Social Security Administrative Law Judge Increase ?
An August 6th, 2007 post on attorney Charles Hall's blog (AFGE Newsletter) cites some interesting information from the July edtiion of the AFGE union (of which my spouse is a member and also a union rep).
First, it is apparently the desire of the current commissioner of the social security administration to hire an additional 173 administrative law judges. Would this decrease the disability hearing backlog? I don't really know. I suspect, however, that even such a large hiring (for an agency like SSA, this would be significant) would not whittle away at the backlog, but merely decrease its rate of growth.
Interestingly enough, and I didn't know this, it takes about 4 hearing office staffers to support one individual disability judge. This goes back to something I've said several times here. Hiring more judges isn't enough. More judges without additional support staff will likely result in...nothing, other than the same number of cases being distributed among a larger number of judges.
On the subject of hiring (again, a frequent topic here), journalists who report on the social security disability and SSI disability quagmire should really start focusing on the personnel dilemma that exists in the social security field offices. I know that the hearing situation is very dire and translates better for readers, but the real meltdown in the agency's human resource infrastructure is occurring within the field offices. In fact, in one that I know of, claims reps are getting fairly close to taking on nearly all the duties of service reps.
For those who aren't aware, claims reps process disability claims while SRs, or service reps, provide office support and support for CRs, or claims reps.
What happens when claims reps are forced, due to staff attrition, to take over more and more of the work done by service reps? Only an idiot would have to ponder this one for very long (and I guess that means we're out of luck as far as the U.S. congress is concerned). It means that disability claims and retirement claims will take longer to process and, over time, claims reps will become less effective in managing their cases.
You can only divide a pie but so many ways.
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