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House Approves $150 Million To Hire ALJs, Support Staff In New Funding Bill

2016 December 9
by Steve Perrigo

The House of Representatives approved a new continuing resolution (CR) yesterday that includes approximately $150 million for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to hire 250 administrative law judges (ALJs) and support staff. The government funding measure replaces the CR that expires Dec. 9, and it extends funding at fiscal year 2016 levels into FY 2017 until April 28, 2017. The measure is now pending in the Senate and requires a vote today to prevent the federal government from shutting down.

The availability of ALJs is one of the critical factors in the growing hearing backlog, which grew to 1,122,014 claimants awaiting a hearing at the end of FY 2016, according to the SSA. The current backlog is 59 percent higher compared to 705,367 claimants pending in FY 2010. Between FYs 2012 and 2015, the number of available ALJs declined about 5 percent.

As part of its CARES plan, the SSA stated it needed to hire at least 250 new ALJs in FY 2016, FY 2017 and FY 2018 to reach an average hearing wait time of 270 days by FY 2020. The current national average wait time is 543 days. These times are in addition to wait times accrued at the initial and reconsideration levels.

The SSA hired 71 ALJs in FY 2014, 202 ALJs in FY 2015, and 264 ALJs in 2016. The designated funding will support ALJ hiring and support staff, which currently averages 4.5 per ALJ.

Social Security Administration – Administrative Law Judge Hiring Data

Fiscal year ALJs hired
2014           71
2015        202
2016        264
2017 (minimum goal)        250
2018 (minimum goal)        250

 

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