§ 404.953. The decision of an administrative law judge.

(a) General. The administrative law judge shall issue a written decision that gives the findings of fact and the reasons for the decision. The administrative law judge must base the decision on the preponderance of the evidence offered at the hearing or otherwise included in the record. The administrative law judge shall mail a copy of the decision to all the parties at their last known address. The Appeals Council may also receive a copy of the decision.

(b) Fully favorable oral decision entered into the record at the hearing. The administrative law judge may enter a fully favorable oral decision based on the preponderance of the evidence into the record of the hearing proceedings. If the administrative law judge enters a fully favorable oral decision into the record of the hearing proceedings, the administrative law judge may issue a written decision that incorporates the oral decision by reference. The administrative law judge may use this procedure only in those categories of cases that we identify in advance. The administrative law judge may only use this procedure in those cases where the administrative law judge determines that no changes are required in the findings of fact or the reasons for the decision as stated at the hearing. If a fully favorable decision is entered into the record at the hearing, the administrative law judge will also include in the record, as an exhibit entered into the record at the hearing, a document that sets forth the key data, findings of fact, and narrative rationale for the decision. If the decision incorporates by reference the findings and the reasons stated in an oral decision at the hearing, the parties shall also be provided, upon written request, a record of the oral decision.

(c) Recommended decision. Although an administrative law judge will usually make a decision, the administrative law judge may send the case to the Appeals Council with a recommended decision based on a preponderance of the evidence when appropriate. The administrative law judge will mail a copy of the recommended decision to the parties at their last known addresses and send the recommended decision to the Appeals Council.

[45 FR 52081, Aug. 5, 1980, as amended at 51 FR 303, Jan. 3, 1986; 54 FR 37792, Sept. 13, 1989; 69 FR 61597, Oct. 20, 2004; 73 FR 76944, Dec. 18, 2008; 75 FR 33168, June 11, 2010]