Scheduling Process FAQs
This decision depends on how representatives choose to handle their caseloads. If your firm or group typically assigns representatives from within your own firm or group to hearings after a hearing is scheduled, Consolidated availability may be the most appropriate option. However, if you are a solo practitioner or your firm's representatives handle cases from start to finish, Solo availability may be the most appropriate.
As a solo practitioner, you should submit availability as part of a Designated Scheduling Group (DSG). However, the DSG will only have yourself as a member, and you only need to provide your own availability. You may specify the dates and times of availability, as well as the maximum number of hearings to be scheduled on a given day or for the DSG for the month. Availability must be submitted separately to all regions in which you have cases. Solo practitioners must ensure that their availability for other regions does not overlap in order to avoid being double-booked.
Your DSG might include only one affiliated representative (yourself). When providing monthly availability, contract representatives will be considered the DSG’s available representatives. You should indicate how many representatives will be available to cover hearings on a given day and, if desired, how many hearings each available representative can handle per day. You do not need to provide the names of the representatives at the time you submit availability to the ELU, but you should provide the number of representatives who will be available to handle hearings that month and their specific availability, if desired. For example, the DSG of C. Representative provides that it will have three available representatives each day in August, all for full days, with up to three hearings per day for each representative and a monthly cap of 90 hearings.
My firm does not use subcontractors, but each of the two associate representatives has a distinct caseload. Additionally, a partner at the firm is the principal representative for all cases, but does not attend hearings. Instead, a specific non-principal representative on a case is the associate who will appear at the hearing. How should we submit our availability?
In this situation, it would be appropriate to form two separate DSGs, each with the solo-secondary modification. For example, if Paul Partner is a partner in the firm of Paul Partner & Associates and the principal representative listed on all the Claimant’s Appointment of Representative forms (1696) submitted, and Paul Partner has two associates with distinct caseloads, then the firm may want to consider creating the following two DSGs: Paul Partner & Associates/Abigail Associate and Paul Partner & Associates/Adam Associate. Each month, the firm would submit two sets of availability per each Region as necessary, one for each of the DSGs.
PLEASE NOTE: If planning to create DSGs in the manner described above, it is critical that the non-principal representative submit a 1696 or similar writing before or concurrent to submitting availability. If at the time that availability is submitted, the non-principal representative has not submitted a 1696, schedulers will not be able to associate a particular case with the availability submitted by the DSG.
Cases are generally scheduled on a "first in, first out" (FIFO) basis determined by request for hearing date unless an exception applies (HALLEX I-2-1-55).
For general availability and DSG questions, please contact the ELU:
Phone: Toll-free 1-866-964-1714 (Monday through Friday)
8:00am to 5:30pm Eastern Time
If your availability has changed, you should notify the ELU.
For matters involving scheduled cases, please contact the servicing hearing office or NHC.
Do not send any case-specific information or other case-specific PII via email.
If you have been double-booked, please contact the local hearing office or NHC.
If a Notice of Hearing has been issued for a particular case and you have a conflict or otherwise need to request a change in the time or place of the hearing, requests must be directed to the assigned Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
If your availability has changed, you should notify the ELU.
Do not send any case-specific information or other personally identifiable information (PII).
You are not required to submit availability for hearings. However, if you do not submit availability, we will schedule hearings without considering your availability and will assume that you are fully available. If you choose to submit availability for hearings, you must submit availability for your DSG. If you choose to provide consolidated availability for representatives in your firm, you should include the number of available representatives in the monthly availability provided for the DSG. You are not required to provide the names of the available representatives.
If you have cases in more than one region, and do not want your DSG’s available representatives to be considered fully available for hearings in more than one region, you must provide separate availability for each applicable region and submit availability via email to the appropriate ELU regional email address.
Please note that schedulers consider a representative’s availability regionally and do not consider availability provided to other regions while scheduling cases. Accordingly, please do not provide duplicate availability for multiple regions, as this will lead to double-booking.
- Assume a firm has six representatives available to conduct hearings in two regions and all six representatives are part of the same DSG. In that situation, for Region A, the group could indicate that there are three available representatives who can attend hearings and that they are available all days for full days. For Region B, the group could indicate the same for the other three representatives.
- Alternatively, the DSG contact could indicate that for Region A, all six representatives are available for the first two weeks of the Target Scheduling Month (TSM) with all days available. For Region B, the DSG could indicate that all six representatives are available for the last two weeks of the TSM.
- However, the group should not indicate that all six representatives are available all days for both Region A and Region B, as the schedulers will assume all six representatives are available all days of the month for both regions, and the representatives may be double-booked for hearings.
What if I am an appointed principal representative, but I typically do not personally appear at hearings? Should I be part of the DSG and should I include myself in the monthly availability count as an available representative?
In this situation, you must identify yourself as affiliated with the DSG, particularly considering you are the appointed principal representative on many cases associated with the DSG.
However, when providing monthly availability for the DSG, you should not include yourself in the monthly count of available representatives unless you plan to appear at some hearings. For monthly availability purposes, you should only indicate the number of representatives available to attend hearings in the Target Scheduling Month (TSM). When providing monthly availability, you are not required to identify the names of available representatives. You only need to provide the number of representatives available to attend hearings in the TSM and the availability for each.
I know I am required to provide information about DSG by encrypted email, and that I must provide my monthly availability by email. Is it permissible for me to email the ELU about scheduling related questions regarding specific cases if I encrypt the email?
No, it is NEVER appropriate to communicate by email if you are including the CLAIMANT’S personally identifiable information (PII), even if the email is encrypted. For non-scheduling, case specific questions, you may call the servicing hearing office or National Hearing Center (NHC) or use the secure messaging function in ERE.
You may email the ELU and refer to a specific hearing office or NHC, the ALJ, and the date and time of a scheduled case so long as the email does not include any claimant PII. Monthly availability submissions do not need to be encrypted as they do not contain any PII.
Yes, please see the encryption instructions below.
Am I required to provide a maximum number of hearings my DSG would like to handle in a month and/or am I required to provide a maximum number of hearings each individual available representative would like scheduled per day?
No, providing a maximum number of cases and/or maximum case cap is optional. We do not accept requests for a weekly cap.
You may submit your availability to each applicable regional mailbox for the Target Scheduling Month (TSM) as soon as it is ready, up to 11 months beyond the current TSM’s deadline. Submissions for subsequent months will not be accepted.
However, please note that we expect representatives to consider the number of schedulable cases in each region close in time to the availability deadline for the TSM. Representatives who submit availability more than 10 days prior to a TSM deadline may not have the opportunity to consider recent case transfers from one region to another. To ensure you are considering recent case transfers when submitting availability for a TSM, and to prevent being considered fully available because you did not submit availability for a region where your cases were transferred, we encourage representatives to submit availability no earlier than 10 days prior to the availability deadline for the TSM and no later than the deadline.
Please be sure to include the name of your DSG, the region, and the TSM for which you are providing availability in the subject line of the email.
You can choose to have another individual, such as a scheduling coordinator, submit availability on behalf of the DSG. You may also name a contact person for the DSG who is not an affiliated representative.
If you do not submit any availability to the ELU, we will assume you are fully available for scheduling in each region where the DSG has five or more schedulable cases.
You should provide availability commensurate with the number of claimants you represent. You are responsible for monitoring the number of cases you and the representatives in your DSG agree to represent. You are also responsible for understanding how many cases you have pending in schedulable statuses in each region. You should provide sufficient availability for OHO to schedule hearings in a manner that keeps pace with the number of claimants you agree to represent and with the number of schedulable cases without delaying our ability to schedule your clients’ cases.
If you do not give sufficient availability, the ELU will contact you by email and/or phone to request the additional availability required. We will communicate using the scheduling contact information associated with your DSG. You will have five (5) business days to provide additional availability.
We ask that you submit additional availability to the appropriate email box. You will be able to provide us information regarding additional available days and/or additional available representatives by email for the Target Scheduling Month (TSM).
If we do not hear from you after five (5) business days, we will send you a second email and a letter. If no response is received after another five (5) days, we will schedule additional cases as appropriate, based on our request for additional availability. We will attempt to accommodate the additional availability on the days previously identified as available for the TSM. However, if you did not provide us additional days or representatives to cover the additional hearings we need to schedule, we may schedule hearings for days and times that you did not indicate as available for your DSG.
You can submit changes in availability to the ELU. Please attempt to submit any changes in availability to us as soon as possible to prevent errors or potential double-booking.
1-866-964-1714. Please see the “Contacting the ELU” tab for more information.
You will receive an automated reply email confirming receipt of your availability submission.
You can monitor your scheduled cases in Electronic Records Express (ERE). Once a case has been scheduled in our case processing system, it will also show as being scheduled in ERE.
If there is a double-booking within one region, or other potential scheduling-related error and the hearing has not yet been noticed, then you should notify the servicing hearing office (HO) or National Hearing Center (NHC).
Please note that OHO does not consider concurrent scheduling (double-booking) across regions to be a scheduling error in instances where a representative has failed to timely provide availability for each region with five or more schedulable cases.
If a Notice of Hearing has been issued in a case and you have a conflict or otherwise need to request a change in the time or place of the hearing, you must direct your request to postpone or change the hearing time or place to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) assigned to the case. The ALJ has the discretion to decide whether postponement or a change in the time or place of the hearing is appropriate and will take all relevant factors into consideration when deciding whether to grant your request.
You do not need to submit availability. We recommend that representatives who have at least 5 cases pending in schedulable statuses in a particular region or 20 cases pending nationally provide availability for each region where they have cases pending a hearing.
Once the hearing has been scheduled, you will receive a Notice of Hearing. If you have a conflict or otherwise need to request a change in the time or place of the hearing, you may direct those requests to the assigned ALJ.
No. Only daily caps may be submitted for individual available representatives. Monthly caps may only be submitted for the entire DSG. Weekly caps are not permitted.
No. Do NOT encrypt your monthly availability submissions. Only emails relating to the creation or modification of a DSG should be encrypted.
When providing the times of availability, you have some options.You may provide:
- The same availability for all available representatives,
- A full day of availability for all or some available representatives,
- The start time for the first hearing of the day, or the start time for the last hearing of the day, or
- Intermittent availability during the day.
Be sure to provide available times in the time zone of the appropriate regional office.
For example, a representative located in San Diego has cases pending in the Detroit Hearing Office. The Detroit Hearing Office is in Region 5 and their regional office is located in Chicago. The representative will submit availability using the Region 5 email box and will give the times using Central Time, even though neither the representative's location nor the Detroit Hearing Office is in the Central Time Zone.
Also remember to only include the start times of hearings when providing availability. We cannot process requested end times of hearings.
If you include a time range for hearings, the time range signifies the first start time of a hearing and the last start time of a hearing within that range. We do not accept requested end times for hearings. If you include a time range in your availability submission, we will consider the end of that range as the start time of the last hearing.
Can I request a conditional start time for hearings depending on the location or the type of hearing scheduled? For instance, can I request to have hearings start at 8:30am if the first hearing is scheduled as a remote hearing, but to start at 9:00am if the first hearing is scheduled as an in-person hearing?
No. We do not accept conditional requests for start times of hearings. If you include conditional start times in your availability submission, we will consider the earlier of the times provided to be the start time of hearings for the day.
No. If you are including requested start times or a start time range in your monthly availability submission for a region, the start times must be in the time zone of the region for which you are submitting availability. Please note that you are not required to include a time zone in your monthly availability submission. However, whether you do or do not include a time zone in your availability submission, we consider any start times included in your availability submission to be in the time zone of the regional office of the region for which you are submitting availability. We will not convert inappropriately submitted time zones to the proper time zone for the region.
For instance, all availability submissions for Region 5 must be in Central Time. This is because Region 5’s Regional Office is in Chicago, which is in the Central Time zone. The Akron, Ohio Hearing Office is Region 5 but is in the Eastern Time zone. Even if all of your cases are in the Akron Hearing Office, and your practice group’s office is in Akron as well, you must still submit your availability in Central Time. If you attempt to submit your availability in Eastern Time, we will assume all start times are in Central Time and will not convert them. Accordingly, if you provide a start time for hearings at 10:00am ET for a Region 5 availability submission, we will consider the start time to be 10:00am CT and will schedule accordingly.
I am in a Geographic DSG and submit availability to a region where the hearing offices are in different time zones from each other. Should I submit availability using the time zone of an office that I am including as a geographic preference for the day?
No. All availability submissions for a region must be submitted using the time zone of the region’s regional office. Each region’s regional office may be located by using the Hearing Office Locator.
If you do not enroll in ERAP, you will not be able to submit monthly availability. We will consider you to be fully available in every region where you have five or more cases pending in a schedulable status.
If I have not signed up for ERAP and OHO considers me to be fully available in each region where I have five or more schedulable cases pending, does that mean I might have hearings scheduled at the same time in different regions?
Yes. Scheduling is monitored and coordinated by region, and schedulers are able to view and prevent double-booking within the same region. If you have five or more schedulable cases pending in only one region and have not enrolled in ERAP, you will not have hearings scheduled at the same time. However, if you have five or more schedulable cases in more than one region, we may schedule you for more than one hearing at the same time in different regions. Although you may request a postponement from the assigned ALJ in this situation, please note that OHO does not consider this to be a scheduling error and the ALJ may decide not to postpone the hearing.
You may enroll in ERAP at any time. If you do not want to be considered fully available in multiple regions, we encourage you to enroll in ERAP. Once you enroll, you may submit non-duplicative availability for each region where you have five or more schedulable cases pending a hearing. Please see the “Getting Started” section in the ERAP home tab on this website for more information regarding enrollment.
No. Hearing offices will not call representatives to schedule hearings. All hearings will be scheduled using ERAP availability.
No. DSGs with the Unlimited Availability modification do not need to submit monthly availability. Hearing Offices will apply unlimited availability when scheduling hearings for the DSG.
I work on my assigned cases from start to finish and appear at hearings for my assigned cases. However, a different representative in my practice group is the principal representative on my assigned cases. I submit my appointment of representative form as a non-principal representative after the hearing is scheduled. Should I set up a Solo DSG with a Solo Secondary modification?
No. For Solo DSGs with a Solo Secondary modification, the non-principal representatives for whom availability will be provided must submit their appointment of representative notice prior to case scheduling. A consolidated DSG would be appropriate in your situation, with the principal representative reflected as the DSG’s affiliated representative. Your practice group may wish to consider your personal availability for hearings when submitting monthly availability for the available representatives for the consolidated DSG.
If you do not have an EIN, you should state that in your submission.
If a DSG does not provide availability by the deadline, the DSG will be considered fully available in each region where the DSG’s affiliated representatives have five or more cases pending in a schedulable status. We will send an email informing the DSG about each region and TSM where it will be considered fully available due to a failure to timely submit availability. You will be able to provide availability for subsequent TSMs if the DSG submits availability by the TSM’s deadline.
If my DSG did not timely submit availability for each region where my DSG’s affiliated representatives have five or more schedulable cases pending and OHO considers my DSG to be fully available in each of those regions, does that mean my DSG might have hearings scheduled at the same time in different regions?
Yes. If your DSG has five or more schedulable cases in more than one region, we may schedule your DSG for more than one hearing at the same time in different regions.
However, if your DSG has five or more schedulable cases pending in only one region, your DSG will not have hearings scheduled at the same time.
If your DSG fails to timely submit availability for a region where the DSG has five or more pending schedulable cases, we will send the DSG an email identifying each region and TSM where the DSG will be considered fully available. We will send this email within three weeks of the availability deadline. This email gives DSGs approximately 5 months to prepare for the possibility that hearings may be scheduled for overlapping days and time in multiple regions in the TSM.
An appointed representative may request a postponement of a scheduled hearing from the assigned ALJ for any reason. However, if the reason for the postponement request is due to concurrent scheduling (“double-booking”) of the appointed representative across regions due to the appointed representative’s DSG’s failure to timely submit availability to the region(s) where the DSG has five or more schedulable cases pending a hearing, OHO does not consider this to be a scheduling error and the ALJ may decide not to postpone the hearing.
If you do not want your DSG to have overlapping availability in multiple regions, you must timely submit separate, non-duplicative availability for each region where your DSG has five or more schedulable cases pending a hearing. Please see the “How to Submit Representative Availability” tab on our website at SSA's Hearing Process. for more information regarding how to submit monthly availability.
If your DSG timely submitted availability to the appropriate regional availability email box for a TSM but received an email stating that the DSG will be considered fully available due to a failure to timely submit availability, you should call the ELU at (866) 964-1714 or send an email to the ELU General Inquiries email box at: OHO.NSD.NSS.ELU.General.Inquiries@ssa.gov.
If contacting us by email, you must provide documentation of your DSG’s timely submitted availability and corresponding auto-reply confirmation from the applicable regional ELU mailbox. You must include “Correction Needed” in the subject line of this documentation email.
No. OHO attempts to accommodate geographic preferences for an available representative when scheduling in-person and VTC hearings. However, to ensure timely scheduling of hearings, available representatives may be scheduled for hearings in different geographic locations than requested in the DSG’s monthly availability submission.
My DSG has a Geographic modification. If my DSG includes a particular hearing office as a geographic preference for an available representative, will OHO only schedule hearings on that day that are associated with that hearing office?
No. Geographic preference is not considered when scheduling remote hearings. The geographic preference is only considered when scheduling in-person or VTC hearings.
No. We will ensure sufficient buffer time between the estimated stop time of the hearings with the first ALJ and the start time of the hearings with the second ALJ. The DSG does not need to include a request for buffer time in its monthly availability submission.
Yes. OHO may schedule both in-person or VTC and remote hearings on the same day for the same available representative. We will ensure sufficient buffer time to allow a representative to travel between different locations. For instance, if an in-person hearing is scheduled earlier in a day, and a remote hearing later in the same day, we will allot at least one hour after the estimated stop time of the first hearing to allow the representative time to travel to a location to appear at the remote hearing. The DSG does not need to include a request for buffer time in a monthly availability submission.
No. We will not accommodate a DSG’s request to have only in-person/VTC or only remote hearings scheduled on the same day for the same available representative.
Will OHO schedule in-person hearings in different hearing offices on the same day for the same available representative? If so, can I request not to have in-person hearings scheduled at different geographic locations on the same day?
Generally, an available representative will only be scheduled for one physical location per day for in-person or VTC cases. An exception is if another hearing office is in close geographic proximity to the first hearing office. OHO will ensure there is sufficient buffer time to account for hearing and travel time to the second location.
No. We will not accommodate a DSG’s request that we do not schedule in-person hearings at different geographic locations on the same day.
If your DSG provides the same availability to all regions, the DSG may be “double-booked” as each region operates independently and uses the availability provided to them. OHO does not know whether the available representatives submitted to one region are the same as the available representatives provided to another region. If the DSG has two different individuals who will attend hearings in the different regions, the actual representative appearing at hearings for the DSG would not be double-booked.
However, if you are a solo practitioner and you submit the same availability to each region, or if you are in a Consolidated DSG and submit the same availability for the same available representative in more than one region, the solo practitioner or available representative may be concurrently scheduled (double-booked). Please note that OHO does not consider this to be a scheduling error and may not move the day and time of the hearing if the concurrent scheduling across regions is due to a DSG’s submission error. If you are a solo practitioner, or know that the same individual representative will be appearing at hearings in multiple regions, we recommend that your DSG not provide overlapping availability to multiple regions.
No. Some DSGs have multiple different individuals who will attend hearings in the same or different regions. Accordingly, OHO cannot know whether the same availability submitted to multiple different regions is an actual error. The DSG should exercise care when submitting availability to each region.
I would rather submit availability for multiple regions for my DSG by sending only one consolidated availability email to the General Inquiries box or to only one of the Regional Availability email boxes. Do I have to submit availability for each region to the appropriate ELU Regional Availability email box?
Yes. DSGs must submit separate monthly availability for each region by sending it to the appropriate ELU Regional Availability email box. We do not process availability for hearings sent to incorrect email boxes and will not forward it to the other ELU Regional email boxes. This includes submissions for regions who previously operated combined Regional Centralized Scheduling Units (RCSUs), such as Regions 1 and 2. Availability for all regions, including for regions that previously operated cross-regional RCSUs, must be submitted separately to the appropriate Regional email box. It is the DSG’s responsibility to ensure availability is submitted to the appropriate email box. If a DSG does not timely submit availability to the appropriate Regional Availability email box, the DSG will be considered to be fully available in each Region where the DSG’s affiliated representatives have five or more schedulable cases pending.
No. Although a DSG can submit availability for up to 11 months beyond the current TSM’s deadline, the DSG must submit separate availability emails. Please include the specific TSM for which the DSG is submitting availability in the subject line of the availability submission.
No. Each availability email for a TSM for a region may be for only one DSG. The DSG name, TSM, and region for which availability is being submitted should be in the subject line of the email.
Your DSG should submit availability for each region where your DSG’s affiliated representatives have five or more cases pending in schedulable statuses. If your DSG does not timely provide availability for a region, you will be considered fully available in each region where you have five or more schedulable cases pending.
An appointed representative may run a status report for their cases using Electronic Records Express (ERE). Schedulable statuses include cases in the following statuses: Master Docket, Pending Review, Pre Hearing Review, Pending Folder Assembly, Folder Assembly, Pre Hearing Development, Pending ALJ Assignment, and Ready to Schedule.
If your DSG timely submitted availability to the appropriate ELU Regional Availability email box, you may request a change to your DSG’s availability. Requests to modify timely submitted availability must be sent to the appropriate ELU Regional Availability email box. Please include “Modification” as well as the TSM, DSG name and region in the subject line of the email. DSGs should send changes to the appropriate ELU Regional Availability email box as soon as the DSG is aware of the change in availability. We will be able to accommodate modifications of your DSG’s availability if the modification request is received by the end of the same month that availability is due for a TSM. For example, March availability is due October 1. DSGs that timely submitted availability by October 1 may request modifications to March availability until October 31.
If your DSG timely submitted availability by the TSM’s deadline, we will attempt to accommodate requests to modify availability received after the end of the month that availability was due for the TSM. If your DSG’s modification request is to add additional days or times of availability, or add additional available representatives, we will always be able to accommodate that request. However, if your DSG is requesting to remove previously submitted days or times of availability, or remove previously identified available representatives, and that request is submitted after the end of the month that availability was due for the TSM, we cannot guarantee that we can accommodate the modification request.
Generally, the earlier a modification request is received, the more likely it can be accommodated. Once scheduling information for a hearing, including the day and time, appears in Electronic Records Express (ERE), even if the hearing has not yet been noticed, requests to remove availability for the scheduled date and time cannot be accommodated. In that instance, if the representative chooses to request a postponement, they must send the request to the assigned ALJ once the Notice of Hearing has been issued.
The NHC shares the availability your DSG provides to each region. You do not need to send separate availability for cases pending with the NHC. However, as NHCs generally share representative availability with the region where the case originated, DSGs should consider their schedulable NHC cases, and where the cases originated, when assessing how much availability to provide for a region.
No. Manner of Appearance (MOA) is handled on a case-by-case basis and is not a part of ERAP.
ERE alerts you to the office where your cases are pending. Use the Hearing Office Locator to identify in which region those offices are located.
Yes. You can provide availability for multiple months at a time. We will accept availability submissions up to 11 months beyond the current TSM’s deadline. We recommend, however, that you submit only availability that is not subject to change and that accounts for possible case transfers to another region.
Although you may provide availability several months prior to the TSM’s deadline, please note that we expect representatives to consider the number of schedulable cases in each region close in time to the availability deadline for the TSM.
Representatives who submit availability more than 10 days prior to a TSM deadline may not have the opportunity to consider recent case transfers from one region to another. To ensure you are considering recent case transfers when submitting availability for a TSM, and to prevent being considered fully available because you did not submit availability for a region where your cases were transferred, we suggest that representatives submit availability no earlier than 10 days prior to the availability deadline for the TSM.
No. All availability must be submitted in compliance with ERAP. Availability must be submitted via email to the following email boxes:
*Reminder: please do not duplicate availability across multiple regions for the same DSG, as this may lead to double-booking.
I know that if I do not want to have overlapping availability for my DSG in multiple regions, I need to submit availability for each region where my DSG has five or more schedulable cases pending. If one of my cases is transferred to another region, do I consider it to be a schedulable case in the region where it originated or the region to which it was transferred?
You should count it as a schedulable case in the region to which it was transferred. You should not count it a schedulable case in the originating region.
If you encounter this issue, please reach out to the ELU as soon as possible after you receive notice of the case transfers.