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Today, over thirty federal agencies enlist the services of about 1,600 administrative law judges. 85% of all Federal Administrative Law Judges are employed by the Social Security Administration. ALJ's handle cases that go to the heart of the economic and social structure of our nation. Typically, these cases present complex legal and factual issues involving laws and regulations related to subject matter such as; agriculture, banking, energy, labor, transportation, Medicare and Social Security.
The Association of Administrative Law Judges (AALJ) represents over 1,200 of these judges, who work within the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). Social Security Administrative Law Judges function in a high volume court system with the administrative law judges, unlike judges in other agencies, having the responsibility to develop a complete record, protect the interests of the trust fund and render a decision based on the evidence in the hearing record.
The SSA administrative law judges, the largest corps of judges in the federal judiciary, presided in over 550,000 cases in 2011. Their decisions impact the lives of millions of Americans every year. The average lifetime award for each disability claim is in excess of $250,000 per case and the potential lifetime payout of all cases adjudicated by administrative law judges in SSA exceeds $80 billion dollars per year. Serving the public in about 160 hearing offices around the country, administrative law judges play an important role in overseeing the enforcement of federal law and the distribution of government benefits.
For most Americans, if they are to have a day in federal court, it will be before an administrative law judge.