I-2-3-20.Acknowledgment of Notice of Hearing
Last Update: 5/1/17 (Transmittal I-2-205)
A. Acknowledgment Form
With each notice of hearing, hearing office (HO) 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 the acknowledgment form is not returned within 7 days, send a written Reminder to Return Acknowledgment Form, or telephone the claimant or representative, if any, to ask whether he or she plans to attend the hearing. To generate the Reminder to Return Acknowledgement Form, HO staff will access the template in the Document Generation System (DGS) by selecting “Notices” and “Notice of Hearing Reminder.”
If HO staff intends to contact the claimant by telephone, HO staff must personally speak to the claimant or representative, if any, to satisfy the notification requirement. HO staff may contact the claimant by telephone at any time prior to the date set for the hearing. HO staff must also document the contact on a form SSA-5002, Report of Contact, and associate it with the claim(s) file to satisfy the notification requirement.
The notification requirement is not satisfied if the HO staff leaves a message on an answering machine or with anyone other than the claimant or representative. Further, an automated courtesy call before the hearing does not constitute notification because the claimant may not be the person who answers the phone call.
1. Claimant or Representative Received the Notice of Hearing
If a claimant or representative received the notice of hearing and notified the ALJ in writing that neither the claimant nor the appointed representative (if any) plans to attend the scheduled hearing, HO staff will ask him or her to return the HA-504 confirming the intent to appear.
If the claimant or representative received the notice of hearing and does not plan to attend the scheduled hearing, but would like to attend a hearing at another time, the administrative law judge (ALJ) must consider whether there is good cause to postpone the hearing.
If the ALJ finds good cause and postpones the hearing, HO staff will send a new Notice of Hearing and Form HA-504. HO staff must send the “new” notice at least 75 days before the date of the hearing, unless the claimant waives his or her right to 75-day notice. HO 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 postpone the hearing, HO staff will notify the claimant or representative that the hearing will be held as scheduled, and that failure to attend may result in a dismissal. In the notice, the ALJ must explain the reasons for not finding good cause, and associate the notice with the file. If the HO staff verbally communicates with the claimant or representative, if any, regarding the issue, HO staff must record the conversation on an SSA-5002 and associate it with the file. If neither the claimant nor the representative, if any, appear at the time and place set for the hearing, see the instructions in Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-4-25.
2. Claimant or Representative Did Not Receive the Notice of Hearing
If the claimant or representative states that he or she did not receive the notice of hearing, HO staff will verify the address and send a new notice by certified mail with return receipt requested. HO staff will send any subsequent correspondence in the same manner and retain the return receipt(s) in the claim(s) file.
A notice is “received” if either the claimant or the representative receives it.
If a claimant or representative does not receive a notice of hearing, and it is necessary to send a new notice, HO staff must send the “new” notice at least 75 days before the hearing, unless the claimant waives his or her right to 75-day notice. For more information when the claimant waives his or her right to 75-day notice, see HALLEX I-2-3-25.
The certified mail and return receipt procedure may also be appropriate where there is a high incidence of non-receipt of mail in a specific locality. However, the Regional Chief ALJ must approve this procedure in advance.