I-3-1-40.Disqualification of an Administrative Appeals Judge or Appeals Officer Assigned to a Case
Last Update: 11/13/18 (Transmittal I-3-164)
All adjudicators must fulfill their duties with fairness and impartiality. An administrative appeals judge (AAJ) or appeals officer (AO) must disqualify or recuse himself or herself from adjudicating a case and request reassignment if he or she is prejudiced or partial with respect to any party or has any interest in a matter pending before the Appeals Council (AC) on a request for review or upon the AC's own motion review. This section also applies to the AC's handling of quality assurance reviews (HALLEX I-3-0-20) and civil action matters (HALLEX I-4-0-2).
Disqualification is not a matter of personal preference or reluctance to handle a particular case. An AAJ or AO must have reasonable and proper grounds for disqualifying himself or herself. The following is a non-exhaustive list of examples of when an AAJ or AO must withdraw from the case:
The AAJ or AO shares an acquaintance with, but does not know, the claimant or any other party;
The AAJ or AO has particular knowledge about the claimant or any other party from an extrajudicial source;
The AAJ or AO believes his or her participation in the case would create an appearance of impropriety; or
The AAJ or AO has financial or other personal interest in the outcome of the case.
AAJs and AOs may not submit blanket recusals on multiple cases, regardless of the reason. AAJs and AOs will make recusal decisions on a case-by-case basis and with regard to their ability to give the claimant a fair opportunity in the administrative appeals process.
B. Procedure for Reassignment When AAJ or AO is Disqualified
If an AAJ or AO disqualifies himself or herself, he or she will provide notice to the Division Chief Administrative Appeals Judge (DCAAJ). The DCAAJ will reassign the case to another AAJ or AO and provide notice to the Chair of the Appeals Council (Chair). If the DCAAJ is the adjudicator recusing himself or herself, the DCAAJ will provide notice to the Chair and the Chair will reassign the case.