Effects of the Senior Attorney Adjudicator Program on Hearing Workloads

Friday, June 28, 2013
Report Number: 
Report Type: 
Audit Report

As part of the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) appellate process, administrative law judges (ALJ) and SAAs screen claimants’ files to determine whether they can issue an on-the-record (OTR) decision. OTR decisions do not require a hearing because the documentary evidence alone supports a fully favorable decision.

SSA implemented the SAA Program in November 2007 to issue high quality, fully favorable OTR decisions while maintaining the current level of ALJ decision writing support. By having SAAs issue fully favorable OTR decisions, SSA would be able to conserve ALJ resources for the more complex cases and cases that require a hearing. SSA originally included a provision to end the program on August 10, 2009, but it extended the Program twice through August 2013. As of the end of our audit period, SSA had not stated its intent to extend the program for another 2 years.

The objective of this audit was to determine the effect the Senior Attorney Adjudicator (SAA) Program has had on productivity and the timeliness of hearing-level workloads.