A new executive order says administrative law judges, who primarily work for the Social Security Administration, will no longer be hired by the competitive civil service process that is a mainstay of an impartial bureaucracy. Instead, they will be selected by agency heads who could pick lawyerswho do not have the experience now required.
There is concern that these positions will become political appointments rather than the detailed current application process which emphasizes direct experience and credentials.
The judges, known as ALJs, conduct courtlike proceedings on disputes between federal agencies and clients, such as Social Security recipients who think they are entitled to greater benefits.
Although ALJs are a small fraction of the federal workforce, their impact is great for taxpayers appealing denials. Approximately 1,600 judges at Social Security oversaw almost 700,000 cases last year.