§ 416.557. Personal conference.

(a) If waiver cannot be approved ( i.e. , the requirements in § 416.550 (a) and (b) are not met), the individual is notified in writing and given the dates, times and place of the file review and personal conference; the procedure for reviewing the claims file prior to the personal conference; the procedure for seeking a change in the scheduled date, time and/or place; and all other information necessary to fully inform the individual about the personal conference. The file review is always scheduled at least 5 days before the personal conference. We will offer to the individual the option of conducting the personal conference face-to-face at a place we designate, by telephone, or by video teleconference. The notice will advise the individual of the date and time of the personal conference.

(b) At the file review, the individual and the individual's representative have the right to review the claims file and applicable law and regulations with the decisionmaker or another of our representatives who is prepared to answer questions. We will provide copies of material related to the overpayment and/or waiver from the claims file or pertinent sections of the law or regulations that are requested by the individual or the individual's representative.

(c) At the personal conference, the individual is given the opportunity to:

(1) Appear personally, testify, cross-examine any witnesses, and make arguments;

(2) Be represented by an attorney or other representative (see § 416.1500), although the individual must be present at the conference; and

(3) Submit documents for consideration by the decisionmaker.

(d) At the personal conference, the decisionmaker:

(1) Tells the individual that the decisionmaker was not previously involved in the issue under review, that the waiver decision is solely the decisionmaker's, and that the waiver decision is based only on the evidence or information presented or reviewed at the conference;

(2) Ascertains the role and identity of everyone present;

(3) Indicates whether or not the individual reviewed the claims file;

(4) Explains the provisions of law and regulations applicable to the issue;

(5) Briefly summarizes the evidence already in file which will be considered;

(6) Ascertains from the individual whether the information presented is correct and whether he/she fully understands it;

(7) Allows the individual and the individual's representative, if any, to present the individual's case;

(8) Secures updated financial information and verification, if necessary;

(9) Allows each witness to present information and allows the individual and the individual's representative to question each witness;

(10) Ascertains whether there is any further evidence to be presented;

(11) Reminds the individual of any evidence promised by the individual which has not been presented;

(12) Lets the individual and the individual's representative, if any, present any proposed summary or closing statement;

(13) Explains that a decision will be made and the individual will be notified in writing; and

(14) Explains repayment options and further appeal rights in the event the decision is adverse to the individual.

(e) SSA issues a written decision to the individual (and his or her representative, if any) specifying the findings of fact and conclusions in support of the decision to approve or deny waiver and advising of the individual's right to appeal the decision. If waiver is denied, adjustment or recovery of the overpayment begins even if the individual appeals.

(f) If it appears that the waiver cannot be approved, and the individual declines a personal conference or fails to appear for a second scheduled personal conference, a decision regarding the waiver will be made based on the written evidence of record. Reconsideration is the next step in the appeals process.

[73 FR 1973, Jan. 11, 2008]