I-4-4-20.Processing Recommended Decisions After Court Remand
Last Update: 3/2/15 (Transmittal I-4-38)
If the case was not remanded by a court, the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) Division of Program Adjudication branches process the recommended decision. If the administrative law judge (ALJ) is recommending a decision after a court remand, the Court Case Preparation and Review Branches (CCPRB) process the recommended decision. OAO processing instructions are located in Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-3-2-50.
However, on occasion, an ALJ may mistakenly use the recommended decision cover letter when he or she intended to issue a decision after a court remand. If the claimant files exceptions to a decision with a recommended decision cover letter, but the decision itself does not reference a recommended decision, the ALJ may have used the incorrect cover letter. If the ALJ recently issued the decision and it seems appropriate given the statement from the claimant, the branch chief may contact the hearing office, confirm that a mistake was made, and ask the hearing office to reissue the decision using the correct cover letter.
If the ALJ intended to issue a recommended decision, the hearing office must follow the procedures in HALLEX I-2-8-15, including converting the claim(s) file to a paper file and routing the claim(s) file per the instructions in that provision.
In most cases, however, OAO will process the claimant's statement as an exception request rather than asking the hearing office to correct the cover notice. This will avoid unnecessary delays in processing. Further, the Appeals Council will not generally find timeliness an issue in this instance because, while it does provide an opportunity to submit comments within a certain timeframe, a recommended decision cover letter does not properly inform the claimant of his or her appeal rights.