I-2-1-87.Expedited Requests for Clarification - Procedures

Last Update: 3/2/15 (Transmittal I-2-134)

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

A. Communicating with the Appeals Council (AC)

An administrative law judge (ALJ), or any assisting hearing office (HO) staff, who wants to request expedited 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

1. Ensure the File is Complete

For paper cases, the Hearing Office Director (HOD), Group Supervisor (GS), or other HO management official will determine that all exhibits are in the original file and are marked. When the recording of the hearing is located, the HOD, GS, or other HO management official must ensure the recording is completely audible.

In an electronic case, HO staff must ensure the digital recording of the hearing is uploaded to the electronic file and the recording is completely audible.

2. If Remanded from Court (For Incomplete File or Hearing Recording), Obtain Agreement from Attorney or Unrepresented Claimant

If the claim(s) was remanded by a Federal court due to an incomplete file or an inaudible or missing hearing recording, the HO must also obtain a written statement from the attorney who represented the claimant in Federal court, or from the claimant, if he or she was unrepresented (pro se) in court. This written statement will indicate that the attorney or claimant agrees that the AC remand may be vacated because the incomplete or lost file, or the inaudible or lost hearing recording, was found. A sample statement is included in subsection C below. If the attorney, or claimant appearing pro se, does not agree, the expedited clarification process cannot be used.

3. Request Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (OCALJ) Approval

Once steps 1 and 2 (if applicable) are complete, the HOD, GS, or other HO management official will submit the expedited clarification request to OCALJ via fax or email, addressed to the branch chief of the Field Practices Branch, Division of Field Procedures (DFP). Faxed requests are sent to (703) 605-8501, and email requests to ¦¦¦ODAR OCALJ DFP.

The request must include both:

  • A statement indicating it is an expedited request for clarification in which the sole issue on remand is a lost file, lost recording of the hearing, or both. In all cases, paper or electronic, the statement must certify the file is complete, the exhibits are marked, and the hearing recording is completely audible; and

  • A copy of the AC remand order.

4. Receipt of OCALJ's Response and Forwarding the Request to the AC

On receipt of an expedited request for clarification, OCALJ will evaluate the request to determine if it is appropriate for the expedited clarification process and will issue a memorandum via email to the HO, signed by the DFP branch chief, agreeing or disagreeing with the request.

If OCALJ agrees with the request and an electronic claim(s) file is involved, the HO will email a copy of the memorandum to the AC at ¦¦¦ODAR OAO, with subject line “Expedited Clarification – [claimant's last name].” The sender must not include the claimant's Social Security number (SSN) in the subject line.

If OCALJ agrees with the request and a paper claim(s) file is involved, the HO will send a copy of the memorandum and the claim(s) file to the AC at the following address:

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

DO NOT OPEN IN MAILROOM

If OCALJ disagrees with the request, OCALJ will notify the HO as soon as possible so the HO can proceed with the hearing.

5. Wait for Notification from the AC

In all cases, the HO must receive notification from the AC that the remand order is vacated before the HO can clear the remand from its docket. If it has been more than 30 days since the HO sent the request (and paper file, as applicable) to the AC, the HO may request a status update by sending an email request to ¦¦¦ODAR OAO, subject line “Follow Up - Expedited Clarification.” The sender must not include the claimant's SSN in the subject line.

A follow up email must include:

  • The claimant's name and SSN;

  • The date of the prior request or, in paper cases, the date the paper folder was sent to the Office of Appellate Operations;

  • A copy of the emailed OCALJ memorandum approving the request;

  • A request for status; and

  • The name of the HO contact person.

C. Sample Statement - Court Remands

COURT REMAND
STATEMENT BY REPRESENTATIVE OR CLAIMANT
AGREEING TO VACATION OF APPEALS COUNCIL REMAND ORDER

Date _______________________

Case Name:___________________________________

I am the attorney of record/claimant (circle one) in the above entitled civil action. An order of remand was entered because the claim file/hearing recording (circle one or both) could not be located and a certified administrative record could not be prepared. The claim file/hearing recording (circle one or both) was subsequently located.

I agree to the vacation of the Appeals Council's Order of Remand.

____________________________

Attorney or Claimant Signature

____________________________

Attorney or Claimant Name (Typed or printed)

_____________________________

Attorney or Claimant Address