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    The job of an ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) is to apply the law to the facts of your case and determine whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. The law is pretty developed, and Social Security has procedures on top of procedures to ensure that a consistent decision-making process is employed. In theory, it should not affect you in any way which disability judge is assigned to your case.

    However, the numbers paint a different picture. I have compiled and analyzed statistics of the ALJs at Louisiana’s ODAR offices. These statistics were compiled by Social Security itself for September 26, 2015, through December 25, 2015. I used that information to take a look at all of the ALJs determining disability benefit decisions for Louisiana SSDI claims. I separated the information by ODAR office and sorted by award percentage (lowest to highest). The award numbers are then broken down into fully favorable and partially favorable awards. The national average award percentage was 54.6%. Approval rates for three of Louisiana’s four ODAR offices came in below the national average. Alexandra at 49.2%, Metairie at 49.4%, and Shreveport at 50.7. The New Orleans ODAR office had approval rates above the national average at 63.5%. The Louisiana average was just below the national average of 53.4%. However, approval rates for ALJs in Louisiana range from 86.5% to just 28% and everywhere in between.

    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Wahlder, Michael M ALEXANDRIA 26 19 (73.1%) 7 (26.9%)
    DeLoach, Rowena E ALEXANDRIA 94 61 (64.9%) 33 (35.1%)
    Allen, Matthew ALEXANDRIA 109 67 (61.5%) 42 (38.5%)
    Grant, Robert ALEXANDRIA 97 54 (55.7%) 43 (44.3%)
    Cravens, Steven L ALEXANDRIA 118 65 (55.1%) 53 (44.9%)
    Molinar, Kathleen S ALEXANDRIA 88 43 (48.9%) 45 (51.1%)
    Graalmann, Steven C ALEXANDRIA 70 30 (42.9%) 40 (57.1%)
    Smilie, Carolyn ALEXANDRIA 44 17 (38.6%) 27 (61.4%)
    Ragona, Lawrence T ALEXANDRIA 104 38 (36.5%) 66 (63.5%)
    Fields, Kim A ALEXANDRIA 113 41 (36.3%) 72 (63.7%)
    Latham, Carol L ALEXANDRIA 50 14 (28.0%) 36 (72.0%)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Juge, Christopher H METAIRIE 110 68 (61.8%) 42 (38.2%)
    Hertzig, Michael S METAIRIE 82 43 (52.4%) 39 (47.6%)
    Wiedemann, Karen METAIRIE 103 53 (51.5%) 50 (48.5%)
    Perez, Gerardo METAIRIE 45 23 (51.1%) 22 (48.9%)
    Deans, Joan H METAIRIE 69 32 (46.4%) 37 (53.6%)
    Lobo, Benita A METAIRIE 93 40 (43.0%) 53 (57.0%)
    Stewart, Timothy G METAIRIE 85 31 (36.5%) 54 (63.5%)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    White, Charlotte N NEW ORLEANS 52 45 (86.5%) 7 (13.5%)
    Anzalone, Kerry J NEW ORLEANS 72 60 (83.3%) 12 (16.7%)
    Voisin, Glynn F NEW ORLEANS 84 69 (82.1%) 15 (17.9%)
    Burgess, John R NEW ORLEANS 63 51 (81.0%) 12 (19.0%)
    Volz, III, Louis J NEW ORLEANS 147 93 (63.3%) 54 (36.7%)
    Pizzo, Nancy M NEW ORLEANS 98 60 (61.2%) 38 (38.8%)
    Gattuso, Mary NEW ORLEANS 51 29 (56.9%) 22 (43.1%)
    Hilleren, Christine NEW ORLEANS 77 30 (39.0%) 47 (61.0%)
    Henderson, Thomas G NEW ORLEANS 101 36 (35.6%) 65 (64.4%)
    Donaldson, Angela NEW ORLEANS 0 0 (N/A) 0 (N/A)
    Judge Office Decisions Awards Denials
    Abbondondelo, Mary SHREVEPORT 131 93 (71.0%) 38 (29.0%)
    Antonowicz, John SHREVEPORT 90 48 (53.3%) 42 (46.7%)
    Lindsay, Charles R. SHREVEPORT 108 50 (46.3%) 58 (53.7%)
    Bundy, W. Thomas SHREVEPORT 76 30 (39.5%) 46 (60.5%)
    Wright, Charlotte A SHREVEPORT 92 31 (33.7%) 61 (66.3%)

     

    ALJ SSDI Approval Rates at the Appeal Hearing LevelWhile there is not much you can do about the ALJ that gets assigned to your case, this information is important to know because it can impact how you prepare your claim and yourself for the hearing in front of the ALJ. For example, if your ALJ denies a large percentage of the cases heard, you may want to move for an on-the-record decision (which can be granted by ODAR staff attorneys). Or you may want to know what information will be most helpful on an appeal and focus on that issue to make sure the record is fully developed for later proceedings.

    While this information provides a statistical representation of how ALJs have decided the cases before them during the reporting period, I will note that an ALJ can only make a decision based on the facts of the case in front them. What this means is that each case is different and you should not rely on the statistics provided above to determine whether or not your specific case will be decided one way or another.

    A local, experienced attorney who specializes in Social Security and is familiar with the different ALJs, their personalities and their expectations can best advise you on how to proceed. If you need help with your Louisiana Social Security Disability hearing or appeal, contact SSDI attorney Loyd Bourgeois at 985-240-9773 or submit an online case evaluation

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