Subject: Prehearing Analysis and Case Workup
This transmittal adds sections I-2-1-24 and I-2-1-99 to the Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual to provide instructions for handling information submitted or in a claim(s) file about someone other than a party to the hearing.
HALLEX I-2-1-24 and I-2-1-99 are organized as follows:
I-2-1-24 – We titled the section “Handling Information Submitted or Associated in a Claim(s) File About a Person Other Than a Party to the Hearing.”
I-2-1-24 A – We titled the subsection “General” and explained that any information associated with a record must properly relate to a party to the hearing. We added helpful references to other HALLEX instructions.
I-2-1-24 B – We titled the subsection “Information Inadvertently Associated With the Wrong Claim(s) File,” and explained that this information must be immediately removed from the file. We also added a NOTE explaining the actions to take if staff observes a pattern of a particular individual repeatedly associating information with the wrong claim(s) file.
I-2-1-24 C – We titled the subsection “Information About a Person Who Is Not a Party to the Hearing Is Intentionally Submitted,” and provided the two most common scenarios when a claimant or representative might submit the information of another individual in association with a pending claim. We clarified that in all cases, an administrative law judge (ALJ) will ensure any written arguments are associated with a claim(s) file, but will not add attached supporting evidence that is not associated with a party to the hearing. Rather, if the information was submitted to support a particular finding in the case, the ALJ will return the information to the sender with a letter explaining that he or she cannot consider the information as it relates to the adjudication of a claim that is not before the ALJ. If the information is submitted in support of a recusal request, we explained that the ALJ will return the information to the sender with a letter explaining that he or she cannot consider the information as it relates to the adjudication of a claim that is not before the ALJ and that, for more information about how the agency handles allegations of bias, the representative may review Social Security Ruling 13-1p: Titles II and XVI: Agency Processes For Addressing Allegations of Unfairness, Prejudice, Partiality, Bias, Misconduct, or Discrimination by Administrative Law Judges (ALJs).
I-2-1-99 – We titled the section “Sample – Letter to Representative Declining Recusal and Returning Evidence That Does Not Relate to the Pending Claim,” and added sample language that, when applicable, an ALJ could use to respond to a recusal request.
Date: April 11, 2016