Good News for ALJ Candidates


Good News for ALJ Candidates!
You are Ready for the New ALJ Application Procedures –
Whatever They May Be!

Nicole Schultheis, J.D. Senior ALJ Consultant, Writer and Author
July 16, 2018


Attention Administrative Law Judge candidates:


Many of you have received our book, ALJ Writing Guide, attended our webinars, or purchased consulting or editorial services in support of your candidacy as an ALJ. Despite the pending elimination of OPM’s ALJ Register, all of these resources will likewise support your ongoing and future efforts to attain an ALJ position with the Social Security Administration or other agency. Your favorable status in the OPM review process could facilitate a positive review of your credentials for one of the new Schedule E Excepted Service ALJ openings posted by one or more agencies; however, if you failed to meet or adequately document 7+ years of qualifying experience in hopes of taking the ALJ exam, or, failed to pass any part of the ALJ exam, this is no longer an automatic disqualifier. Per Executive Order No. 13843, 83 Fed. Reg. 32755 (July 10, 2018) and concomitant guidance from OPM, there is no longer an exam or an automatic minimum number of years’ experience required. The minimum is “good standing” or “active” status with the bar; on top of that, each agency may prescribe its own additional qualification requirements, but this part has yet to be decided by any agency.

SSA will be posting an ALJ announcement very soon, we believe, but its exact requirements have yet to be determined. Nevertheless, if you have yet to prepare or update your resume, targeting a specific ALJ role, now is the time to do it.

There have already been numerous articles and op-eds written about the July 10 Executive Order, some of which are misinformed. Much is cleared up by OPM’s July 10 Memorandum to the heads of executive departments and agencies by OPM Director Dr. Jeff T.H. Pon. Director Pon makes it clear that ALJs will not become at will employees but retain the protections afforded by the good cause removal provisions of 5 USC 7521. He further states:

“OPM will promulgate proposed regulations to address any provisions in the regulations, including those at 5 CFR part 930 and others identified in Section 3(b)(i) of the EO, that are inconsistent with service in the excepted service or use language that is generally inapplicable to the excepted service (e.g., references to the concepts of ‘probation’ or ‘suitability’).”

Although many favor simplified ALJ hiring, or view this transition as inevitable, given the Supreme Court’s decision in Lucia et al. v. Securities and Exchange Commission, not everyone is happy. For example, NOSSCR Executive Director Barbara Silverstone urges President Trump to rescind “this damaging and unnecessary order”:

“At a time when over 900,000 people are waiting an average of more than 600 days for ALJs to rule on their claims for disability benefits-with more than 10,000 dying last year while awaiting a decision-actions that slow down and complicate ALJ hiring are harmful to Americans who need disability benefits to maintain their housing, put food on their tables, and obtain crucial medical treatments.”

Still, the new order is likely good news for those seeking ALJ appointments. What it means, however, is that having a strong, fully-developed federal style resume is more important than ever. Your credentials and capabilities will no longer be vetted primarily by an exam, but by your resume. Contact us here to discuss available resume support.

Latest Developments:

7/12: NOSSCR: Statement of NOSSCR Executive Director Barbara Silverstone Concerning Executive Order Changing Hiring of Administrative Law Judges

7/11: ABA Journal: Trump tosses hiring process for administrative law judges, gives agency chiefs selection power

7/11: FedSmith: ALJs Excepted from Competitive Service

7/11: GovExec.com: Democrats, Advocacy Groups Pan Order Moving Administrative Judges Out of Competitive Service

7/10: OPM: Memo to CHCOC

7/10: Executive Order – Exec. Ord. No. 13,843, 83 Fed. Reg. 32,755 (July 10, 2018) Excepting ALJs from the Competitive Service


Article author: Nicole Schultheis

Since 2010, Maryland attorney Nicole Schultheis has supported candidates seeking to become Administrative Law Judges, Immigration Judges, Administrative Judges, and Administrative Patent Judges. She has taught resume writing to aspiring legal candidates and others at numerous Federal agencies, successfully helping those seeking executive leadership roles at the Department of Justice and its components, as well as agencies across the Executive Branch. For more than 25 years, Nicole led her own law firm in Baltimore, Maryland before her focus shifted to teaching, writing, and professional mentorship.


The Resume Place coaches, instructs, reviews and provides consulting, writing and editorial services for aspiring SES members who are writing their ECQs. RP teaches ECQ Writing in many government agencies, especially for Leadership Development Programs. Our book, The New SES Application, gives examples, definitions and insight for writing the ECQs. Nicole Schultheis is our lead SES writer with many years of expertise writing successful ECQs on behalf of applicants and agency selectees across government.


The ALJ Writing Guide includes: samples of attorney federal resumes; definitions of the 13 ALJ Core Competencies (which are useful for any attorney federal resume); example of the narratives for the former ALJ application (Litigation and Administration); and a great example of a Case List. All of this information is helpful for writing an Attorney-Advisor or US States Attorney, or Immigration Judge Federal Resume.

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ALJ Writing Guide (also works for IJ and other attorney federal resume applications.

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How to Get Help with Your ALJ / IJ / Attorney-Advisor Federal Resumes for Excepted Service Positions

The Resume Place can consult, edit, review and write your federal resume for the above positions. Request Consultation about your ALJ, IJ, US Attorney, or Attorney-Advisor Federal resumes.

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