There are a variety of workers' compensation programs that exist to provide for workers who have been injured. These programs act as parallel compensation plans besides your employer's insurance and state agencies. But, what happens if a dispute arises? This article will explore the administrative law judges and how they impact your case.
Everyone knows the three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Courts. It is safe to assume that the Courts handle disputes because they are the arbiters of the law. However, this is not always true. The Executive also maintains its own cohort of judges, the ALJs.
The ALJs decide disputes between the government and people affected by its decisions. For example, if you file a claim for Black Lung workers' compensation and you are denied, you would eventually appeal up to an ALJ. The ALJs conduct hearings to investigate your claim and make a determination. The hearings are treated similarly to trials but without a jury.
There are numerous protections for ALJs to ensure that their judgment remains impartial. ALJs are protected under the Administrative Procedure Act which protects judges from efficiency ratings, promotions, demotions and other supervisory powers. Their compensation is set only by the Office of Personnel Management, an independent agency.
If you disagree with the ALJs finding, you can seek a further appeal within the agency. Additionally, the federal courts retain authority to review ALJ decisions. Bear in mind that not all claims are heard by the Department of Labor. The Federal Mine Safety Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other agencies have their own ALJs.
If you have a pending claim for black lung or some other program, then you may want to speak to an attorney.