Answer the Call to Public Service, Become an Administrative Law Judge

a picture of glasses on an administrative law legal bookBecoming an Administrative Law Judge gives you the opportunity to improve the lives of others by ensuring everyone is treated fairly, impartially, and compassionately.

An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) serves as an impartial judge at regulatory and benefits-granting agencies. There are approximately 1700 federal ALJs nationwide, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) employs about 1500 of them.

At SSA, we need dedicated individuals looking to make a difference in someone’s life by becoming Administrative Law Judges. It is a family friendly work environment with a flexible schedule.

Our ALJs work with a nationwide support team in over 162 Hearing Offices across the country. We need ALJs in many states, including rural locations. We also need ALJs, bilingual in Spanish, in New York and Puerto Rico.

To become an Administrative Law Judge:

  • You must be licensed and authorized to practice law;
  • You must have seven years of experience in litigation or administrative law as a licensed attorney; and
  • You must apply directly to a posting on the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS website once available.

Sound interesting? If so, make sure you create your USAJOBS account and set notifications to alert you when OPM announces new Administrative Law Judge vacancies. You will also need to create a Federal Resume.

IMPORTANTthe announcement opened on March 29, 2016 and you must submit an application package by April 8, 2016. Apply directly to this posting on the Office of Personnel Management’s USAJOBS website.

Click here for ALJ Examination notification: ALJ Announcement on USA JOBS

By becoming an Administrative Law Judge, you serve the public by ruling on cases that have a profound impact on people’s lives. Join our group of dedicated and committed professionals. Visit OPM’s Qualification Standards for Administrative Law Judge Positions or our SSA ALJ Recruitment Site for more information today!


58 thoughts on “Answer the Call to Public Service, Become an Administrative Law Judge

  1. I applied last year or so to be an AlJ but never heard a thing. I suspect that as a sole practitioner for about 40 years, only government employees or persons connected to the government e.g. former judges or military ever get the job. Let’s face it, only government types obtain government jobs. Oh, I once had a six year government job as a ground pounder for six years in U.S. Army.

  2. Thank you for the post. I have found that with hard work, networking and through volunteer work, I have found jobs in about six cities in the US, Spain, and Switzerland.

  3. I just wish they’d employ some more educated, courteous, someone who CAN READ the facts as presented in the ‘Claims Review area’, at the forefront on this whole process!!
    It took me over 3 1/2 YEARS from my first submittal of the requested & required information til the ALJ Finally approved my case!!
    The amount of time wasted was truly exorbitant and Stressful, which Does Not Help ANYBODY’s Physical, Mental, Spiritual & all-around disabling condition!
    If the people who read the submitted information provided to them, and the “Dr-type specialists” who are charged with the responsibility to deny or approve the cases submitted ONLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT Impact their decision has on us who’ve applied for Social Security Disability Insurance. only understood
    It’s not easy to have to swallow ones pride, let alone have to go through the grief process of having to give up their career when it’s NOT the choice they want to have to make! It’s instead made by the recommendation of their Dr/Dr’s and their own Inability to Do Their Job any more. Or any other type of job either as was my case.
    Anyways, I truly hope and pray THIS PART of the Disability-filing process gets fixed, in the MO Region in particular!

    • I agree! I went through the whole process only to go in front of a young ALJ who not only questioned my integrity but that of my husband who is a 30 year law enforcement officer. I walked away feeling humiliated and very sad. And after all of that he denied my claim. To this day I suffer from great pain, anxiety and depression. This is in CA.

      • I’d encourage you to re-apply if you can. IF you didn’t use a Lawyer who specializes in Disability claims, I’ll encourage you again to do so.. Especially in light of 1) the recent ICD-10 (actual diagnosis code for Fibromyalgia) that was added for FIBRO & not a “junk code” we had to use before last October when it was announced as being added.
        2) I don’t know how long your case took, but it’s never quick, or even ‘decent’ in the Midwest region! –3 1/2 years for me with a SS Disability Specialized Lawyer who’d actually worked for an actual SS Disability Office!! (She’s in KC area, if you are. I’d be more than happy to send you her name & phone # if you live in this area! 👍😉👌
        I just don’t know how to reach you, besides right here.
        I’m on Facebook, Twitter, & Google+,
        3) wishing you the Very Best in Life – both physically and emotionally. I’d sure like to help someone who could use my assistance! 😊
        Good luck – please reach out to me if you can figure out how to. 🙏,🙂
        I live in Raymore, MO 64083 if that tidbit helps..

        • Hello, my name is Kevin and I live in the suburbs of Dallas TX. I know the laws are different in different states but thought I would reach out to you some suggestions and/or advice. I’m going on my 4th year and finally had my hearing roughly 4-5 months ago and after 15 surgeries and many professionals stating I was disabled except one doctor the hearing Judge didn’t rule on the actual criteria/formula that one would have to meet before being eligible but made the comment that because that one Doctor that I would not be “considered” disabled I was denied and will be homeless within 4-6 weeks after going through every dime I had trying to make it financially until I received my retroactive disability benefits??

  4. It took me 5 years to get my SSD. Mine too went all the way to a ALJ. Like another poster said it wasted a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part. The system has many problems.

    • cw, it took me 5 yrs. of hell to be approved on the 2nd ssdi claim also!

      i recently wrote about this on their last article here so i won’t repeat it now.

      kay, i agree with you too.

      “Becoming an Administrative Law Judge gives you the opportunity to improve the lives of others by ensuring everyone is treated fairly, impartially, and compassionately.”

      my 1st ALJ in des moines, iowa was NOT fair, impartial, and showed NO compassion whatsoever.

      when his question to me upset me to the point of my crying; i’m a STRONG woman who rarely cries; he hurried me along to his next question vs. waiting for me to compose myself to answer this touchy subject.

      my 2nd alj, was the head alj; he was fair, impartial, and showed compassion.

      he told me it would be months before a decision since i represented myself since my lawyer quit me 4 yrs. into this.

      2nd alj approved me within 2 weeks!!

      1st claim was sent to appeals council where it sat for 2.5 yrs. in storage building with so many others.

      1st alj’s office was asked for a copy of the taped alj hearing; they REFUSED to provide it to my lawyer back then.

      so he didn’t send a BRIEF to appeals council as required.

      since lawyer quit me and i could not get des moines to provide me with the alj hearing tape, appeals council did NOT have to go thru my 2″ medical file to make their determination.

      they just read alj’s 3-4 page letter denying me and denied me WITHOUT READING ANY OF MY FILE!! grrrr. there was nothing fair about that.

      bettyg, iowa activist


  6. My late husband worked with disability law for several years, and really wanted to by an ALJ in the 1990s. He found the system to be totally politically based. He had an inherited neuropathy, and was told that he was too disabled to be an ALJ. No wonder the system is so slow and inefficient.

  7. The only thing I can say is I could, under the lenient requirements to apply for disability, get it. I believe if you can do anything at all you should be made to work. If you can only do a 4 hour day, I believe it should be supplemented. In my little town there are so many younger people that are on disability for their “bad backs, wrists, knees” that ride 4 wheelers, cut wood, mow lawns etc. that when I see them I wonder why I keep doing what I do when in pain. PRIDE! If they would be more clear and less generous with the terms of what is a disability and have it for the truly disabled we would not be in the shape we are in. People will take if it is offered, but if having a problem being around people is one of the criteria for disability then it is too dang easy to get on it. I have found that having to get off the couch and into something besides pajamas or sweatpants every day not only keeps me healthier but sane!

    • I do agree for years that disability was given to people with any mental condition at all and half of them needed to work. I have filed for disability, am single and have no one to help support me, so I know I will have to work whether able to or not. before a decision is made.

  8. After I requested a hearing, I got a notice one month later for medical records and work history. I got a notice of hearing the second month. My hearing was the third month after my appeal. The long wait time are for people who can’t get their case expedited.

    The ALJs approving all those cases between 2010 – 2013 didn’t help to reduce the backlog. It increased the backlog because people were telling their family and friends how easy it was to get approved and now everyone of them is on it. The news reporting how easy it was to collect disability didn’t help with the backlog because now everyone knows about it.

    The SSA quality review published that the DDS has a 97% accuracy rate or better. The ALJs total approvals should only be around 3% of the total DDS approvals.

    Making it harder to get approve will deter those who are looking for a free hand out.

  9. There is so much and too much going on in the Federal Sector. Each day much of the process goes unnoticed. Everyone knows the underlining answer in money. The money has been spent and no one cares to admit where and how it was done…all we get is new applications, claim forms, and boring statistics which is a waste of time. I believe there is an effective system that works. The court system and administrative laws. People need to stop making up their own rules, this is why the deficit ceilings are beyond reaching.

  10. An ALJ gets about $600 per case averaging 2 case per day. A SSDI attorney can get up to $6000 per case. The SSDI attorney can get up to 10 times what an ALJ makes.

    The national average of cases approved is 44% and 33% for denials. The SSDI attorneys are guaranteed to win more that 50% of their cases. Their salary is more than double of the ALJ.

    The SSA quality review of the DDS shows an accuracy rate of 97% or better. The error rate is 3% or less. There should be less people approved at the ALJ level.

  11. Those disability attorney are making so much money that they don’t want to be ALJs. They are a bunch of crooks doctoring up medical records with Residual Function Capacity and Medical Source Statements.

  12. New York and Puerto Rico has the highest approval rate above the national average. They are robbing the tax payers blind there.

  13. I received my ssid within 11 months after I filed. I guess the Good Lord knows I needed it and I could have filed for it in 2004, but I have never wanted a ” free ride” and I have a 10th grade education , my fault, I am not a poor, pitiful me type person and I have worked as a car crusher , non-ferrous metal “cleaner” , for a better way of putting it I have been a laborer in the Metal Recycling Business. And the work I have been doing , waiting until my knee just gave out , because the doctor told me in 1998 , when I was in a car wreck and injured my knee, that I need to wait for as long as I can to get a knee replacement , reason being he said is because, at that time, the technology available only had a time span of 15 to 20 years before you would have to do another one. So , I made it to 2014 before I applied for disability and Medicaid, even though in 2004 I was a passenger in a car that wrecked and I was life flighted to a trauma 1 care facility, I suffered a spinal cord injury and had to have 2 disk in my neck replaced, leaving the hospital with instructions for my mom and I for physical therapy exercises, no insurance , no help from a professional to get the feeling back in my arms back and legs, I couldn’t even feed myself, my poor mama had to do all of the care for me. But, God is Good, and I give all thanks to him for the miracles , just for me , that I have witnessed. 6 weeks after the life flight surgery and recovery, thanks to my sweet, wonderful mother, I was almost back to the condition I was in , just the bum knee and some neuropathy and omg , back pain now. I had not been to any doctor, clinic or ER until I was 48 years old and I had to get some relief from the pain. I paid , out of my pocket , approximately 250. / mo. , every month for 2 years for office visit and pain meds, and I was informed that my blood pressure was extremely high , stroke level , plus… So I had to get BP meds , one in the morning and one at bed time, the AMAZING doctor I was seeing , being the kind hearted compassionate person that had been my mother’s doctor for 30 yrs , gave me samples of the blood pressure meds , and made sure I had the samples until my SSID , was given a favorable decision, by the Social Security Doctors in Austin TX. I didn’t have to wait but 11 mos
    after I filed . I am not sure if I have a special Angel or if the proof is in the proverbial pudding, I will say this, social security and the TX Dept. Of Health & Human Services and Star Plus , have been wonderful to me. I have nothing but good things to say in the institutions help that goes above and beyond anything I ever expected.

  14. Stop handing out the free money to the disability attorneys. The backlog are cause by the ALJ approving all these cases. People are posting that there is an unwritten rule that people are denied initially by the DDS.

    What caused that rumor to start? The ALJ were approving too many people and overridden the DDS denial. The ALJ caused their own backlog. With rumors that it is routine to be denied by the DDS, more people were appealing their case to the hearing level causing more backlog.

  15. if only in the SSA process, “judges” were objective and non-political, empathetic and above all, helpful and non-adversarial — with regards to the health and well-being of applicants/clients.
    My daughter who has PTSD and crippling agoraphobia (concurrent with lupus and other issues keep her from working) has been directed to appear IN PERSON (against the advice of her doctors) at the appeal or else have her case dropped.
    With 5 years invested in the SSD quest, our hopes and resources are just about exhausted.
    We need a WA State SS lawyer (who will not drop the case at the last minute).

  16. These psychiatrist/psychologist just want the money and will write or do whatever the patients want.

    My next appointment might be cancel because another patient wants the psychiatrist to go to the hearing. I know that the psychiatrist is not doing this out of the kindness of her heart. She isn’t giving up her appointments, traveling all the way to the court, and wasting several hours of her time to not be compensated somehow.

    You know something is up when the claimant have their doctors coming to the hearing. They have been bought off.

  17. I am a Service Connected Veteran and I heard that I should a Clause with my Social Security Status and I am Paying Quarterly for Medicare A,B, and DE even with the Long Beach Social Security Office knowing above info. knowing I have Civil service retired Insurance etc. as they only would set up a phone interview with my Insurance agent at my house last year.

  18. I am a Psychiatrist living and working in Tucson Arizona. I would like to know if there are NY Vacancies for psychiatrists to do Social Security disability evaluations.

  19. I’ve heard over the years that it’s legal to have a second security number for filing purposes, and quite recently since I’m approaching 70 years of age. I’ve been informed that an American citizen by birth can have three (3) social security numbers. Now, is this true or not? Will you please inform. Please let me know the truth of the matter so I can properly advise family & friends. Thank You

  20. I am thinking about going into the field of disability law, but am not sure I am cut out for law school. I might make a good paralegal or non-attorney representative. Either way I want to go back to school. I’m looking at 2 programs:The University of Pittsburgh Law School offers a specialized Masters of Legal Studies with a concentration in disability law; the other is a Masters in paralegal studies that is more broad in scope and is offered online or on campus through the George Washington University school of professional studies. If there is anyone already working at ODAR or elsewhere in the field of disability law who can weigh in and let me know which program makes more sense, it would be much appreciated.

  21. While there is a lot of criticism of ALJs, I respect them. It is a difficult job and, frankly, someone has to make a decision. There are over a million disability cases pending for a hearing. While it would be great to pay everyone, the reality is Social Security is bankrupt. There are a lot of people who what a free handout, game the system, and claim disability but drive new SUVs. I know that there are a lot of people that are truly disabled, meaning they are physically or mentally unable to perform any work. However, there are twice as many people that think they are disabled but could work if they wanted to. Lets face it, as we get older we all have back pain, headaches, depression, knee pain, arthritis and fatigue. But there are a lot of hard working Americans that get up every day and go to work despite having a headache, backache or feeling depressed. They pay taxes, they pay into the social security system and they are contributing to society. What happened to the American Spirit? What happened to taking care of your neighbor? Why do expect the government, who we all hate and view with conspirator suspicion, to give out free money that was earned and paid into the system by hardworking Americans? I am all for truly helping the disabled but for every disabled person, there are 3 others that just want a hand out. Lets get back to making America Great.

  22. It is indeed my belief that mesothelioma will be the most deadly cancer. It’s got unusual features. The more I actually look at it the more I am certain it does not conduct itself like a true solid cells cancer. If perhaps mesothelioma is really a rogue virus-like infection, so there is the prospects for developing a vaccine as well as offering vaccination for asbestos uncovered people who are really at high risk connected with developing upcoming asbestos relevant malignancies. Thanks for discussing your ideas about this important health issue.

  23. Thanks for this article. I’d personally also like to express that it can often be hard when you are in school and merely starting out to initiate a long credit history. There are many pupils who are just simply trying to endure and have a protracted or positive credit history can occasionally be a difficult element to have.

  24. Greetings! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that might be able to correct this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share. Cheers!

  25. I am interested in becoming an ICE administrative law judge. I am licensed to practice law in Oklahoma and have 19 years’ experience in representing plaintiffs before the Social Security Administration.
    Please enroll me in the next class for creating a federal resume and send me the application forms.

  26. My name is Melissa Sturgis and I’m a disabled 49 year old who’ve been trying for the last five years to get SSI disability started for myself and each time I get the same old answer about going to the office or call to set up an appointment, bit, no one never answers the telephone to speak with. What can I do in order to get everything situated with my case and to get an appointment?

    • Hi. We are sorry to hear about your experience. You can apply online for disability benefits. You can started here. Also, you do not have to make an appointment to come in to our offices, but with an appointment, you will be helped before our walk-in customers. You can schedule an appointment with your local office by calling us at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a representative will assist you. In most cases, you can handle your business by phone. We hope this helps.

  27. Correct

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