I-3-1-23.Requesting Paper Claim(s) File

Last Update: 1/14/16 (Transmittal I-3-129)

A. Locating the Claim(s) File

Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) staff will request a paper claim(s) file upon receipt of a request for review where the official claim(s) file is paper. OAO staff will also obtain a paper claim(s) file when it is needed to respond to a request for copies of material (see Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-3-1-21) or a request for an extension of time to file a civil action request (see HALLEX I-3-9-92). Further, OAO staff will request a prior paper claim(s) file when it is needed to fully evaluate the issues before the Appeals Council (see HALLEX I-3-2-22).

To locate a paper claim(s) file, OAO staff will first confirm the location of the claim(s) file by checking the Automated Folder Location Website (or other equivalent Personal Communications (PCOM) queries). To use the site, the user must be logged into Session A in the PCOM system.

B. Claim(s) File Located in the Megasite

If the claim(s) file is located at the Megasite, OAO staff will request the claim(s) file by using the Megasite Information Management System (MIMS). OAO staff must request the paper claim(s) file for a case designated as critical as soon as possible. See HALLEX I-3-1-5 for critical case procedures.

C. Claim(s) File Not Located in the Megasite

1. Request the Claim(s) File

OAO staff will contact and request the claim(s) file from the component holding the claim(s) file. If a paper claim(s) file is “missing,” see instructions in subsection D below.

When the claim(s) file is in a hearing office, OAO staff will request the file by sending an email with the subject line “Request for Paper File” to the general email box of the hearing office with jurisdiction. To find a hearing office's general email address, type ¦ODAR R[region number] into the global address list and locate the appropriate hearing office. For example, to locate the Boston hearing office email address, type in ¦ODAR R1 in the global address list and locate the Boston hearing office. Alternatively, the addresses can be found in the staff listings on the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge intranet site.

NOTE 1:

If a case is designated critical, OAO staff will include this information in the email and request that the claim(s) file be forwarded within 10 days.

NOTE 2:

As National Hearing Centers (NHC) process electronic claims only, it should be unnecessary to contact an NHC for a missing paper claim(s) file. However, in the rare circumstance an NHC needs to be contacted to locate a missing paper claim(s) file, the general email address is ¦¦¦ODAR OCALJ NHC [name of NHC location].

2. Documenting the Request

After sending the email, OAO staff will add an unhidden remark in the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) that indicates the date OAO requested the file. OAO staff will also update the ARPS status code to DACP and diary the case for 30 days (or 10 days for critical cases). For instructions on creating a diary, see the ARPS training manual, Module 6.

NOTE:

Adding a remark in ARPS is very important so that the Appeals Council can evaluate what actions OAO staff took to obtain the file before it determines whether a remand for a missing claim(s) file is appropriate.

3. Follow-Up Procedures

If OAO has not received the file after 30 days (or 10 days for critical cases), OAO staff will document ARPS and notify the branch chief (usually via email) that the claim(s) file was not received. Branch staff will continue to search for the claim(s) file by completing the checklist in HALLEX I-3-1-26. The branch chief will ensure that all relevant follow-ups are completed and annotated on the checklist.

If the branch is unable to obtain the file after taking all necessary actions, the branch chief will certify that the claim(s) file is lost by signing the checklist, providing the completed checklist to the Appeals Council, and adding a remark in ARPS.

The Appeals Council must remand a case if the claim(s) file cannot be located, but adjudicators will carefully evaluate whether appropriate measures were taken to obtain a claim(s) file before doing so. Generally, the Appeals Council will not remand a case if the checklist is missing or incomplete. Remanding a claim without due diligence in attempting to obtain the claim(s) file causes unnecessary delay for the claimant and an unnecessary workload for OAO in processing second actions and requests for clarification under HALLEX I-2-1-85 and I-3-9-95.

D. Missing Claim(s) File

When queries show a hearing office sent a claim(s) file to OAO, but OAO did not receive the claim(s) file, OAO staff will contact the hearing office following the same general procedures in subsection C above, but will use the subject line “Missing Paper File” to correctly identify the issue. This action is necessary to avoid an unnecessary remand and to save valuable resources.

If OAO is unable to locate the claim(s) file after following these procedures, the Appeals Council will remand the case and instruct that the missing claim(s) file be reconstructed.

NOTE 1:

If the hearing office notifies OAO that it located the paper claim(s) file after the Appeals Council remanded the case, OAO staff will refer hearing office staff to the request for clarification procedures in HALLEX I-2-1-87.

NOTE 2:

If the claim(s) file is available but the hearing recording is missing or inaudible, see the instructions in HALLEX I-3-1-12.