and factors that relate to support staff. Factors under ALJ control included motivation and work ethic, case review time, and hearings management. Support staff factors included quantity, quality, and composition of the support staff. Since these same factors were identified in our FY 2008 review, SSA needs to continue addressing them.
Through hiring, SSA has taken steps to address some of the support staff factors we identified as affecting hearing office disposition rates. For example, we found SSA is striving to achieve a national average ratio of 4.5 support staff to every ALJ. By the end of FY 2009, only two of the nine hearing offices in our review had fallen below the desired level.
Although SSA reports that overall ALJ performance has improved since FY 2007, there are still a number of ALJs with an average disposition rate per day well below the national average. As a result, many of these ALJs will not reach the minimum annual disposition expectation of 500. Even though ALJs were performing at a level below SSA’s expectation, SSA has not taken disciplinary actions against these ALJs. Rather, SSA relies on the HOCALJs to continue to provide ongoing performance-enhancement activities—such as mentoring, counseling, and monthly performance meetings.
APPENDIX A – Acronyms
APPENDIX B – Scope and Methodology
APPENDIX C – Hearing Office Organization
APPENDIX D – Fiscal Year 2009 Dispositions Per Day Per Administrative Law Judge
APPENDIX E – Factors That Impact Productivity
ALJ Administrative Law Judge
CPMS Case Processing and Management System
FY Fiscal Year
HALLEX Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual
HOCALJ Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge
ODAR Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
SSA Social Security Administration
U.S.C. United States Code
Scope and Methodology
To address Senator Voinovich’s request related to hearing office disposition rates, we:
• Reviewed applicable Federal laws and regulations and pertinent parts of the Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law Manual related to administrative law judge (ALJ) hearings.
• Reviewed prior Office of the Inspector General, Government Accountability Office, and Social Security Advisory Board reports related to the ALJ hearings process.
• Obtained the National Ranking Report by ALJ Dispositions per Day per ALJ for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 through June from the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review’s (ODAR) Case Processing and Management System.
• Identified the hearing office in each region with the lowest disposition rate per ALJ per day below the national average. We excluded any offices we visited while preparing our Congressional Response Report, Administrative Law Judge and Hearing Office Performance (A-07-08-28094). Region 10 did not have an office that met these criteria, so an office from this Region was not selected. For the selected hearing offices we:
o Obtained the following information from ODAR for ALJs in each selected hearing office for FY 2009 through June.
Number of Dispositions
Average Processing Time in Days
Employment Classification (NOTE: ALJs were classified as not fully available for such reasons as being newly hired, being a union representative, being on extended leave, retiring, or being a part-time ALJ.)
o Interviewed 14 ALJs, 9 Hearing Office Chief ALJs (HOCALJ), and 27 hearing office staff members at 9 hearing offices nationwide.
For each hearing office, we used the employment classification obtained from ODAR and identified the two fully available ALJs with the lowest disposition rate per ALJ per day. This resulted in 18 ALJs being selected to interview; however, 4 ALJs declined to participate.
Interviewed the HOCALJs at the nine selected hearing offices.
Interviewed 27 hearing office staff members at the selected hearing offices. Specifically, we interviewed nine Hearing Office Directors, nine Senior Case Technicians, and nine Senior Attorney Advisors.
• Identified 19 lower-producing ALJs from our Congressional Response Report, Administrative Law Judge and Hearing Office Performance (A 07 08 28094). For these ALJs, we:
o Obtained the following information from ODAR for FY 2009 through June.
The ALJ’s hearing office as of June 2009
Number of Dispositions
Average Processing Time in Days
o Used the employment classification obtained by ODAR and identified the 14 fully available ALJs.
o Interviewed the HOCALJ in the hearing offices of the 14 lower-producing ALJs to determine whether the ALJs’ productivity had improved and actions being taken to address the performance of these ALJs.
Our work was conducted at the Office of Audit in Kansas City, Missouri, and various hearing offices nationwide from July through October 2009. We determined that the data used in this report were sufficiently reliable given the review objective and their intended use. We conducted our review in accordance with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency’s Quality Standards for Inspections.
Hearing Office Organization
Fiscal Year 2009 Dispositions Per Day Per Administrative Law Judge
From September 27, 2008 through June 26, 2009, the 1,057 available administrative law judges (ALJ) issued an average of 2.31 dispositions per day (see Table 1 on the following page). The average disposition rates per ALJ per day by hearing office ranged from a low of 1.28 to a high of 5.20, as shown in Chart D-1 and in Table D-1. For example, 4 of the 142 hearing offices had disposition rates ranging from 1.28 to 1.50.
To identify factors that contribute to the lower-than-average disposition rates in nine hearing offices, we conducted interviews with select hearing office staff. We selected the hearing office in each Social Security Administration region that had the lowest disposition rate per day per ALJ (see Table D-1, green highlight).
Further, we conducted analysis at 14 hearing offices to determine whether the productivity of lower-producing ALJs identified in our prior review had increased and identified factors that impacted their performance (see Table D-1, yellow highlight).
ALJ Dispositions Per Day and Available ALJs by Hearing Office
Rank Hearing Office Region Dispositions Per Day Per ALJ Available
1 Ponce, PR 2 5.20 0.81
2 Mayaguez, PR 2 3.56 0.57
3 Jericho, NY 2 3.51 5.38
4 Harrisburg, PA 3 3.42 6.33
5 Greenville, SC 4 3.11 7.93
6 Seven Fields 3 2.88 6.13
7 St Louis, MO 7 2.81 8.19
8 Albany, NY 2 2.80 6.60
8 Kingsport, TN 4 2.80 7.64
10 Bronx, NY 2 2.78 6.53
10 Flint, MI 5 2.78 4.94
10 Wilkes Barre, PA 3 2.78 7.15
13 Nashville, TN 4 2.76 6.16
14 Eugene, OR 10 2.74 3.18
15 Creve Coeur, MO 7 2.73 9.33
16 Los Angeles Downtown. CA 9 2.68 5.47
17 Atlanta Downtown, GA 4 2.67 12.99
18 Fort Smith, AR 6 2.65 4.52
18 Little Rock, AR 6 2.65 11.28
20 Wichita, KS 7 2.62 6.75
21 Columbia, SC 4 2.61 7.70
21 Tucson, AZ 9 2.61 4.23
23 Long Beach, CA 9 2.60 5.75
23 Spokane, WA 10 2.60 3.78
25 Pittsburgh, PA 3 2.59 6.80
26 Colorado Springs, CO 8 2.58 4.70
26 Minneapolis, MN 5 2.58 11.50
28 Ft Lauderdale, FL 4 2.57 10.49
29 Grand Rapids, MI 5 2.56 7.01
29 Jackson, MI 4 2.56 7.37
31 San Juan, PR 2 2.55 8.16
31 Shreveport, LA 6 2.55 7.16
33 Honolulu, HI 9 2.54 0.93
33 Oak Park, MI 5 2.54 9.35
35 Brooklyn, NY 2 2.53 10.50
36 Johnstown, PA 3 2.52 3.84
37 Alexandria, LA 6 2.51 9.12
37 Huntington, WV 3 2.51 7.63
37 Tulsa, OK 6 2.51 8.87
40 Charlotte, NC 4 2.50 10.37
40 Montgomery, AL 4 2.50 8.99
40 Raleigh, NC 4 2.50 10.25
43 Birmingham, AL 4 2.48 13.83
43 New York, NY 2 2.48 11.78
45 Orland Park, IL 5 2.47 8.36
46 Charleston, WV 3 2.46 8.93
46 Providence, RI 1 2.46 3.78
48 Evansville, IN 5 2.44 5.03
49 Paducah, KY 4 2.43 3.67
50 Fort Wayne, IN 5 2.42 5.14
50 Macon, GA 4 2.42 7.70
52 Philadelphia East, PA 3 2.41 7.56
53 Albuquerque, NM 6 2.38 8.09
53 Dallas Downtown, TX 6 2.38 10.69
53 Manchester, NH 1 2.38 4.08
53 Norfolk, VA 3 2.38 5.33
53 San Jose, CA 9 2.38 4.43
53 Syracuse, NY 2 2.38 7.38
53 West Des Moines, IA 7 2.38 5.86
60 San Bernardino, CA 9 2.37 7.06
61 Newark, NJ 2 2.36 8.59
62 Chattanooga, TN 4 2.35 9.50
62 Houston-Bissonnet, TX 6 2.35 8.30
62 Mobile, AL 4 2.35 11.12
62 Tupelo, MS 4 2.35 6.91
66 McAlester, OK 6 2.34 2.07
66 San Francisco, CA 9 2.34 5.72
68 Greensboro, NC 4 2.32 8.72
68 Metairie, LA 6 2.32 6.54
70 Elkins Park, PA 3 2.31 8.46
70 Stockton, CA 9 2.31 5.75
72 Los Angeles West, CA 9 2.30 6.20
72 Phoenix, AZ 9 2.30 8.75
72 Sacramento, CA 9 2.30 8.71
75 Hattiesburg, MS 4 2.29 8.90
75 Jacksonville, FL 4 2.29 10.04
75 Lexington, KY 4 2.29 8.88
75 San Antonio, TX 6 2.29 15.33
79 Charlottesville, VA 3 2.27 4.15
79 Savannah, GA 4 2.27 7.75
81 Billings, MT 8 2.26 4.38
81 Lansing, MI 5 2.26 6.24
81 Salt Lake City, UT 8 2.26 5.75
84 Dallas North, TX 6 2.25 12.56
84 Houston Downtown, TX 6 2.25 8.64
84 Memphis, TN 4 2.25 9.40
87 Louisville, KY 4 2.22 6.77
88 Downey, CA 9 2.21 4.19
88 Springfield, MA 1 2.21 5.23
90 Atlanta North, GA 4 2.20 7.67
90 Fort Worth, TX 6 2.20 8.55
90 Morgantown, WV 3 2.20 5.88
93 Middlesboro, KY 4 2.19 2.52
94 Fargo, ND 8 2.18 4.75
95 Las Vegas, NV 9 2.17 2.75
96 Voorhees, NJ 2 2.16 6.75
97 Charleston, SC 4 2.15 8.12
98 Boston, MA 1 2.14 11.36
98 Dover, DE 3 2.14 3.75
98 Hartford, CT 1 2.14 4.90
98 Orlando, FL 4 2.14 9.04
102 Florence, AL 4 2.13 6.14
102 Philadelphia, PA 3 2.13 7.69
102 Roanoke, VA 3 2.13 7.53
105 Portland, ME 1 2.12 4.96
105 Santa Barbara, CA 9 2.12 2.75
105 Seattle, WA 10 2.12 12.19
108 New Orleans, LA 6 2.11 8.56
109 Omaha, NE 7 2.10 4.43
109 Washington, DC 3 2.10 4.44
111 Detroit, MI 5 2.09 9.63
112 Knoxville, TN 4 2.07 9.79
113 Kansas City, MO 7 2.06 9.60
114 Denver, CO 8 2.05 8.59
114 Oak Brook, IL 5 2.05 8.08
116 Springfield, MO 7 2.02 4.62
117 Richmond, VA 3 2.01 6.04
118 Indianapolis, IN 5 2.00 10.64
118 Orange, CA 9 2.00 7.19
120 Buffalo, NY 2 1.99 13.37
121 San Rafael, CA 9 1.98 4.21
122 Peoria, IL 5 1.97 7.37
123 Baltimore, MD 3 1.96 8.75
123 Evanston, IL 5 1.96 8.85
125 Tampa, FL 4 1.93 14.44
126 Fresno, CA 9 1.89 7.39
127 New Haven, CT 1 1.88 4.67
127 Portland, OR 10 1.88 7.54
129 Dayton, OH 5 1.86 5.50
130 Cleveland, OH 5 1.84 12.78
131 Oklahoma City, OK 6 1.82 12.10
132 Pasadena, CA 9 1.78 5.44
133 Milwaukee, WI 5 1.75 10.51
134 Chicago, IL 5 1.66 9.28
135 Cincinnati, OH 5 1.65 10.01
136 White Plains, NY 2 1.64 5.53
137 Madison, WI 5 1.63 2.00
138 Queens, NY 2 1.51 7.32
139 Columbus, OH 5 1.47 9.60
139 Oakland, CA 9 1.47 7.55
141 Miami, FL 4 1.40 8.10
142 San Diego, CA 9 1.28 8.64
National 2.31 1,056.92
Factors That Impact Productivity
Our interviews with Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judges (ALJ), ALJs, and hearing office staff disclosed factors that can negatively impact hearing office performance and can lead to disposition rates below the national average. Table E-1 identifies the hearing offices that may have been impacted by each factor.
Factors That May Have Impacted Hearing Office Productivity
Hearing Office ALJ Factors Support Staff Factors
Motivation and Work Ethic Case Review Time Hearings Scheduled Length of Hearings Quantity Quality Composition
1 X X X
2 X X X X X X X
3 X X X
4 X X X X X X
5 X X X X X X X
6 X X
7 X X X
8 X X X X
9 X X X X X
Commissioner of Social Security
Office of Management and Budget, Income Maintenance Branch
Chairman and Ranking Member, Committee on Ways and Means
Chief of Staff, Committee on Ways and Means
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security
Majority and Minority Staff Director, Subcommittee on Social Security
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on the Budget, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations,
House of Representatives
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Social Security Pensions and Family Policy
Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, Senate Special Committee on Aging
Social Security Advisory Board
Overview of the Office of the Inspector General
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) is comprised of an Office of Audit (OA), Office of Investigations (OI), Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General (OCIG), Office of External Relations (OER), and Office of Technology and Resource Management (OTRM). To ensure compliance with policies and procedures, internal controls, and professional standards, the OIG also has a comprehensive Professional Responsibility and Quality Assurance program.
Office of Audit
OA conducts financial and performance audits of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) programs and operations and makes recommendations to ensure program objectives are achieved effectively and efficiently. Financial audits assess whether SSA’s financial statements fairly present SSA’s financial position, results of operations, and cash flow. Performance audits review the economy, efficiency, and effectiveness of SSA’s programs and operations. OA also conducts short-term management reviews and program evaluations on issues of concern to SSA, Congress, and the general public.
Office of Investigations
OI conducts investigations related to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in SSA programs and operations. This includes wrongdoing by applicants, beneficiaries, contractors, third parties, or SSA employees performing their official duties. This office serves as liaison to the Department of Justice on all matters relating to the investigation of SSA programs and personnel. OI also conducts joint investigations with other Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies.
Office of the Counsel to the Inspector General
OCIG provides independent legal advice and counsel to the IG on various matters, including statutes, regulations, legislation, and policy directives. OCIG also advises the IG on investigative procedures and techniques, as well as on legal implications and conclusions to be drawn from audit and investigative material. Also, OCIG administers the Civil Monetary Penalty program.
Office of External Relations
OER manages OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the principal advisor on news releases and in providing information to the various news reporting services. OER develops OIG’s media and public information policies, directs OIG’s external and public affairs programs, and serves as the primary contact for those seeking information about OIG. OER prepares OIG publications, speeches, and presentations to internal and external organizations, and responds to Congressional correspondence.
Office of Technology and Resource Management
OTRM supports OIG by providing information management and systems security. OTRM also coordinates OIG’s budget, procurement, telecommunications, facilities, and human resources. In addition, OTRM is the focal point for OIG’s strategic planning function, and the development and monitoring of performance measures. In addition, OTRM receives and assigns for action allegations of criminal and administrative violations of Social Security laws, identifies fugitives receiving benefit payments from SSA, and provides technological assistance to investigations.