I-3-0-1.General Description of the Office of Appellate Operations and Appeals Council

Last Update: 4/29/16 (Transmittal I-3-142)

A. The Office of Appellate Operations (OAO)

OAO consists of the Appeals Council (AC) and its support staff.

B. General Description of the AC

Under a direct delegation of authority from the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, the AC is the final level of administrative review for claims filed under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. For a general description of the AC's jurisdiction with respect to requests for review and own motion review, see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-3-0-10. The AC also handles quality assurance reviews (HALLEX I-3-0-20) and certain civil action matters (HALLEX I-4-0-2).

The AC is comprised of administrative appeals judges and appeals officers. The authority and signatory rules for the AC are set forth in HALLEX I-3-2-5 C. The Chair of the AC is the Executive Director of OAO.

As set forth in detail in HALLEX I-3-0-6 (available to internal users only) and I-3-0-7, cases are assigned within the AC according to circuit court jurisdiction.

In addition to performing its adjudicative responsibilities, to ensure consistency in adjudication, the AC may also act en banc to decide novel issues that affect a significant number of cases and on which there are no clear precedents in the statute, regulations, or rulings. As a result of en banc discussions, OAO often initiates HALLEX or other policy changes to address the issue. However, in certain instances, the AC may choose to issue an Appeals Council Interpretation (ACI). For more information about ACIs, see HALLEX II-5-0-1. To review ACIs already issued by the AC, see generally HALLEX II-5.

C. OAO Support Staff Functions

In addition to performing many administrative functions, OAO's support staff also assists the AC in processing its adjudication workload.

Many of the specific staff tasks related to processing incoming requests for review are outlined throughout HALLEX I-3-1. Other staff actions relating to general workup and analysis procedures are set forth in detail in HALLEX I-3-2, including an overview of an analyst's actions on a request for review (HALLEX I-3-2-1) and making a recommendation to the AC (HALLEX I-3-2-5).