I-2-3-20.Acknowledgment of Notice of Hearing
Last Update: 2/23/21 (Transmittal I-2-240)
A. Acknowledgment Form
With each notice of hearing, Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) management, through designated staff, will send a form HA-504, Acknowledgment of Receipt (Notice of Hearing), or the Spanish version, HA-504-SP, to the claimant and representative, if any.
B. Acknowledgment Form Not Returned
If OHO mailed a notice of hearing at least 75 days before the date set for the hearing, but does not receive the acknowledgment form at least 30 days before the hearing, staff will attempt to contact the claimant or appointed representative, if any, for an explanation. Similarly, if OHO mailed an amended notice of hearing or notice of supplemental hearing at least 20 days before the hearing date, but does not receive the acknowledgment form at least 10 days before the hearing, staff will attempt to contact the claimant or appointed representative, if any, for an explanation. See 20 CFR 404.938(c) and 416.1438(c).
OHO staff will attempt to contact the claimant or representative, if any, either by sending a written Reminder to Return Acknowledgment Form, or by telephone, asking for an explanation and whether he or she plans to attend the hearing. See 20 CFR 404.938(c) and 416.1438(c). To generate the Reminder to Return Acknowledgement Form, OHO staff will access the template in the Document Generation System (DGS) by selecting “Notices” and “Notice of Hearing Reminder.” OHO staff will add a copy of the written reminder to the claim(s) file.
An attempted telephone contact includes calling the claimant or the representative's telephone number(s) listed in the file at least twice. If there is no number in the file or the listed number(s) is inactive or has a continuous or fast busy signal, OHO staff will check for an updated phone number in the following systems:
Case Processing and Management System (CPMS);
Personal Communications (PCOM) system;
Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) application (for updated representative contact information); and
Query Check (QCHECK) (which includes Modernized Development Worksheet (MDW), Full Master Beneficiary Record (FACT), Supplemental Security Income Display (SSID), and Customer Service Record (CSR)).
If there is a different number, OHO staff will re-attempt contact with the claimant or representative, if any. If there is no telephone number on record and the claimant is unrepresented, OHO staff will send the claimant the written Reminder to Return Acknowledgment Form.
If OHO staff leaves a message with an answering machine, voice mail service, or someone other than the claimant, OHO staff will make one more attempt to contact the claimant. When leaving messages, OHO staff will follow the procedures in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Pre-Hearing Initial Contact (PHIC) Desk Guide, referenced in Standard Hearings Operations Procedure (SHOP) 1.4.10, and leave the following message, asking the claimant to call back the staff member:
“This is [OHO EMPLOYEE NAME] from the Social Security Administration, calling for [CLAIMANT'S NAME]. Please have [CLAIMANT] return my call at [PHONE NUMBER].”
If OHO staff attempts to contact the claimant or representative by telephone at any time prior to the date set for the hearing, staff must document the attempted contact on a form SSA-5002, Report of Contact. The form SSA-5002 should include information on whether staff made contact with an individual and, if so, the identity of the person with whom staff spoke and the date and content of the conversation. OHO staff will associate the form SSA-5002 with the claim(s) file.
1. Claimant or Representative Received the Notice of Hearing
If a claimant or appointed representative, if any, verbally informs OHO staff that he or she received the notice of hearing and that neither the claimant nor the representative, if any, plans to attend the scheduled hearing, OHO staff will document the conversation on form SSA-5002, associate it with the file, and ask him or her to return the HA-504 confirming the intent not to appear at the scheduled hearing.
A notice is “received” if either the claimant or the representative receives it.
If the claimant or representative received the notice of hearing and does not plan to attend the scheduled hearing but verbally asks to attend a hearing at another time or place, OHO staff will notify him or her that staff must receive the request in writing, pursuant to Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-3-12. OHO staff will memorialize the conversation on form SSA-5002 and associate it with the claim(s) file. The administrative law judge (ALJ) must consider whether there is good cause to change the time or place of the hearing, pursuant to HALLEX I-2-3-12 C.
If the ALJ finds good cause, OHO management, through designated staff, will reschedule the hearing, and OHO staff will send an amended notice of hearing and Form HA-504. OHO staff must send the amended notice at least 20 days before the date of the new hearing. OHO management, through designated staff, will select the date for the new hearing, which must be at least 75 days after the date the agency first sent the claimant a notice of hearing under HALLEX I-2-3-15, unless the claimant has waived his or her right to advance notice. For more information about when the claimant waives his or her right to advance notice, see HALLEX I-2-3-25. OHO staff may access the appropriate documents in DGS by selecting “Correspondence,” then “Pre Hearing” and “PH-36G-Good Cause Found” or “PH37G - Postponement.”
If the ALJ does not find good cause to change the time or place of the hearing, OHO staff will notify the claimant and representative, if any, that the ALJ will hold the hearing as scheduled, and that failure to attend, without good reason, may result in a dismissal. In the notice, OHO staff must state the reason(s) the ALJ provided for not finding good cause and associate the notice with the claim(s) file. If neither the claimant nor the representative, if any, appears at the time and place set for the hearing, see the instructions in HALLEX manual I-2-4-25.
2. Claimant or Representative, if any, Did Not Receive the Notice of Hearing
If the claimant or the representative, if any, states that he or she did not receive the notice of hearing, staff will read the following Privacy Act statement to the claimant or representative:
Sections 205 and 1631 of the Social Security Act allow us to collect the information you provide, which will be used to show that you agreed to appear at your hearing with an administrative law judge. Providing us this information is voluntary. However, failing to provide all or part of the information may prevent an accurate and timely decision on your claim. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to contractors, authorized representatives or payees, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notices 60-0005, 60-0089, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs.
OHO staff will verify the claimant and/or representative's address and send a new notice of hearing, which includes the Privacy Act statement, by certified mail with return receipt requested at least 75 days before the hearing. Even if the claimant waives his or her right to advance notice of hearing, OHO staff will send the notice of hearing so that the claimant receives the Privacy Act statement. OHO staff will send any subsequent correspondence in the same manner and retain the return receipt(s) in the claim(s) file.