Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that the agency has begun making offers to 144 of the 175 new Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) it will hire this fiscal year. Due to litigation and budget cuts, the agency has about ten percent fewer ALJs than it did a decade ago. During that same time, the number of cases waiting for a hearing decision has more than doubled.
â€œThe hiring of these new ALJs is a critical step in our plan to reduce the backlog of disability cases,â€ Commissioner Astrue said. â€œThey represent one of the largest investments in ALJs this agency has ever made. When these ALJs are fully-trained, and combined with the other steps we are taking, we will be able for the first time in this decade to reduce the number of cases waiting for a disability hearing. I can hardly wait for them to start.â€
The new ALJs will be brought on board in phases with the first hires reporting for duty in April, when they will begin an intensive orientation and training program. While initially handling a reduced docket, newly hired ALJs should be scheduling a full docket of cases by the end of the year.
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