I-3-0-71.Requesting Paper Claim(s) File
Last Update: 6/9/14 (Transmittal I-3-66)
A. Locating the Claim(s) File
Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) staff will request a paper claim(s) file upon receipt of a request for review where the official claim(s) file is paper. OAO staff will also obtain a paper claim(s) file when it is needed to respond to a request for copies of material (see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-3-0-84) or an extension of time request (see HALLEX I-3-9-60).
To locate a paper claim(s) file, OAO staff will first confirm the location of the claim(s) file by checking the Automated Folder Location Website (or other equivalent PCOM queries). To use the site, the user must be logged into Session A in the PCOM system.
B. Claim(s) File Located in the Mega-site
If the claim(s) file is located at the Mega-site, OAO staff will request the claim(s) file by using the Megasite Information Management System (MIMS). OAO staff must request paper cases designated critical as soon as possible. See HALLEX I-3-1-51 for critical case procedures.
C. Claim(s) File Not Located in the Mega-site
1. Request the Claim(s) File
OAO staff will contact and request the claim(s) file from the component holding the folder.
When the claim(s) file is in a hearing office, OAO staff will request the file by sending an email with the subject line “Request for Paper File” to the general email box of the hearing office with jurisdiction. To find a hearing office's general email address, type |ODAR R[region number] into the global address book and locate the appropriate hearing office. For example, to locate the Boston hearing office email address, type in |ODAR R1 in the global address book and locate the Boston hearing office. Alternatively, the addresses can be found at http://odar.ba.ssa.gov/hq-components/ocalj/field-staff-listings/.
If a case is designated critical, OAO staff will include this information in the email and request that the claim(s) file be forwarded within 10 days.
As National Hearing Centers (NHC) process electronic claims only, it should be unnecessary to contact an NHC for a missing paper claim(s) file. However, in the rare circumstance an NHC needs to be contacted to locate a missing paper claim(s) file, the general email address is |||ODAR OCALJ NHC [name of NHC location].
2. Documenting the Request
After sending the email, OAO staff will add an unhidden Remark in the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) that indicates the date OAO requested the file. OAO staff will also diary the case for 30 days (or 10 days for critical cases).
Adding a remark in ARPS is very important so that the Appeals Council can evaluate what actions OAO staff took to obtain the file before it determines whether a remand for a missing claim(s) file is appropriate.
3. Follow Up Procedures
If OAO has not received the file after 30 days (or 10 days for critical cases), OAO staff will document ARPS and notify the branch chief (usually via email) that the claim(s) file was not received. The branch chief will then complete the Claims File Search Checklist in HALLEX I-3-0-96 by ensuring that all relevant follow-ups are completed and annotated on the checklist.
If the branch chief is unable to obtain the file after taking all necessary actions, he or she will certify that the claim(s) file is lost by signing the form and associate the completed checklist in the private section of the file for review by the Appeals Council.
The Appeals Council must remand a case if the claim(s) file cannot be located, but adjudicators will carefully evaluate whether appropriate measures were taken to obtain a claim(s) file before doing so. Generally, the Appeals Council will not remand a case if the checklist is missing or incomplete. Remanding a claim without due diligence in attempting to obtain the claim(s) file causes unnecessary delay for the claimant and an unnecessary workload for OAO in processing second actions and motions for clarification under HALLEX I-2-1-85 and I-3-7-50.