I-4-8-25.Office of Appellate Operations Actions When Claimant Files Timely Exceptions

Last Update: 12/16/20 (Transmittal I-4-86)

A. General

As explained in 20 CFR 404.984(b) and 416.1484(b), and Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-4-8-20, 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-4-8-20).

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 court's and AC's remand orders, and the decision does not require modification (e.g., 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

1. Decision

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. For information on AC split actions, seee HALLEX I-3-2-60.

If the recommendation is to issue a fully favorable AC decision or an AC action that is favorable in part and remanded in part, an interim notice of review is not required (see 20 CFR 404.973 and 416.1473). The analyst will 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.

For all other decisions, the analyst will prepare an interim notice of review 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 interim notice of review through ARPS to the AC for review. If the AC agrees, CCPRB staff will release the interim notice of review 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.

NOTE 1:

Partially favorable AC decisions on sentence six remand cases may require special handling. See HALLEX I-4-6-1 for information about sentence six 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.

NOTE 2:

If the claimant or representative requests an appearance to present oral argument, the AC will determine whether to grant or deny the request following the instructions set forth in HALLEX I-3-8-12.

2. Remand

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 analyst recommends that the AC assume jurisdiction to consider only the unfavorable portion of a partially favorable ALJ decision or the portion of the decision that the claimant considers unfavorable in his or her written exceptions, the analyst need not prepare an interim notice of review. 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 fully favorable or partially favorable decision and the AC assumes jurisdiction to consider an issue(s) that the ALJ decided favorably for the claimant, the analyst will prepare an interim notice of review 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 his or her analysis and the interim notice through ARPS to the AC for review. If the AC agrees, CCPRB staff will release the interim notice of review 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.

NOTE:

If the claimant or representative requests an appearance to present oral argument, the AC will determine whether to grant or deny the request following the instructions set forth in HALLEX I-3-8-12.

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 they do not warrant further action by the AC.

The analyst will then prepare a notice that advises the claimant and his or her appointed representative(s), if any, that the AC has considered the exceptions and has decided to decline jurisdiction. 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. In addressing the claimant's exceptions, the analyst must be careful not to improperly paraphrase or otherwise misstate the ALJ's findings or conclusions.

If the AC receives additional evidence, the analyst will handle it 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.

NOTE:

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 404.970 and 416.1470 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.