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OBL Remembers Judge Emmanuel “Manny” Smith

Osterhout Berger Disability Law > Blog  > OBL Remembers Judge Emmanuel “Manny” Smith

OBL Remembers Judge Emmanuel “Manny” Smith


Judge Smith passed away on February 6, 2020.

The Osterhout Berger Disability office is saddened to hear of the passing of Judge Manny Smith, who had a long career with the Social Security Administration. According to his obituary, he graduated from the University of Texas, Phi Beta Kappa and Harvard Law School. He worked in Washington, DC beginning with the Interstate Commerce Commission and elected to work with the Social Security Administration in Maryland and Virginia as well. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1991 to be an administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration and retired with over forty-five years of service to the federal government. Karl Osterhout has a great amount of respect for the work that Judge Smith did behind the bench and shares his thoughts:


Judge Smith was one of the good guys, a real Mensch, someone who was a straight shooter, and who told you upfront what the problems were with your case, as he saw it. He also graciously agreed to attend my wedding (imagine that happening these days).

He ended up retiring in response to pressure to what was viewed as his supposedly “too high“ award rate (in a local newspaper article, and by the agency, who try to send him back for “retraining“). He is the only ALJ I’ve ever met in 35 years of doing this who spoke frequently about the actual burden of proof in Social Security cases, “preponderance of the evidence.“ This was clearly the guiding principle of his decision making, whether you agreed with him or not. We extend our condolences and best wishes to his family.