The 50 Social Security Administrative Law Judges With The Worst Grant Rates in 2012

There have been renewed discussions that Social Security judges are too lax and paying too many benefits to claimants who do not deserve them. Earlier this week, several current and former Administrative Law Judges (“ALJs”) testified before Congress that the Social Security Administration is purportedly pushing ALJs to award benefits (or grant benefits) in an effort to reduce the rather large backlog of disability claims in the system. This further feeds the misperception that ALJs are approving claims willy-nilly left and right. Just as there are Judges who have high approval rates or grant rates (the percentage of claims approved out of all claims disposed), there are Judges who have extremely low grant rates and deny the vast majority of claims that they decide. In order to prove this, I crunched the data from all Social Security disability claims decided in Fiscal Year 2012. The data was found here: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/appeals/DataSets/Archive/archive_data_reports.html. [Update: the raw, unedited data can be found here in the archives for 2012: http://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/archive/archive_data_reports.html#ht=1].

To give some context, my final spreadsheet tally had 1,589 judges. Some ALJs handled claims across more than one Office of Adjudication and Review. I combined the data for each Judge across all jurisdictions. I eliminated all Judges with less than 100 dispositions, as that would be too small a sample size.  I then organized the data to show the 50 Administrative Law Judges with the Worst Grant Rates.  All of the Judges below deny more than 3 out of every 4 claims.

Although it is a big state, poor Texas has a disproportionate number of judges who are in this distinguished group with nine, and five of the top ten.  Judge Rodriguez grants less than 5% of cases.

You can download a copy of my complete spreadsheet: click here for ALJ_DISPOSITION_DATA_2012 – ORTIZ LAW CRUNCHED.xlsx.

Below is a detailed chart of my findings:

JUDGE OFFICE TOTAL_DISPOSITIONS TOTAL_AWARDS TOTAL_DENIALS Grant Rate
Rodriguez, Gilbert DALLAS NORTH 502 21 333 4.18%
Thompson, Jr., John D. JACKSONVILLE 416 48 221 11.54%
Suttles, Gary J HOUSTON-BISSONNET 503 59 317 11.73%
Pappenfus, J. CREVE COEUR 603 73 360 12.11%
Swank, Drew A. RICHMOND AND CHARLOTTESVILLE 536 66 356 12.31%
Blucher, Jonathan P SAN ANTONIO 328 42 246 12.80%
Orr, Walter DALLAS NORTH 443 58 295 13.09%
Soddy, Susan J HOUSTON-BISSONNET 603 81 402 13.43%
Loucas, Penny SPRINGFIELD MA AND CLEVELAND 409 58 260 14.18%
Eisman, Robert S NORWALK 409 62 232 15.16%
Perry- Dowdell, Leslie PITTSBURGH 766 117 278 15.27%
Flanagan, Brendan F JACKSONVILLE AND ATLANTA 467 72 337 15.42%
Collins, Peri DALLAS DOWNTOWN 512 82 332 16.02%
Kramzyk, Henry VALPARAISO IN 457 78 319 17.07%
Shultz, Arthur J DALLAS NORTH 379 65 213 17.15%
Jones, Paul W LANSING 557 98 330 17.59%
Ritter, Wayne L MILWAUKEE 505 90 298 17.82%
Toal, Patrick J MILWAUKEE 477 86 245 18.03%
Barnes-Williams, Janice E TOPEKA KS AND KANSAS CITY 466 85 197 18.24%
Berry, James P FRESNO 108 20 77 18.52%
Flebbe, Diane R PEORIA 604 112 385 18.54%
Showalter, Judith A DOVER 542 103 325 19.00%
O’Hara, Mark A CHARLOTTESVILLE 261 50 170 19.16%
Zirlin, Peggy M LONG BEACH 500 99 175 19.80%
Xenos, Oksana DETROIT 503 100 322 19.88%
Hatfield, David G SEVEN FIELDS 364 73 107 20.05%
Gilbert, Michael TACOMA WA AND EUGENE 232 47 129 20.26%
Schum, Randolph E CREVE COEUR 780 159 461 20.38%
Smith, Deborah CINCINNATI 347 71 200 20.46%
McLean, Jennie L. OKLAHOMA CITY 293 60 191 20.48%
Everstine, Mary L SANTA BARBARA 439 91 271 20.73%
Ragona, Lawrence T ALEXANDRIA 697 146 354 20.95%
Erickson, Allen G HOUSTON-BISSONNET 542 116 290 21.40%
Keller, Timothy G COLUMBUS 481 104 230 21.62%
Merchant, George W NHC ST LOUIS AND BIRMINGHAM 447 97 264 21.70%
Ouellette, Richard E TAMPA 423 92 280 21.75%
Pierce, Phylis M ST PETERSBURG FL AND RICHMOND 821 179 387 21.80%
Kupersmith, Linda E MIAMI 192 42 71 21.88%
Marceille, Curt NHC CHICAGO AND ORLAND PARK 521 114 323 21.88%
Welsch, Barbara J PEORIA 300 66 189 22.00%
Benitz, Melvin D DOVER 472 104 280 22.03%
Lokey, Marguerite DALLAS DOWNTOWN 225 50 162 22.22%
Lombardo, Amelia G DAYTON 453 101 267 22.30%
Colon, Arline ST PETERSBURG FL 592 132 270 22.30%
McFadden-Elmore, Peggy COLUMBIA SC 349 78 205 22.35%
Shilling, Michael D TOPEKA KS 581 131 357 22.55%
Morris, Tom L WEST DES MOINES 313 71 191 22.68%
Lash, Jennifer M PHILADELPHIA EAST 626 143 284 22.84%
Sanzi, Thomas J MADISON 349 81 220 23.21%
Musseman, William COLORADO SPRINGS 787 185 464 23.51%

Posted by Nick A. Ortiz, Esq.


Mr. Ortiz founded The Ortiz Law Firm in June 2012. His practice is limited to representing the injured and disabled. Mr. Ortiz is a Board Certified Social Security Disability Attorney and handles SSDI and SSI initial applications an appeals. He handles Long Term Disability (LTD), Short Term Disability (STD), Individual Disability Insurance, and ERISA Disability claims. He also represents individuals who have suffered serious injuries in accidents. He offers free consultations, so call 850-308-7833 to see if he can be of any assistance in your claim.