About the Social Security disability rulings data

April 21, 2012

The data for this report came from the Social Security Administration. For each fiscal year, the agency’s Office of Disability and Adjudication Review posts a “public use data file.” This file shows how many decisions each administrative law judge made; it lists how many cases were denied, partially approved and fully approved.

For this report, we used a process called “Web scraping”: We took the current fiscal year’s data (for the period Oct. 1, 2011, through March 30, 2012) and combined it with the data for the 2011 fiscal year and the 2010 fiscal year.

We put all of the data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Then we used Google Refine to clean the data — standardizing the spelling of judges’ names and cities.

We then imported the spreadsheet into Microsoft Access, a database manager. This allowed us to group the data — to aggregate the statistics for each judge as well as each city and state.

Here is a link to the spreadsheet with data on all judges.

More on this story

Main story: Claimants see injustice in judge’s disability denials

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