I-4-2-5.Case Priority and Initial Screening

Last Update: 2/28/17 (Transmittal I-4-68)

A. Determining Case Priority

Generally, a Court Case Preparation and Review Branch (CCPRB) chief or analyst will identify any case requiring immediate attention. However, the court records assistant (CRA) is responsible for identifying cases in which the court does not grant an extension or grants a limited extension of time to file an answer.

Case priority processing is based on the date a case is due in court. Any case that is due or overdue in court receives the highest priority and must be processed immediately. The CRA will use overnight mail for these cases because the files must be received by the United States Attorney's office within 7 days of the court due date.


The CCPRBs also regularly monitor notifications and alerts of upcoming due dates on cases from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC). See Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-4-1-12 A. These cases also receive priority processing.

B. Initial Screening

1. Preliminary Review

After determining the priority of a case, the CRA performs a preliminary review of the files to detect any procedural or technical errors. It is important to identify any potential problems as early in the review process as possible.


The CRA will verify that all evidence of record relates to the claimant. Before removing material from the claims file(s), the CRA should review the summons and complaint to ascertain the type of claim and ensure the appropriate claim file(s) is available to complete the administrative record.

2. Procedural Review

The CRA performs a procedural review to ensure that:

  • The Appeals Council (AC) responded to any evidence received within 60 days of its final action; and

  • The AC order lists all AC exhibits.

If the CRA identifies problems in the procedural record, see HALLEX I-4-2-10.

3. Review of Hearing Transcript

The CRA reviews the hearing transcript to verify that:

  • There are typed transcripts of all relevant hearings;

  • The claim type(s), claimant's name, and Social Security number are accurate;

  • Page numbers are in the correct sequence;

  • All witnesses took an oath;

  • The transcriber signed and certified the transcript; and

  • The number of “inaudibles” is within the specified guidelines (see HALLEX I-4-2-15 B).

If the CRA finds any problems with the hearing transcript, see generally HALLEX I-4-2-15.

4. Exhibits

The CRA reviews the exhibits to ensure that:

  • All exhibits are present on the exhibit list (including AC exhibits);

  • Exhibits are legible and clearly marked;

  • Exhibits match the description on the exhibit list;

  • Exhibits match the page count on the exhibit list;

  • Exhibits relate to the relevant claimant;

  • Documents are mounted or reinforced; and

  • Documents in foreign languages are translated.

If the CRA identifies any problems in the evidentiary record, see HALLEX I-4-2-20.