I-4-2-10.Assembly of Procedural Material

Last Update: 10/9/20 (Transmittal I-4-82)

A. General

The procedural portion of the administrative record consists of documents that reflect the administrative law judge's (ALJ) and Appeals Council's (AC) treatment and consideration of the claimant's case. It includes not only the final outcome, but also the documents relating to procedural due process.

The court records assistant (CRA) will review the case file to determine if any non-exhibited material should be included in the procedural portion of the certified administrative record (CAR).

NOTE:

When performing the procedural review, the CRA may discover additional evidence that the AC has not yet considered. In that situation, Court Case Preparation and Review Branch (CCPRB) staff will assign the case to an analyst to review the record in light of the additional evidence and to determine the appropriate action. The CRA cannot prepare the administrative record until the AC takes action. See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-4-1-15 D.

B. Non-Exhibited Material Normally Included in the Procedural Record

When reviewing the non-exhibited material, the CRA must consider material that is normally included in the procedural record. The CRA will associate the documents listed below from the non-exhibited material with the file.

1. Forms or Requests

  • Appointment of representative;

  • Request for hearing;

  • Reply card from claimant acknowledging receipt of notice of hearing;

  • Request for review of hearing decision (or AC own motion review letter - usually made an AC exhibit);

  • Request for extension of time to submit additional evidence;

  • Request from claimant to examine the exhibits or for copies of the exhibits (and the response);

  • Request for reopening;

  • Claimant's request for extension of time to file a civil action; and

  • Reports of contact regarding waiver of hearing or failure to attend a hearing.

2. Notices

  • Notice of hearing;

  • Amended notice of hearing; and

  • Notice of supplemental hearing.

3. Waivers

  • Waiver of advance notice of hearing;

  • Waiver of claimant/representative to examine additional evidence; and

  • Waiver of claimant to be represented at a hearing.

4. Qualifications

  • Medical expert's professional qualifications; and

  • Vocational expert's professional qualifications.

5. Orders/Decisions

  • ALJ order establishing good cause for untimely filing;

  • ALJ decision;

  • AC order remanding case to an ALJ;

  • AC or ALJ response to a request for reopening;

  • AC order admitting additional evidence into the record;

  • AC action or decision; and

  • AC order or letter extending the time to file a civil action.

6. Correspondence Falling Within the Time Frame of the Record (i.e., between the date of the request for hearing and the AC's last action on the request for review)

  • Letter(s) between the ALJ or AC and the claimant or his or her representative;

  • Letter(s) from the claimant or his or her representative erroneously addressed — e.g., sent to another component but intended for the ALJ or the AC;

  • Letter(s) written on behalf of the claimant, such as from the spouse;

  • Letter(s) from a Member of Congress, if he or she is acting as representative for the claimant or submitting new evidence on behalf of the claimant;

  • Cover letter(s) for briefs, memoranda, or depositions submitted by claimant's representative (such letters are usually considered part of the document they forward and are referenced in the index);

  • Letter(s) from the Social Security Administration (SSA) to the claimant concerning payment or cessation of payment during the appropriate time frame;

  • Letter(s) to the vocational expert or medical expert who appeared at the hearing;

  • Letter(s) to or from medical sources or facilities, if a copy was furnished to the claimant or his or her representative; and

  • Subpoena(s) to witness(es) and the witness's response, if available.

7. Additional Evidence Discovered Either in the File or in Newly Associated Correspondence

  • Additional evidence that was received at the initial, reconsideration, or hearing level but was not exhibited (see HALLEX I-4-4-25); and

  • Additional evidence that was received at the AC level before the AC's last action on the request for review (see HALLEX I-4-4-25).

NOTE:

The CRA will also make the certification of Social Insurance Award, if any, a part of the procedural section of the CAR, if it was issued as a result of an ALJ or AC decision.

C. Non-Exhibited Material Not Normally Included in the Procedural Record

In reviewing the non-exhibited material, the CRA must consider material that is not normally included in the procedural record. The following documents from the non-exhibited material should not be associated with the file:

  • Congressional correspondence (unless the Member of Congress acts as representative for the claimant or submits new evidence);

  • Correspondence with the Commissioner of Social Security;

  • Representative fee petitions or correspondence solely regarding representative fees, waiver of fees, etc.;

  • Disability Determination Service correspondence (unless SSA sent a copy to the claimant or his or her representative);

  • Envelope transmitting correspondence (unless it is essential to establish a mailing date);

  • Internal memoranda, reports of contact not set forth in subsection B.1. above, worksheets, or memoranda for the file; and

  • Additional evidence received after the AC denied the request for review, dismissed the request for review, or issued a decision because this evidence was not submitted while the claim was pending before the agency.

NOTE:

The CRA will resolve any question of whether to include an item by consulting with the branch chief.

D. Assembling the Procedural Documents

For the procedural documents in the CAR, the CRA will:

  • Assemble and index documents in reverse chronological order;

  • List documents that the ALJ or AC enters as exhibits on the index (HALLEX I-4-2-25 B) to the administrative record with a cross-reference to each exhibit;

  • Use the best copy of any material; and

  • Cover the file box information at the bottom of the page, if it is necessary to use a file box copy.