On April 23rd, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case of Lucia v. SEC, which raises the question of the legitimacy of the appointment of federal administrative law judges (“ALJs”). Although the case deals with ALJs in the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Court’s ruling could call into question the legitimacy of how Social Security ALJs are appointed.
Currently SEC and Social Security administrative law judges are appointed through the government civil service process. The lower court held that these ALJs were not subject to Presidential appointment but could be hired through the civil service process. President Obama supported the lower court’s position; President Trump has reversed that stance and argues that the Constitution requires these ALJs to be appointed by him or someone he designates.
If the Supreme Court sides with Lucia and President Trump and the legitimacy of Social Security ALJs is challenged, it could cause further delays in scheduling Social Security hearings while the implications of the Court’s ruling are litigated.
Our firm is a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) which has filed a fired of the court brief asking that the Supreme Court portect the independence of Social Security ALJs and issue a ruling which does not call into question their legitimacy. The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to be issued sometime in the next several months.