A Federal Court of Appeals has ruled against the Association of Administrative Law Judges in a lawsuit over disability case ‘quotas.’ The Social Security Administration expects the Administrative Law Judges (ALJ) overseeing disability hearings to decide between 500 to 700 disability cases per year. The union representing the ALJ’s argued in its lawsuit that this number of cases represents an illegal quota that violated the Judge’s independence and the due process rights of applicants. More specifically, they claimed the high caseload resulted in ALJs paying more cases as a way to quickly reduce their workload.

William Astrue, the former Social Security Commissioner, responded to the lawsuit by stating “What’s really happening here is that the judges’ union doesn’t want accountability of its members,” and that there was “a very small number of malcontents who want to litigate or put political pressure on the agency rather than do their work.”

In a decision dated January 23, 2015, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of the Agency. Writing for the majority, Judge Posner held that the alleged quotas did not interfere with the ALJ’s independence, and that the goal of the quota was to “speed up decision-making rather than to prod administrative law judges to grant more applications for disability benefits.”

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