The division is headed by a division director who serves as the chief administrative law judge and is appointed by the Administration Commission (Governor and Cabinet) and confirmed by the Florida Senate. The division is administratively housed in the Department of Management Services, but is not subject to the control, supervision, or direction of the department. The division's headquarters are in Tallahassee.
The division administers two programs: the Adjudication of Disputes program and the Workers' Compensation Claims Court.
The Adjudication of Disputes program employs 65 positions as of June 30, 2021. These include the chief judge, the executive director/deputy chief judge, and 31 administrative law judges, with one legal assistant assigned to three judges. These judges oversee the hearing and resolution of challenges to state agency rules, proceedings in which the substantial interests of a party are determined by a state agency and hearing involving disputed issues of material fact between private citizens and state entities and private organizations and state entities.
The Workers' Compensation Claims Court employs 175 positions. Judges mediate and adjudicate disputed workers' compensation benefits.
An administrative proceeding is initiated when an agency action or inaction adversely affects a private party's substantial interests. The agency is almost always a party to the proceedings. Cases often come to administrative law judges after an administrative hearing before agency staff or an agency head.
Cases come to judges of compensation claims after parties are unable to reach agreement on outstanding issues and one party files a petition for benefits. The law provides for mandatory mediation within 130 days of filing such a petition.
Administrative law judges conduct hearings as authorized by Ch. 120, Florida Statutes. Cases are brought
to challenge an agency rule as an invalid delegation of legislative authority; or
to resolve disputes between an agency and a person whose substantial interests will be affected by an agency decision (other than a rule).
Division cases encompass a variety of issues, and involve multiple state agencies. The division conducts other hearings as set out in law, such as cases brought under the Baker Act (involuntary commitment to a mental institution). Judges of compensation claims hear disputes brought under the many varied provisions of the state's workers' compensation law, Ch. 440, Florida Statutes.
During Fiscal Year 2020-21, state agencies and other governmental entities referred 4,987 requests for assignment of an administrative law judge, compared to 6,316 requires filed the previous year. This is a 21% decrease from the previous fiscal year.
Of these cases, 1,555 were Baker Act cases. During Fiscal Year 2020-21 each administrative law judge conducted an average of 181 hearings, writing an average of 77 recommended or final orders. Each administrative judge closed an average of 75 cases (excluding Baker Act cases and DOR child support cases).
The Division is 100% trust funded. Some state entities must pay filing fees or other fees to utilize the division's hearing services. These funds are derived from assessments paid by insurance carriers writing workers' compensation insurance and self-insurers into the Workers' Compensation Administration Trust Fund. The assessment may not exceed 2.75% of net premiums collected. The assessment rate for calendar year 2022 is 0.79%.
Division of Administrative Hearings, annual reports