Last Update: 9/08/05 (Transmittal I-3-36)
An ALJ may seek clarification of an Appeals Council remand order only when the ALJ (1) cannot carry out the directive(s) set forth in the order, or (2) the directive(s) appears to have been rendered moot. ALJs will not seek clarification of Appeals Council remand orders under any other circumstances.
See I-2-1-85 A., When an ALJ May Seek Clarification, for examples of valid clarification requests as well as examples of requests that are not valid and which will not be granted. I-2-1-85 B., Procedure to Request Clarification, describes the procedures which an ALJ must follow when seeking clarification, and also explains the required concurrences which must be obtained and the time limits which must be met to ensure that the process does not cause unnecessary delays. See I-4-3-60 for the procedures pertinent to handling requests for clarification on court cases.
After the ALJ receives the required concurrences, the ALJ will send the clarification request with the claim file directly to the Deputy Chair of the Appeals Council, and send copies of the request to the claimant, representative, Chief ALJ (Attention: Director of DFPP), and Regional Chief ALJ. At the beginning of the clarification request, the ALJ will include a statement that the Chief ALJ has approved the request for clarification of the Appeals Council remand order.
The Deputy Chair will:
Assign the case to his or her Appeals Officer (AO) or other designated OAO employee for review and preparation of an analysis and recommendation. As necessary, the AO or other employee will consult with the Deputy Chair concerning the appropriate response to the request. The AO or other employee will then prepare a written response, either a memorandum declining jurisdiction and responding to the issue(s) raised in the request or an appropriate Appeals Council order (see B. below).
send copies of the clarification request to the claimant, representative, Chief ALJ (Attention: Director of DFPP), and Regional Chief ALJ if the ALJ did not distribute copies.
The Appeals Council will respond to the ALJ's request for clarification as soon as possible after receipt of the request and the claim file. The Council may:
Issue a memorandum (from the Deputy Chair) either declining jurisdiction or providing additional instruction. The Deputy Chair will send the response and the claim file to the ALJ, and send copies of the response to the claimant, representative, Chief ALJ (Attention: Director of DFPP), and the Regional Chief ALJ. The Deputy Chair will also provide copies of the memorandum to the original “A” and “B” AAJs who signed the remand order; or
Vacate its prior order of remand and reinstate the request for review. The Council then may deny or dismiss the request for review; issue a new remand order or issue a decision. If the Appeals Council issues a new remand order or a decision, the Deputy Chair will be the “A” and the prior “A” AAJ will be the “B” AAJ.
If the Council vacates its remand order, it will notify the claimant and representative before taking further action unless the Council issues a fully favorable decision. The Council will also notify the Chief ALJ (Attention: Director of DFPP), Regional Chief ALJ and the ALJ. The Deputy Chair's AO, or other designated employee, will review any response from the claimant or representative and will prepare a new action document for the Council's subsequent disposition of the case.
The Appeals Council will not vacate a remand order after the ALJ has held a new hearing.