On April 13, I blogged about the recent lawsuit brought against several Queens ALJs, which claims that these judges show a pattern of bias against the disability claimants whose cases they decide. Last night I was discussing this lawsuit with Lew Insler, one of the partners at my firm, and we compared notes on our experiences before different judges throughout New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
Nothwithstanding my strong assertions regarding those Queens judges, I think it is important to point out that they represent the exception as opposed to the rule. In fact, I have found that the vast majority of ALJs are fair, just, and understanding individuals.
Disability claimants no doubt benefit by being represented by an attorney who is familiar with the unique personality of the ALJ before whom they may appear. For example, certain ALJs prefer specific types of evidence to assist them in making decisions, and an experienced attorney who has appeared before that judge would be aware of such requirements. Unrepresented claimants are at a disadvantage when they aren't familiar with the ALJ's approach to hearings and how he or she tends to interpret different types of evidence.
This merely goes to emphasize how important it is that your attorney knows not only the law but the ALJ who will be applying it to your particular case. While the vast majority of ALJs fairly apply the law, sometimes knowledge of these subtleties can make the difference between a favorable and unfavorable outcome.
Brian Anson, Esq.