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Judges Ordered to Stop Deciding Disability Cases So Managers Can Get Bonuses

On a normal day, Administrative Law Judges working on disability cases for the Social Security Administration dispose of 3,000 cases. On Monday, Sept. 26, they adjudicated only 230, according to

. Why the huge slowdown in a $125 billion system with a

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, in which

Is it some kind of wildcat judge strike? A computer crash? No. According to the

Journal

, the slowdown was ordered by Social Security Administrators trying to juke their production statistics in the coming fiscal year.

As the

Journal

explains it, the federal fiscal year can have only 52 weeks. Because the calendar year is a day and a quarter longer than that, every five or six years there is an orphaned week that falls after the end of one fiscal year but before the beginning of the next. This is that week, so for the purposes of an incentive program put into place to speed the resolution of disability cases, everything done this week doesn't count toward the annual numerical targets. A field office director who operated as normal would thus be giving up ground to his colleagues who slowed or stopped work. Hence, the nationwide slowdown in case resolutions, which would appear to put all the managers on an equal footing:

Skwierczynski complained to higher ups and on Wednesday, the agency's chief judge, Debra Bice, sent a memo to all judges ordering them to close cases normally, the

Journal

reports. Too early to tell, statistically, whether the judges resumed their normal work pace after that.

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