Our objective was to examine the factors that have led to a decrease in administrative law judge (ALJ) productivity.
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) administers the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability hearings and appeals program. ALJs issue decisions at hearing offices nationwide. To assist the ALJs, hearing offices employ decision writers who draft and write ALJ decisions and support staff who prepare and schedule cases.
At the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, ODAR’s pending hearings backlog had increased to over 1.1 million cases, average processing times had worsened to over 540 days, and ALJ productivity had decreased nationwide since FY 2011. ALJ productivity is defined by dispositions per day per available ALJ. ALJs produced an average of 2.42 dispositions per day in FY 2011, but that decreased to 1.9 dispositions per day in FY 2016. While there were 139 more ALJs in FY 2016, total ALJ dispositions decreased about 14 percent from FY 2011 levels.
ODAR created the Compassionate And REsponsive Service plan to address the hearings backlog based on two essential components—people and quality—and this review examined both of these components.