I-4-4-13.Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) Actions When Claimant Files Timely Exceptions
Last Update: 3/9/15 (Transmittal I-4-39)
As explained in 20 CFR 404.984(b) and 416.1484(b), and Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-4-4-12, the claimant may appeal an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision after court remand by filing written exceptions within 30 days of the date of receipt of the ALJ's decision (or within the time allowed by the Appeals Council (AC) if it grants an extension of time. See HALLEX I-4-4-12).
Unless a subsequent application is also pending before the AC, analysts in a Court Case Preparation and Review Branch (CCPRB) will handle timely filed exceptions.
The CCPRB analyst reviews the court order or stipulation for remand, the record, the exceptions, and any new evidence submitted to determine whether to recommend that the AC assume jurisdiction of the case. When reviewing the case, the analyst must first determine whether the ALJ complied with the court's order. The AC ordinarily will not assume jurisdiction if it concludes that the ALJ's decision fully complies with the remand orders from the court and the AC, and the decision does not require modification (i.e., it is supported by substantial evidence, it does not contain an error of law, and the ALJ did not abuse his or her discretion).
B. Recommendation to Issue a Decision or Remand Order
If recommending that the AC issue a decision, the analyst will prepare a case analysis in the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS) explaining his or her reasoning.
If the recommendation is to issue a fully favorable AC decision, the analyst will also prepare the decision, refer the case to a paralegal support technician for preparation of attorney fee documents, if appropriate, and route the case through ARPS to the AC for review.
If the recommendation is to issue a partially favorable or unfavorable AC decision, the analyst will prepare an interim notice to the claimant that explains why the AC is assuming jurisdiction, advises the claimant of the action the AC proposes to take, and provides an opportunity for the claimant to submit comments on the AC's proposed action or a statement about the facts and law in the case. The analyst will then route the case with analysis and notice through ARPS to the AC for review. If the AC agrees, CCPRB staff will release the notice of proposed action and diary the case to allow time for the claimant to submit any comments. After the diary expires or the claimant submits comments, whichever is earlier, the analyst will:
Prepare a supplemental analysis in ARPS, if needed; and
Prepare a decision (or other action) and cover notice, responding to any relevant arguments submitted, if appropriate.
Partially favorable AC decisions on sentence 6 remand cases may require special handling. See HALLEX I-4-3-1 for detailed information about sentence 6 remands. Since the decision was not fully favorable and the court retains jurisdiction, CCPRB staff will need to prepare a supplemental certified administrative record before releasing the file to the effectuating component.
If recommending that the AC remand the case to an ALJ, the analyst will prepare a case analysis in ARPS explaining his or her reasoning.
If the ALJ decision was unfavorable, or the AC is assuming jurisdiction to consider only the unfavorable aspect of a partially favorable ALJ decision or an aspect the claimant considers unfavorable in his or her written exceptions, the analyst will prepare the remand order and route the case with the analysis through ARPS to the AC for review.
However, if the ALJ issued a favorable or partially favorable decision and the AC assumes jurisdiction to consider an issue(s) with respect to any favorable aspect of the decision, the analyst will prepare a notice to the claimant that explains why the AC is assuming jurisdiction, advises the claimant of the action the AC proposes to take, and provides an opportunity for the claimant to submit comments on the AC's proposed action. The analyst will then route the case with analysis and notice through ARPS to the AC for review. If the AC agrees, CCPRB staff will release the notice of proposed action and diary the case to allow time for the claimant to submit any comments. After the diary expires or the claimant submits comments, whichever is earlier, the analyst will:
Prepare a supplemental analysis in ARPS, if needed; and
Prepare a remand order (or other action, if warranted) and cover notice.
C. Recommendation to Decline Jurisdiction
When recommending that the AC decline jurisdiction, the analyst will prepare a case analysis in ARPS explaining his or her reasoning. The analyst will specifically address the exceptions and explain why the exceptions do not warrant further action by the AC.
The analyst will then prepare a notice that advises the claimant that the AC has considered the exceptions and has decided to decline jurisdiction. When necessary, the notice will include an adequate explanation as to why the exceptions do not warrant a change in the ALJ's decision and cite pertinent evidence in the record, testimony, or rationale provided by the ALJ as it relates to the exceptions. When exceptions are specifically addressed, the analyst must be careful not to improperly paraphrase or otherwise misstate the ALJ's findings or conclusions in the notice declining jurisdiction.
If additional evidence is submitted, the analyst will enter it into the record using the same procedures as in request for review cases, except for instructions relating to providing a protective filing date for a new application. The applicable procedures are set forth in HALLEX I-3-5-20.
Because final decisions after court remand are governed by 20 CFR 404.984 and 416.1484, the rules relating to protective filing outlined in 20 CFR 404.976 and 416.1476 do not apply. However, if unique circumstances warrant an exception, an AC adjudicator may, at his or her own discretion, provide a protective filing date based on additional evidence.