Madison, Wisconsin ODAR Office

At the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) in Madison, Wisconsin, 5 different administrative law judges (ALJ) conduct Social Security Disability (SSD) hearings and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) hearings. Currently, in Madison, the average wait time for a SSI or SSD hearing is 16.0 months. The average case processing time in Madison is 539 days.The Madison average for winning a SSI or SSD disibility hearing is 63%. Click on the name of one of the ALJs below to see detailed information about their hearing results. This information for the Madison ODAR office was last updated on 6/11/2019.

Average statistics
OfficeJudgesAvg. Hearing
Wait Time
Processing Time
Per Day Per ALJ
Madison 5 16.0 months 539 days 2.5 16% 63% 21%
Wisconsin14.3 months522 days2.316%43%41%
National Average:14.9 months500 days2.120%42%38%
Full NameDismissedApprovedDenied

LATEST COMMENTS         to leave your own comment, select a judge from the list above and leave a comment on that judge's page
Judge: Joseph D Jacobson
2/12/2020 5:45:27 AM

This judge was very kind.

Callie Schraft
Judge: William Spalo
9/30/2019 2:33:53 PM

I think William Spalo was a wonderful, fair and sweet honest judge. He listens to both sides carefully, he actually let me talk freely, somewhat, but that's way more than any other judges. He was so sweet about my legs and my blood clots he actually got off the stand and helped me put my legs up! He was a great judge! He gets back to you with a decision within 30 to 40 days. He got back to me before 30 days. He was great. My other judge was so different! She didn't let me say anything, constantly said my doctors were of no credibility which only hers were. She also took months to give me a decision! This judge listened to both doctors. Very refreshing and very friendly and makes you feel at ease considering most of us have been through so much already. I honestly think he is great. Winning or not, I would say the exact same thing, no matter my outcome. I couldn't have asked for a better judge. He really seems to care a lot about people. I wish I could thank him for being so great! He is wonderful at his job.

K. Greinke
Judge: Brent C Bedwell
4/19/2019 12:14:46 PM

3/19/19 was my hearing for ssi and ssdi, I was awarded full benefits before I left the room. All I did was tell the truth and let my medical records speak for me.Judge Bedwell is very understanding of his job and seems to be a down to earth person.

T. Virgin
Judge: Patricia Kendall
1/4/2019 4:00:03 PM

I disagree with the above post. I went into my hearing a little under-prepared and Judge Kendall assisted me in re-requesting additional medical records and rescheduled my hearing in order for me to make sure my file was complete, accurate and contained all pertinent information in order for SSA to make a decision regarding my disability claim. I have yet to hear whether I am approved but I truly feel that Judge Kendall was kind and clear and concise in her questions, in her answers to my questions and in her follow-up questions. Although she was firm & no-nonsense- like, I feel that she takes her responsibility seriously and really does put in the time to review and understand the cases before her. She won't be your best friend, but she will give you all the time and respect to plead your case and hear you out thoroughly.

Kevin White
Judge: John H Pleuss
10/27/2018 11:46:36 AM

I fought for my benefits from 2009 to 2017, and it took that long to process past Judge Pleuss. (denied 3 times!) Only got a new judge as Pleuss was 'let go' or "forced into retirement" ... either way, as soon as he moved along, I was approved. Thank goodness the judges with a hidden agenda are gone or on notice, and facts will be heard now.

Antoinette M Weller
Judge: Joseph D Jacobson
9/1/2018 8:26:12 PM

My family and I are on the verge of homelessness. And it has been 1 month since my in person hearing no jobs hypothetically or otherwise were found for me. The judge sounded very compassionate about my situation. I truly hope the paperwork moves along so my child can have some stability in her life.

Judge: John Martin
7/28/2018 12:22:11 PM

John Martin is supportive fair and applies the law

Judge: Robert L Bartelt
3/12/2018 8:08:49 AM

This judge I believe should not be a judge He needs his head examined. I had a disability case pending for 7 years. He gave me a unfavorable decision. He blatanly ignored 5,000 pages of medical records. Just ignored every one of them. Then he had the nerve to put something in my paper about my spouse and I having intercourse. WHAT a ****. Who does that. He's a *******. I filed an appeal at the federal level and got it reversed. So dont give up. HE'S a *****. fight for your disability. he should be sued. ***** with a capital L I would give him a minus 10 if I could

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
11/16/2017 4:40:11 PM

This judge denied that I had stenosis. I have medical records that prove that I do have it. Completely ignored that I have 3 herniated discs in my neck along with stenosis, as well as stenosis of my spine. Facts were completely ignored. According to him I can be retrained to enter the workforce despite my age being 62 and I wear a back brace and walk with a cane. I am sure a prospective employer would really take me seriously. Sure. Absolutely disgraceful.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
9/28/2017 6:28:36 AM

He doesn't approve cases that are very strong. I've done hundreds and hundreds of cases and the case I had before him was very obvious and well deserving. Client had been in a diabetic coma and was sent to a nursing home afterwards and received home health aide services. But the ALJ argued he could do very physically hard work still! It just doesnt make sense and seems it will be an appeal. If only we had a different ALJ my client would of been approved. I'm sorry but there's no way only 17% of the cases he sees deserve benefits and the other 83% don't. It's pretty ridiculous! Also there's other ways to get approved for SSDI/SSI than meeting the listing, he doesn't seem to really accept that! Like having a combination of multiple impairments that equal listing level or not being able to do sedentary work. Another, fair ALJ would of approved my client on either one of those factors.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
9/5/2017 8:24:09 AM

I think it's wonderful that Judge Sanzi and his staff care enough about the comments to write their own and post them. Thought the one from the lawyer who thinks it was cool to deny his client was a little far-fetched (and poorly written), but kudos to the staff for imagining this is how we might feel about out clients. Again, a 16% approval rate (two standard deviations below the average) speaks volumes to his approach and "fairness."

Judge: Thomas W Springer
7/31/2017 4:27:06 PM

This judge Springer is corrupt to the core!! He is a liar, and a rotten person. He's not worthy of being a judge!! He is a fraud and he should be convicted to the fullest extent of the law.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
7/6/2017 5:33:10 PM

He comes off sort of eccentric and rather unprofessional for a Judge. It doesn't seem like he is paying attention to your testimony at all. Also I dont get the impression he read my medical records either. I think he just wants to deny people and doesn't care about much otherwise. Also if you have him for a video hearing he leaves the screen multiple times, it's really strange.

Judge: Patricia Kendall
6/22/2017 2:11:56 PM

I had this judge before. All that I will say is I hope God softens her heart. I felt like trash at my hearing. This Judge made me feel like a criminal. Not everyone that tries to get SSD or SSI deserve it but many of us do. Many of us suffer with illnesses you could never grasp unless you are in our shoes. Judges rule according to law but we don't deserve to be treated as garbage. I feel she judged my case before I ever spoke a word. I felt like a science project a specimen. Maybe she's tired of her job and has become heartless who knows. But God can soften any cold heart. It may be too late for me I lost. but there is someone out there that her ruling can change their life. If she is fair. I pray for this judge that she understands that people can have illnesses for many years over 10 15 20. I pray God Works on this judges heart and compassion. I never experienced mfeeling less than human until my hearing, feeling worthless, and reduced to nothing by this judge. This was by far one of the top worst experiences of my life.

Judge: William Spalo
5/31/2017 1:40:02 PM

I read the comment above about trickery. I certainly agree. He is very unfair and he makes It to where your own attorney thinks it's going good, when in fact it's not. If the V.E thinks there's jobs for you then you'll lose your case. Period!! Even if you can't preform it with your limitations. William Spalo, doesn't even take your own Doctors opinion into consideration, if they believe your disabled. He will pick apart their opinion and medical evidence. He will also twist your words around. Also, make sure when they send you to their Doctors that they document your limitations. If they agree your disabled, It must be in writing why? They may not even help your case. It seems to me that he does his job anyway he can to deny your claim. Hopefully, my friends attorney appeals his ruling. In his ruling they're so many discrepancy. I can't believe he's still a judge.

Judge: Debra Meachum
4/4/2017 6:29:26 PM

I had the privilege of going before the Honorable Judge Debra Meachum for my disability hearing. My comments are based solely on my interactions with her. I found Judge Meachum to be very kind. She is extremely observant and forth coming with her observations. She has a calming demeanor, and is very attentative when speaking to you. Judge Meachum made my process pleasant and non threatening. The process can be very nerve wracking in itself, but if you go in to state just your facts with no expectations, you will do fine.

Rebecca May
Judge: Michael Schaefer
1/18/2017 1:28:48 PM

After an hour and 45 minute hearing I felt the judge was pushing to deny my disability! The judge appointed jobs person answered the judges questions and came to the conclusion I was unable to work! If unable to work how is a person suppose to survive??? The judge made a decision on the review of 2 doctor reports that never even seen me they had just read the (I say false) report of the one they sent me to!!! Which I seen again July 2016 and he said to me only good thing was my heart, whether or not he put that in my report or not, if not I don't feel it should be valid to use at my next hearing! I first applied Oct 2011 now here it is Jan 2017 still waiting on second hearing and on the verge of homeless!

Judge: John H Pleuss
12/20/2016 7:15:45 PM

This is what a SSI attorney told me, that Wisconsin fired there SS judges because they were not looking at all the medical evidence per case and denying a lot of them just to save the state of Wisconsin money and so the state would get good ratings. So now there is a average of 18 month waits to get a hearing because of the state judges available and are now using Illinois judges on the closed circuit TV.

Cory S.
Judge: Michael Schaefer
12/13/2016 7:10:24 PM

Judge Schaefer is an awesome man, takes in all the information in all fairness. It didn't take him long to do my paperwork and get me a decision. If I had to do this all again and had a chance to choose my judge I'd go through it with him.

Judge: William Spalo
8/26/2016 12:58:58 PM

I have not received my judgement yet but Judge Spalo and his assistants had the room at ease.. He asked questions and got an understanding of my serious condition... In which I pray is justified.. My lawyer and I have an understanding and I feel the truth Will set me free...

Judge: Virginia Kuhn
8/23/2016 10:35:10 PM

Malicious evil bitch. Wonder what online outfit gave her her "degree"

Judge: Michael Schaefer
5/5/2016 1:49:51 PM

My experience is that Judge Schaefer was setting up the case for the claimant to fail. He was a former prosecutor and it felt like my client was gently being cross examined and led into negative statements which exaggerated what he could do, and which led to what I believe was an improper denial.

Peggy Johnson
Judge: John Martin
2/28/2016 9:29:58 AM

I do not yet know the results of my hearing but I loved judge Martin.He was fantastic, and took the edge off the hearing right from the start. Thank you 🌝

Judge: Virginia Kuhn
2/23/2016 2:48:08 PM

Judge: William Spalo
1/9/2016 3:50:11 PM

very good judge to me.

Judge: Thomas W Springer
10/24/2015 6:19:26 AM

He got most if not all the facts of my fiancés case wrong. Simple things like whether or not she has glasses, and she was wearing them. He said she doesn't have a car, yet she does. He deserves no accolades.

Michael morgan
Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
6/16/2015 5:50:04 PM

I wonder how long it takes to get a decision back because I've been waiting for over a month and haven't got a letter or anything back can anybody give me a ballpark and how long it takes thank you . because I just told the judge I really didn't care about the disability check with a bag but check all I really needed was insurance because my health is in bad shape.

Judge: William Spalo
12/21/2014 1:38:01 AM

I pray anyone who gets this judge reads this. This Judge asked the VE in my husband's case one hypothetical question about having to elevate his feet. The VE said there were no jobs. This caused the lawyer to not cross examine. Well the judge denied his claim saying he didn't believe he was being truthful about the intensity or persistence of his pain and need to elevate his feet. So no other limitations were addressed such as missed work due to his pain condition etc. Three years we've been going through hardships and our shot in court was stolen from us because the judge used trickery and the lawyer fell for it. This judge is here to deny claims and he's good at it! Our family is broken. Be aware and make sure your lawyer is aware

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
10/22/2014 11:16:16 AM

Follow-up comment now that I've received Judge Sanzi's decision on my claimant's case: Decision is well-written, concise, clear so that most claimant's could understand it. In spite of the fact the my claimant hid his/her return to work after the initial onset date, Judge Sanzi still gave him/her the benefit of the doubt. But based on his/her age, a sedentary rating equaled a finding of "not disabled." Not the decision I wanted for my claimant, but a well-reasoned and appropriate one. Will probably never appear before him again, but still believe he was fair, respectful, professional.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
10/14/2014 8:40:29 AM


Judge: William Spalo
8/18/2014 7:57:37 AM

What can I say ,17 thing wrong with me,and this ALJ set and lied any way he could to stop me from getting SSDI,have worked 33 years at back braking jobs,and when no one will hire you because of the bad shape you are in Very sad that this is how we the people are treated this ALJ needs to step down and retire

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
8/7/2014 7:14:23 PM

I would be happy to appear before ALJ Sanzi any time. He conducts a logically organized, fair hearing. He treats both the claimant and the representative respectfully, ensures the claimant understands what is happening, encourages the the claimant to ask questions if he does not understand something. He gives no indication of having pre-judged the case or of just "going through the motions." He asks reasonable hypotheticals and doesn't go over the top with endless restrictions. He may rule against my claimant (after working with him and his "inaccurate" answers to my questions about work after onset, an unfavorable decision might even be appropriate), but he conducted a fair and impartial hearing. Just because an ALJ doesn't have a high allowance rate doesn't make him a bad judge or an evil person. Get a grip. If he makes his decisions the way he conducts his hearings, then he will make reasoned determinations that he will support with his findings from the file and the testimony. And he may, therefore, deny claims. He's doing his job.

N. W
Judge: Joseph D Jacobson
6/11/2014 12:47:08 AM

Hi, I have not received my decision yet and I don't want to say my name but this man seems very compassionate and he was so polite. My decision is currently being wrote and I pray it's correct because we are in ruff shape. I trust he sees my/the truth. This judge seems awesome! :-)

Judge: Thomas W Springer
9/23/2013 1:04:53 PM

Very fair man. Open minded to hearing all the facts before ruling.

Sandra Sandmeyer
Judge: Christopher Messina
8/13/2013 12:19:44 PM

I found ALJ Messina to be very thorough and he considered all of the facts in my younger claimant's case. He dictated the decision right there in the courtroom and it was in my mailbox the next day. That's pretty awesome service!

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
4/11/2013 8:43:52 PM

Judge Sanzi clearly enjoys writing about himself on here. I have represented clients for 17 years before countless ALJ's. This man is utterly disgusting to appear before. He clearly has his mind made up before the hearing. He is in the top 3 worst judges I have appeared before. Sure not everyone deserves benefits but his approval rating is so unfair. People pay in but if you become disabled and have to appear before this moron you might as well forget getting your money out of the system. This judges record is going to ultimately cost him his job. Judge Sanzi shame on you, you should think of all the lives your ruining and start having some morals. FIND GOD, YES THERE IS A POWER GREATER THAN YOU, BEG FOR FORGIVENESS.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
4/3/2013 7:50:25 AM

Judge Sanzi is dedicated to fairly applying the law to the facts of the case before him. That may not always result in an award of benefits, but he's just doing his job. He treats the claimants with respect.

Judge: Debra Meachum
3/24/2013 1:11:01 PM


Judge: Debra Meachum
3/24/2013 11:11:59 AM


Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
3/1/2013 8:58:25 AM

Always tries to make the right decision in each case, carefully applying the law as it is written, not as some reps might want it to be. Can't ask for more from a judge.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
2/26/2013 12:16:22 PM


Critic's corner
Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
2/22/2013 6:09:03 PM

Smart, fair, hardworking.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
2/22/2013 6:06:30 PM

Judge Sanzi clearly makes himself familiar with the claim files. He puts a lot of thought into his decisions. If a claim is not meritorious, it won't be paid. That's just doing the job the right way.

Judge: Thomas J Sanzi
2/2/2013 3:03:53 PM

Impossible to win a case in front of this man. 10% approval rating and 70% denial - how is this fair and just? He doesn't even deserve one star.

Judge: Christopher Messina
1/7/2013 8:38:29 PM

He sounds like a fair Judge. I hope I'll get him on my case.

Judge: Arthur J Schneider
10/20/2012 2:51:09 AM

Will deny most claims as evident by his record. Negative ALJ and bias.

Judge: Brent C Bedwell
9/25/2012 6:10:19 PM

He is fair and just.

Judge: Christopher Messina
8/25/2012 12:01:56 PM

I am an attorney, and I must say that this ALJ is incompetent. He took more than 90 days to finally make a decision on my case, and did not want to approve the fee agreement without giving any reason for it. He then asked me to write a fee petition which he did not want to approve. He further stated that I was only going to get one payment that would cover claimant and all of her dependents, which is against Social Security standards. An attorney gets pay for each separate claim, his client and the auxiliaries (dependents). I had to appeal his decision on this matter to the Chief Regional, and won. I finally got all the attorney fees that were due. This case was seen in January and I finally got paid in August. He needs to be instructed on Social Security guidelines.

Alex Tice
Judge: Ira S Epstein
5/17/2012 5:51:57 PM

Wonderful Judge!!! Thank you

Judge: Christopher Messina
5/14/2012 7:44:22 AM

Judge Messina, I must say seemed to be very attentive and compassionate towards myself and my disability case. He listened and made me feel very comfortable and at ease even though I was extremely nervous! My attorney on the other hand, my God was he awful, but I have to give all the Glory and Honor to God for placing me in the hands of Judge Messina, may God bless you sir!