A Government Success Story: How Data Analysis by the Social Security Appeals Council (with a Push from the Administrative Conference of the United States) is Transforming Social Security Disability Adjudication

Jeffrey Lubbers, American University Washington College of Law


This Article for the special issue on the Administrative Conference of the United States ("ACUS") focuses on how a collaboration between ACUS and the Social Security Administration ("SSA") has helped SSA use data analysis to bring about significant improvements in the quality and consistency of disa- bility case review. SSA's efforts to closely analyze numerous data points in the disability adjudication process (encouraged by ACUS recommendations) have produced information that has led to breakthroughs in how training is provided and feedback is given to Administrative Law Judges and other key staff, which has in turn led to improved productivity and accuracy of work products. The data analyses have also helped inform the agency about differ- ences between agency and federal court interpretation of agency policies, thereby helping to inform policy drafting discussions. These techniques ad- vanced by the SSA Appeals Council have potentially far-reaching applicabil- ity to other federal and state government programs and could promote more effective, efficient, and consistent government service at a lower cost in such programs.