Within government agencies, important decisions are not always made by judges and, in fact, many decisions can be made by adjudications officers at the local, state, and federal levels. These professionals review documents and legal cases to make definitive decisions on next steps. Since adjudications officers practice law, they must hold a state license to do so, and will more than likely require a Juris Doctor degree.
Adjudication officers are the key contact points in various departments within the United States government. They review petitions and applications submitted to governmental agencies in order to make a decision regarding their statuses. Although not judges, adjudications officers are often the first point of contact in the decision-making process in the applications process. This career typically requires a law degree as well as a state license to practice law. Two types of adjudications officers within the agencies of the government are those dealing with social security issues and those reviewing homeland security issues.
|Required Education||JD degree|
|Other Requirements||State license to practice law|
|Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)||2%* (for all administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers)|
|Median Annual Pay (2018)|| $99,850 annually
$48.00 hourly* (for all administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers)
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Job Description of an Adjudications Officer within the Social Security Administration
Adjudications officers in the Social Security Administration conduct prehearing procedures for disability benefits cases. These officers first conduct exams or interviews, which determine the feasibility of allowing claimants for disability to pursue their cases before an administrative law judge. In addition, they assist claimants and their legal representatives in understanding the legal process necessary for claiming disability.
Once a claim has been made, adjudications officers must obtain the evidence submitted for the claim by the claimants and submit it, if necessary, to the judge. If, upon viewing the evidence, the adjudications officer rules in the claimant's favor, then benefits are granted and the case doesn't need to go to a judge. If the adjudications officer can't make a judgment, then the case proceeds to the judge to decide an outcome.
Job Description of an Adjudications Officer within the Department of Homeland Security
Adjudications officers in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security review cases for visas, resident status, and citizenship. Accordingly, these officers must research, interpret, and apply immigration, nationality, and citizenship law to grant status to applicants. In addition, they must conduct background searches, including researching documentation and conducting interviews and investigations to determine the authenticity of applications and petitions.
Should a case go to court, adjudications officers may be requested to appear for proceedings against or concerning their applicants. In addition, they are asked to liaise with legal representatives, government agencies, the media, and other community organizations to assist all parties, should the need arise. Based on their meetings, they are often asked to evaluate the application process.
Salary Info and Job Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of administrative judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers, is expected to decrease slower than average between 2018 and 2028. In May 2018, the BLS reported that workers in the 90th percentile or higher earned $169,640 or more per year, whereas the bottom 10th percentile earned $45,120 or less per year.
Adjudications officers provide citizens with decisions on important government matters. Like judges, these professionals must hold law degrees and be licensed to practice law, and adjudications officers can specialize in various areas, such as Social Security or Homeland Security. Employment opportunities have been on a decline for this profession, and the BLS predicts that the availability of open positions will drop through 2028.