I-2-8-18.Administrative Law Judge Decision When Case Remanded by Court

Last Update: 11/20/14 (Transmittal I-2-128)

A. General

If the Appeals Council (AC) remands a case to the hearing level after a court remand, it generally vacates the entire prior administrative law judge (ALJ) decision, and the ALJ must consider all pertinent issues de novo. When the AC vacates an ALJ decision in an initial entitlement case, the AC will usually direct that the ALJ hold a hearing and issue a new decision in the case. The ALJ will generally decide the remanded issues through the date of the new hearing decision or, in title II cases involving an expired date last insured, through the date of last insured status. When appropriate, the ALJ may issue a recommended decision. See Hearings, Appeals, and Litigation Law (HALLEX) manual I-2-8-15.

The claimant may appeal an ALJ's decision after a court remand by filing written exceptions within 30 days of the date of the ALJ's decision (or within the time allowed by the AC after permitting an extension of time). See 20 CFR 404.984(b) and 416.1484(b). See also HALLEX I-4-4-12. Additionally, the AC may assume jurisdiction of the ALJ's decision under its own motion authority within 60 days of the date of the ALJ's decision. See 20 CFR 404.969 and 416.1469, and HALLEX I-3-6-50.

NOTE:

If the ALJ determines that the criteria for a dismissal are present, the ALJ will follow the instructions in HALLEX I-2-4-37. However, when the case was remanded by the court under sentence six of sections 205(g) and 1631(c) of the Social Security Act, an ALJ may not dismiss the request for hearing even when the usual dismissal criteria are present. Rather, the ALJ will issue a decision. See HALLEX I-2-4-37.

B. Hearing Office Action

1. Initial Review of the Order and Assignment of Case

Hearing offices will identify court remands through the Case Processing and Management System (CPMS). Hearing offices must give priority attention to court remand cases, with time-limited court remands receiving the highest priority. For priority and assignment of court remand cases, see HALLEX I-2-1-55. Each Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) regional office will track the status of court remand cases and work with the hearing office when issues arise, such as when a claimant intends to file a motion to hold the Commissioner in contempt of court.

NOTE 1:

If the claim(s) file is paper and the hearing office does not receive the paper file with the remand order, see HALLEX I-2-1-11.

When a hearing office receives a time-limited or delayed court remand case, the hearing office director (HOD), group supervisor (GS), or other designee will immediately:

  • Review the order;

  • Obtain any missing documents as quickly as possible (e.g., additional evidence that was the basis for the remand, a magistrate's report, or documents from the claimant, representative, or the Office of the General Counsel (OGC));

  • Estimate whether the hearing office can process the case within the court's established time limit, and if not, contact OGC about requesting an extension of time (see NOTE 2 below);

  • Designate the priority of the case; and

  • Prepare an analysis of the court order, the AC order, and the facts of the case within 2 working days of receipt. (The analysis will specifically note the actions mandated by the court or AC, any issues such as a pending motion for contempt of court, or any special circumstances that require special handling such as travel to a remote site).

The HOD, GS, or designee will provide the analysis and claim(s) file to the Hearing Office Chief Administrative Law Judge for immediate assignment to an ALJ.

NOTE 2:

Usually, the Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) Court Case Preparation and Review Branch (CCPRB) will request an extension of time if the court-imposed time limit has expired or will expire within 14 days of remanding a case to an ALJ. However, if the CCPRB did not request an extension, the HOD, GS, or designee, acting on behalf of the ALJ, must notify OGC that the ALJ needs an extension. In all other court-imposed time-limited cases, the HOD, GS, or designee must request any extension as soon as the need is apparent, but at least 14 days before the due date specified in the court's remand order. Whenever an extension is requested, the HOD, GS, or designee must inform the ALJ assigned to the case and the ODAR regional office of the request.

2. Actions After a Case Is Assigned

On the notice of hearing, the ALJ will:

  • Identify and enter the issue(s) raised in the court remand order and the AC remand order; and

  • Enter any new issues not raised in either the court remand order or AC remand order.

When drafting the decision, the ALJ will follow usual procedures, but will specifically address issues relating to the court and AC remand directives.

If the claim(s) file is paper and the ALJ issues:

  • A partially favorable decision, the hearing office will ask the effectuating component to forward the claim(s) file to OAO after the decision is effectuated;

  • A fully favorable decision, the hearing office will send a copy of the fully favorable decision to the appropriate OGC office; or

  • An unfavorable decision, the hearing office will send the file to OAO.

C. Representative Fees

See HALLEX I-1-2-6 for the delegation of authority to authorize fees and HALLEX I-1-2 generally for information on processing representative fees. When evaluating a fee authorization, an ALJ must remember that he or she is only authorized to approve a fee for services before the agency. See HALLEX I-1-2-5.

In some instances, OGC may request a copy of the fee authorized to a representative for administrative services. When requested, hearing office staff will provide a copy to OGC as quickly as possible.