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Tucson Social Security Disability Blog

Should ALJs Be Political Appointees?

Posted by John Kuhnlein | Jul 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

President Trump's recent executive order changed the way that the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) are appointed. This was done in response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision Lucia v. SEC.  Now that commentators have had a chance to digest this

Trust Me

change, many fear it is a step in the wrong direction.

Neither Lawyers Nor Judges Favor New Approach

The National Association of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), for example, denounced Trump's executive order. In a statement by its leader, NOSSCR suggested that the change would threaten the independence of the ALJs. Their fear is that Trump's executive order would introduce politics into what should be a non-partisan process.  

Zahm Says No!

The head of the ALJs union, Marilyn Zahm, also strongly dislikes Trump's order.  As the head of the ALJ union, Ms. Zahm is not disinterested. Zahm did note, however, that the Trump administration did not reach out to her union before issuing the executive order. This suggests that Trump was not interested in negotiating a solution to the Lucia problem (An odd decision for the world's greatest negotiator.)

Federalist Society To The Disabled: Drop Dead

There is some logic to these fears as the courts have become a profoundly partisan battleground.  The same organization determined to get strong conservatives onto the Federal bench could focus on ALJs. I would not be surprised to see a concerted effort to appoint ALJs who are opposed to Social Security disability entirely. Sadly, there are people out there who would love to dismantle the protections for such persons as the disabled.

Mere Rhetoric?

So far, at least, these criticisms are mere rhetoric. But, it is a question worth asking: do we want Social Security

Henceforth And Forever Free?

ALJs to be appointed?  It might seem like a great idea when your party is in control, but do you trust the next President to appoint ALJs? Maybe it makes more sense to just stick with a merit-based system and find a better solution to the Lucia decision.

About the Author

John Kuhnlein

Since 1992, I have been helping the people of Southern Arizona get the benefits they are due. Before devoting all my efforts to assisting people with Social Security disability claims, I also handled such complex lawsuits as medical malpractice and products liability. I brought to my Social Security cases all the skills and attention to detail that I developed in the courtroom. I approach each Social Security disability case as if it were a million-dollar lawsuit. For the people trying to get Social Security benefits, their claim is every bit as important. Because I have personally handled so many Social Security cases, I have refined the skills I need to win your case for you. I have helped people win cases for every kind of ailment from arthritis to valley fever. At present, I am focused on helping those persons with neurological and orthopedic disorders. Because claims for people over age fifty bring additional complications, I particularly seek out those cases to work on. I regularly write about back and spine conditions on my blog. I actively seek out the latest information about orthopedic and neurological disorders to ensure I can represent my clients as effectively as possible. Because of my current focus, I regret that I am not able to take any cases for mental disorders. If you are over age fifty and suffer from any orthopedic or neurological disorder, please contact me at once.


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John Kuhnlein has been assisting people with Social Security disability claims for the past 25+ years.

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