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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
Office of Disability Adjudication and Review

HALLEX
Volume I

Transmittal No. I-3-127

Chapter: I-3-3

Subject: Substantive Review

Background

This transmittal amends chapter I-3-3 in the Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual to better explain when an error of law may be present in an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision and how the Appeals Council uses the substantial evidence standard of review.

Explanation of Content and Changes

HALLEX I-3-3 was amended as follows:

HALLEX I-3-3-3 – We made significant editorial and formatting changes to reorganize the information in a manner that more clearly defines the term “error of law.” We added a NOTE that clarifies how the Appeals Council will use HALLEX and other sub-regulatory policies and procedures when considering whether an error of law is present. We expanded the list of examples to include the most common reasons for remand based on an error of law.

HALLEX I-3-3-4 – We made a slight modification to the title of the section to conform with HALLEX writing requirements, resulting in the title, “Administrative Law Judge's Action, Findings, or Conclusions Not Supported by Substantial Evidence.” We expanded subsection A to clarify that an ALJ uses a preponderance of the evidence standard when issuing a decision and how that differs from the Appeals Council's substantial evidence standard of review. We consolidated information previously in subsections A, B, and C into subsection A. We retitled subsection B “Applying the Substantial Evidence Standard of Review” and incorporated information previously in subsection D into subsection B. We updated and expanded the instruction to better distinguish the responsibilities of staff and adjudicators. We made other editorial and formatting changes, including removing subsections C and D.

Date: November 10, 2015