I-4-1-12.Initial Answer Process-Court Case Preparation and Review Branch Responsibilities

Last Update: 12/8/17 (Transmittal I-4-75)

A. General

The Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) Court Case Preparation and Review Branches (CCPRB) regularly monitor notifications and alerts of upcoming due dates from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). CCPRB staff uses the information to ensure all appropriate actions are timely and to provide status updates to OGC.

When notified of a new civil action, CCPRB staff will review the complaint and determine the date an answer to the complaint is due in court.

B. Obtaining Paper Claim(s) Files

When notified of a new civil action involving a paper claim(s) file, the civil actions assistant (CAA) will immediately obtain the claim(s) file. The CAA will determine the claim(s) file location and request the claim(s) file as soon as possible (but no later than seven business days) after receipt of the notification of the civil action.

1. Claim(s) File at the Social Security Administration's National Records Center (SSANRC)

If queries show a claim(s) file is located in the SSANRC, the CCPRB supervisory legal assistant (SLA) or branch chief will submit a request through the designated SSANRC court mailbox.

If the SLA or branch chief does not receive a tracking number for the claim(s) file within two full business days of the request, the SLA or branch chief will send a follow-up email.

2. Claim(s) File in OAO Branch

If a paper claim(s) file is located in another OAO branch, the CAA will notify the SLA, who will request the claim(s) file by contacting the branch chief of the OAO branch. The OAO branch chief will ensure that the claim(s) file is retrieved or immediately advise the SLA if the claim(s) file cannot be located.

If the SLA does not receive the claim(s) file within two business days, the SLA will ask the CCPRB branch chief for assistance.

3. Claim(s) File Not in OAO or SSANRC

When a paper claim(s) file cannot be located at the SSANRC or OAO, the CAA will search for the claim(s) file using the procedures in Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-3-1-23 C and complete the Claim(s) File and Hearing Recording Search Checklist located in HALLEX I-3-1-26.

4. If Claim(s) File Cannot be Located

If the CAA is unable to locate the claim(s) file after following the procedures in B.3. above, the CAA will assign the case to a CCPRB analyst for review of the case using the procedures in HALLEX I-4-1-15 C.

C. Answer Procedures

1. Establish Whether Filing is Timely

After a court level case is established in the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) and the CAA has obtained the claim(s) file, he or she will verify that the complaint was timely filed using the instructions in HALLEX I-4-1-2.

If the claimant did not timely file the complaint, the CAA will prepare a declaration, as noted in HALLEX I-4-3-5.


If the claimant timely filed the complaint, but a declaration may be needed for another reason (see HALLEX I-4-3-10, I-4-3-15, and I-4-3-20), the CCPRB staff will assign the case to a CCPRB analyst for further review.

2. Request Transcript (if Applicable)

If a hearing was held, the CAA will request a transcript of the hearing using the procedures in HALLEX I-4-1-14.


If the claim(s) file is paper and the hearing recording is not with the claim(s) file, the CAA will attempt to find the hearing recording using the procedures described in HALLEX I-3-1-12 B. If a hearing recording is certified as lost, the CAA will assign the case to a CCPRB analyst for review of the case using the procedures in HALLEX I-4-1-15 B.

3. Assign to a Court Records Assistant (CRA)

After all other actions in this provision are taken, the CAA will update ARPS and assign the case to a CRA to prepare the certified administrative record using the procedures in HALLEX I-4-2-1.