Subject: General Workup and Analysis Procedures
This transmittal adds section I-3-2-24 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 proceeding at the Appeals Council (AC) level.
HALLEX I-3-2-24 is organized as follows:
I-3-2-24 – We titled the section “Handling Information Submitted or Associated in a Claim(s) File About a Person Other Than a Party to the Proceeding.”
I-3-2-24 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-3-2-24 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. We also explained how the AC will consider the issue if an administrative law judge (ALJ) mistakenly relied on the evidence of a person who is not a party to the hearing when issuing a decision.
I-3-2-24 C – We titled the subsection “Information About a Person Who Is Not a Party Is Intentionally Submitted,” and provided the two most common scenarios when a claimant or representative might submit the personally identifiable information of another individual to the AC. We clarified that in all cases, the AC will associate any written brief, contention, objection, or argument with a claim(s) file, but will not add attached supporting evidence that is not associated with a party to the proceeding. Rather, if the information was submitted in support of a non-bias related issue, the AC will return the information to the sender with a letter explaining that it cannot consider the information as it relates to the adjudication of a claim that is not before the AC. If the information is submitted in support of a bias allegation, we explained that the AC will not consider the information under the abuse of discretion standard, but will follow the procedures for referring allegations of ALJ general bias or a pattern of bias or misconduct against a group or particular category of claimants outlined in 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), and HALLEX I-1-8-4.
Date: April 11, 2016