It’s no secret that which judge hears your case can be a major factor in whether you’re approved for disability benefits.
The award rate for each administrative law judge working for the Social Security Administration is publicly available information. Some judges approve around 70 percent of the cases that come before them. Others only approve 15 percent. Most hover somewhere around the national average – currently 45 percent.
Even the award rate doesn’t tell the entire stories. Some judges are just known to be more lenient with certain types of cases. For example, some judges seem much more likely to approve cases involving any type of cancer. On the other hand, some judges appear to be much more skeptical of cases that involve only mental health issues.
Most of the time in federal or state court, attorneys are allowed one strike to remove a judge from a case for any reason. Usually, this comes in handy in a situation where you believe a judge might not have the best view of the facts of your case.
Unfortunately, Social Security has no such mechanism in place. When a judge is assigned to your case, that’s who will hear it.
That doesn’t mean that circumstances never change, however. Every once in awhile, something comes up and you might have a different judge assigned to your case. And if you are denied at a hearing and successful on appeal, it is very common for the case to then be assigned to another judge.
More than likely, your attorney will be familiar with the judge at your disability hearing though and can advise you on how to best handle that particular judge given the facts of your case.