Commissioner Michael Astrue instituted a new policy in December 2011 keeping the name of the Administrative Law Judge a secret until the day of the hearing. This policy was widely criticized by advocates because it was unnecessary. Although regulations have always provided that cases are assigned to Judges in rotation by the hearing office, former commissioner Astrue felt that it was necessary for program integrity. Representatives are not able to select the Judge that will hear their client's case. Claimants began filing Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain the name of the Judge.Social Security was required by the courts to disclose the name of the Judge. When Carol Colvin was appointed as new commissioner the secret judge policy was abandoned.. Knowing the name of the Judge helps representative prepare the claimant's evidence in the most efficient manner for presentation at the hearing to individual Judge. Judges have preferences and knowing those preferences is helpful to them as well as claimants.
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