New Judge After Remand in Social Security Disabilty Case?

Many people are surprised to learn that after an Appeals Council remand, the ALJ who will hear the case will be the same ALJ who originally heard the case. ( Hallex I-2-155). There are certain exceptions to the same ALJ rule. These exceptions include a specific direction from the court or the Appeals Council that a new ALJ be assigned; a finding the the claimant did not receive a fair hearing; the case has already been remanded from an appeal; or scheduling problems.

It is unusual for the Appeals Council to order the a new ALJ be appointed on the first remand. As far a court order directing that a new ALJ be appointed, common law has evolved sufficiently to establish a set of criteria for such an order. The criteria centers around those situations which compromise the integrity of the disability review process. “Specifically, when the conduct of an ALJ gives rise to serious concerns about the fundamental fairness of the disability review process, remand to a new ALJ is appropriate. Factors for consideration in this determination include: (1) a clear indication that the ALJ will not apply the appropriate legal standard on remand; (2) a clearly manifested bias or inappropriate hostility toward any party; (3) a clearly apparent refusal to consider portions of the testimony or evidence favorable to a party, due to apparent hostility to that party; (4) a refusal to weigh or consider evidence with impartiality, due to apparent hostility to any party.” Sutherland v. Barnhart, 322 F.Supp.2d 282, 292 (E.D.N.Y. 2004)

Indiana Trial Lawyers Association