I-2-1-86.Formal Requests for Clarification - Procedures

Last Update: 7/29/22 (Transmittal I-2-247)

See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-1-85 for an explanation of when a formal request for clarification is appropriate.

A. Communicating With the Appeals Council (AC)

An administrative law judge (ALJ), or designated hearing office (HO) staff, who wants to request formal clarification of an AC remand order must communicate with the AC only as set forth below. HO staff and ALJs may not directly contact AC adjudicators regarding specific cases, regardless of whether the case is pending at the AC or at the HO.

NOTE:

As used herein, HO staff and ALJs include staff and ALJs in a National Hearing Center.

B. Procedures

As set forth in this subsection, there are two required steps to obtain formal clarification from the AC:

  • First, an ALJ must obtain approval from HO management to request clarification (see B.1. below); and

  • Second, if HO management approves, the ALJ must submit the request to the AC and obtain a response from the AC before acting on the hearing level case (see B.2. below).

1. Obtaining HO Management Approval

To obtain HO management approval to request clarification of an AC remand order, the ALJ or designated HO staff must request, in writing via email, concurrence from the Regional Chief Administrative Law Judge (RCALJ) that a clarification request is appropriate (i.e., meets the criteria for clarification). The ALJ must request concurrence as soon as possible after receiving the AC remand order and the claim file(s).

If the RCALJ does not agree that the request meets the criteria for clarification, the RCALJ will inform the ALJ of the decision in writing (via email) as soon as possible so the ALJ can proceed with the hearing. If the RCALJ approves the clarification request, the RCALJ, or regional office (RO) staff designated by the RCALJ, will request approval, in writing, from the Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ) as soon as possible. The RCALJ will submit the request to the Director of the Division of Field Procedures (DFP) in the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (OCALJ) in writing via email at |||OHO OCALJ DFP, and DFP will make a recommendation to the CALJ.

The CALJ will approve or disapprove the clarification request and OCALJ will inform the RCALJ or designee of the decision in writing via email as soon as possible. After OCALJ informs the RCALJ or designee of the decision, the RCALJ or designee will inform the ALJ of the decision in writing by email.

2. Submitting the Request and Obtaining a Response from the AC

If the ALJ receives approval from the CALJ, the ALJ or designated HO staff will:

  • Notify the claimant and representative, if any, of the clarification request through written correspondence using the Document Generation System (DGS) or Hearing and Case Processing System (HACPS) letter template, as appropriate, stating:

    "Pursuant to HALLEX I-1-2-86, we are writing to inform you that the Administrative Law Judge has submitted a formal request for clarification of the Remand Order issued by the Appeals Council on [DATE].

    Pursuant to HALLEX I-3-9-95, if the Appeals Council determines clarification is appropriate, the Appeals Council will mail you a copy of the order vacating its prior remand order. If the Appeals Council denies the request for clarification, the Appeals Council will send you a copy of the memorandum denying the request for clarification."

  • Place a copy of the written correspondence in the B section of the paper claim(s) file or upload the notification to the B section of the electronic claim(s) file before sending the request to the AC. If the claim(s) file does not include this notification, the AC will usually deny the request for clarification.

  • Prepare a written request to the AC that includes the claimant's full name, Social Security number (SSN), and the following statement at the beginning of the clarification request, “The Chief Administrative Law Judge has approved this request for clarification of an Appeals Council remand order.”

  • Send the approved clarification request to the AC via email at ^DCARO OAO, with the subject line “Formal Request for Clarification – [claimant's last name]”. The sender will not include the claimant's SSN in the subject line. The email must include any prior emails from the RO staff, RCALJ, and OCALJ.

NOTE:

In paper cases, the email should clearly state the case is paper. An email response from the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) is required before HO staff can mail a paper file to the AC. If the AC requests the paper file, HO staff will attach a copy of the AC's email to the front of the paper file and mail the file to:

Executive Director, Appeals Council
Office of Appellate Operations
Attn: Formal Request for Clarification
5107 Leesburg Pike, Suite 1400
Falls Church, VA 22041-3255

DO NOT OPEN IN MAILROOM

The AC will respond to the ALJ in writing as soon as possible. The AC may respond via email to the ALJ, RCALJ, and OCALJ. However, the AC will send paper copies of a response via regular mail to the claimant and representative.

3. Follow Up

If the HO has not received a response to the clarification request within 30 days, HO staff may send a follow-up email to ^DCARO OAO, with “Second Request” added to the subject line. HO staff will not include the claimant's SSN in the subject line.