Abrams v. Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 11-3177 (Fed. Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Judge Abrams was an ALJ with the Social Security Administration since 2001. In 2007 the national office sent regional offices guidelines to facilitate case processing and service delivery. A Collective Bargaining Agreement between SSA and its ALJs provided that the benchmarks were guidelines, and would not be used as a source of any disciplinary or performance action. Later that year a nationwide initiative began to move cases through the process more quickly, with a particular focus on completing cases that were more than 900 days old. Abrams had frequently come to management’s attention due to his difficulty in timely processing cases. Efforts to address this included agreeing to exchange his older cases for newer cases, not assigning new cases or giving him “thin” cases, offering him docket management training, and offering to have his aged cases reassigned; the latter two he refused. After attempts to work with Abrams in 2007-2008, the SSA filed three complaints and sought suspensions for failure to follow instructions. The three complaints were combined, and a hearing was conducted. The ALJ concluded the evidence weighed in favor of removal. The initial decision was affirmed by the full Merit Systems Protection Board and the Federal Circuit.