Some news came out yesterday about the Benefits Review Board, the Department of Labor’s appellate body that reviews ALJs’ decisions in black lung benefits cases.
Secretary of Labor Tom Perez named Betty Jean Hall as the Chairman and Chief Administrative Appeals Judge of the Board. Chief Judge Hall had been the Acting Chair & Chief since May 2014 and previously served as Chairman and Chief Judge from 1994 to 2001.
It’s not clear exactly what the distinction between Acting and “Permanent” Chair functionally means. As Chief Judge Hall’s background shows, the Board Member serving as Chair is at the Secretary’s discretion and not truly a permanent position. The announcement though makes Chief Judge Hall’s position sound more stable and should improve her ability to advocate for and make institutional reforms at the Board.
Chief Judge Hall’s bio from the Benefits Review Board’s website reads as follows:
Judge Betty Jean Hall was initially appointed to the Board in December 1994 as the Chief Administrative Appeals Judge and Chairman and served in the capacity until December 2001., when she was appointed as a Member. Prior to her appointment Judge Hall had extensive experience in public interest law, including Executive Director and General Counsel of the Coal Employment Project. She earned a BA from Berea College ( Kentucky) and a JD degree from the Antioch School of Law.