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ADMINISTRATIVE LAW

is the body of law governing administrative agencies- -that is, those agencies created by Congress or state legislatures, such as the Social Security Administration, state Unemployment Insurance Boards, state Welfare Commissions and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The authority these agencies possess is delegated to them by the bodies which created them; the Social Security Administration's power comes from Congress.

Administrative agencies administer law through the creation and enforcement of regulations; most of these regulations pertain to providing some type of benefit to applicants. Frequently, an applicant objects to an agency's decision to deny, limit or terminate the benefits provided and seeks to have the decision reviewed. This review is called an administrative hearing and is held before an administrative law judge (A.L.J.).

Administrative hearings are informal, yet very important. Usually, the A.L.J. meets with representatives from the agency and the applicant seeking benefits. The applicant may choose to be or not be represented by an attorney and in fact, many administrative agencies permit paralegals, law students or law clerks to appear on behalf of applicants. Each side presents its evidence and elicits testimony from its witnesses. The hearing is often tape recorded, as opposed to taken down by a court reporter. The A.L.J. renders a decision called an administrative order, which may be reviewed by either a higher level within the agency or by a court.

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