I-3-1-6.Review of ALJ Recommended Decisions

Last Update: 9/08/05 (Transmittal I-3-36)

The conditions under which an ALJ must issue a recommended decision are described in I-2-8-15. In addition, an ALJ may issue a recommended decision at his or her discretion.

The format and content of a recommended decision are the same as a final decision except that:

  • the word “RECOMMENDED” is added to the heading of the decision; and

  • the decisional paragraph identifies the decision as a recommended decision only and states that the Appeals Council will take final action.

The notice which transmits the recommended decision advises the claimant that he or she has 20 days from the date of receiving the decision to file briefs, exceptions or other written statements as to the applicable facts and law.

Recommended decisions in both court and non-court cases will be flagged by the hearing office. Upon receipt, the OAO branch staff will screen the cases for recommended partially and fully favorable decisions to ensure expeditious processing.

The Appeals Council will review the recommended decision and issue the final decision of the Commissioner unless the Council remands the case to an ALJ for further proceedings or dismisses the request for hearing, in a non-court case, where appropriate.

In a non-court case, the Appeals Council may dismiss the request for hearing for any reason the ALJ could have dismissed it. (See I-3-4-20, Appeals Council Dismissal of Request for Hearing.) The evidentiary standard applied by the Appeals Council in deciding whether to adopt a recommended decision is the “Weight of the Evidence” test. (See I-3-3-4 B., Weight of the Evidence.)

See I-3-8 for a complete discussion of Appeals Council decisions.