Periodically I like to post some useful information for Social Security Disability and SSI claimants in Tennessee.
Social Security Disability and SSI claimants (and their representatives) are going to be hamstrung and disadvantaged by a new policy instituted by the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) effective December 19, 2011 where the identity of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to a claimant's case will not be disclosed until the time of the hearing. Apparently, the rationale for this new policy is to stop the alleged practice of some advocates who, ODAR claims, "forum shop" to avoid particular ALJs in video hearings and as a reaction to recent attention about "outlier" ALJs with high allowance rates.
Social Security Disability and SSI claims often involve vocational information and testimony from vocational experts. Sometimes vocational information is in a report from a person who has never seen the claimant, but simply has reviewed the record. More often a vocational expert appears at the hearing to provide testimony. After a finding of medical disability, the question becomes whether the claimant can do past work or any other work, perhaps at a lighter or sedentary level. A 55-year-old coal miner with a fifth grade education is in a different position than a 40-year-old with a graduate degree.