Social Security is home to the country’s largest administrative law system. Practice law in a public service environment that is professional, supportive, and collegial. Opportunities exist for both attorneys and legal support staff.
The Office of the General Counsel and the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review are the two components of Social Security staffed primarily by attorneys and legal support professionals. Additionally, our Office of Human Resources also hires qualified attorneys to work in labor relations.
The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) promotes, advocates, and protects all legal interests of the Social Security Administration.
The Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) administers the hearings and appeals process for Social Security. There is a full range of positions in diverse areas within ODAR, ranging from entry-level to those requiring many years of experience in the profession.
Skills We Look For
- Specific types of legal or legal support experience and/or supporting coursework.
- Strong oral and written communication skills
- Strong analytical skills with demonstrated attention to detail
Examples of Positions in This Area Include:
Legal Support & Legal Assistants provide legal and technical support to Administrative Law Judges and other technical and professional positions to process entitlement cases at the administrative appeals levels. These employees review and analyze a wide variety of medical and legal documentation. These positions become progressively responsible for developing and processing requests for hearing cases from receipt to completion and independently perform a wide range of case development actions.
Paralegal Specialists & Paralegal Analysts serve as authoritative specialists and program experts in the adjudication of Social Security disability and non-disability cases. These employees analyze, research, and develop cases, formulate comprehensive decisions, and act on requests for hearings. They also provide technical advice and assistance to the Administrative Law Judges in the review and analysis of cases prior to and after hearings, in the preparation of decisions, and other post-hearing actions.
Paralegal Specialists (Decision Writers) primarily write the decisions for Social Security disability and non-disability cases. These employees analyze, research, and develop cases on requests for hearing. They also ensure that all decisions are consistent with adjudication policies in Social Security law, regulations, and rulings.
General Attorneys work within the Office of the General Counsel. These attorneys represent Social Security before administrative agencies and provide legal advice on matters ranging from family and trust law to employment law and labor relations. They also deal with torts, ethics, bankruptcy, civil rights matters, federal procurement law, and Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act issues.
Field Attorneys work in Hearings Offices for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review across the country. These attorneys provide professional legal assistance to Administrative Law Judges. Field Attorneys also assist in pre-hearing legal preparation, research, decision preparation, and post-hearing actions.
Staff Attorneys work in the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in Falls Church, Virginia. These attorneys serve in a variety of roles in areas such as Labor Relations, Contract Law, and Administration, and review cases relative to their component’s function. They also develop administrative law procedures, policy, and guidelines concerning hearings, appeals, and civil action processes.
Attorney-Examiners (Administrative Appeals Judges/AAJs) work for the Appeals Council to review the Administrative Law Judge decisions and dismissals. These attorneys work with the Office of the General Counsel on decisions appealed to the courts and recommend whether appeals should be taken to higher courts on judicial reversals of the Commissioner’s decision. To qualify for an Administrative Appeals Judge position, applicants are required to have seven years of legal experience.
Attorney Advisors perform a variety of activities related to hearings and appeals processes. They support and assist Administrative Appeals Judges on the Appeals Council. They adjudicate denials of requests for review by the Appeals Council and provide advice and assistance to the Chief Administrative Law Judge.
Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) serve as impartial arbiters at regulatory and benefits-granting agencies. ALJs conduct impartial de novo hearings and issue decisions to claimants who appeal the denial of their benefits. ALJ positions exist in over 140 Hearing Offices across the country. Generally, applicants must have seven years of appropriate legal experience and must apply directly to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for consideration. For more information on qualifications for ALJ opportunities, visit OPM's Qualification Standard for Administrative Law Judge Positions webpage.
Please note: All attorney positions require that an employee is a member of the Bar within the United States or U.S. territories and be in good standing. No additional tests are required for these positions. Attorneys may be hired at entry-level or higher depending upon prior experience.