Last Update: 9/13/05 (Transmittal I-4-15)
The CRA may not place into the administrative record any evidentiary material that has not been admitted as an exhibit by the ALJ or AC.
The following topics are covered in this section:
Missing Exhibit Lists (A.)
Review and Marking of Exhibits (B.)
Procedures for Obtaining Legible Copies (C.)
CRA and Clerical Procedures for Tracing and Retyping (D.)
CRA Procedures Following Return of Traced or Retyped Copies (E.)
Translation of Exhibits (F.)
Duplicate Exhibits (G.)
Mounting Exhibits (H.)
Oversized Exhibits (I.)
Stricken Exhibits (J.)
Not Related Exhibits (K.)
Missing Exhibits (L.)
Missing Exhibits — Follow-up Action if Incomplete Record Certified (M.)
The CRA must ensure that there is an exhibit list in all cases. When there is no exhibit list, or there is only a draft exhibit list, the CRA must prepare the necessary list in final form.
The CRA must place exhibits into the record in the order in which they were admitted by the ALJ and/or AC and mark them consecutively. The CRA must compare the actual exhibit with its description on the exhibit list to ensure that each document has the proper exhibit number and that the exhibit list description shows correct names, dates, and number of pages. If the ALJ or AC inadvertently gave the same exhibit number to two different exhibits, the CRA must designate the first document as “A” and the second document as “B”.
This is done on the exhibit list and on the actual exhibits. However, if the ALJ or AC decision cites one of the exhibits, the CRA will not alter the exhibits or the list. In this instance, the CRA must place the following footnote on the bottom of the exhibit list:
(Note: Exhibit numbers have been inadvertently duplicated.)
If the actual exhibit contains more pages (or less) than is shown on the exhibit list, the CRA must annotate the exhibit list to show the correct number of pages (see I-4-1-91 and I-4-1-92). Any typographical errors in names or dates on the list will be corrected.
All exhibits must be legible, clearly marked, and complete. If there is an exhibit stamp on a document, that stamp must be left intact, unless the stamp is very small, very light, obscured by print, or on the very edge of a page. In these instances, the CRA must re-stamp the exhibit clearly and boldly. The CRA must carefully place the marking at least 1 inch from the edge of the page, preferably in the lower right corner. The CRA must not place the marking over print, unless it is unavoidable. Stamp only the first page of an exhibit. If the page has a dark background, the CRA places white tape on the document and writes the word “Exhibit” and the number on the tape. If the exhibit has a light stamp marking, the CRA must re-stamp it unless the marking is very small. In the latter instance, the CRA simply traces over the writing to darken it.
When an exhibit is so poor that typing or tracing is impractical, the CRA stamps “BEST COPY OBTAINABLE” (BCO). The CRA also stamps “BCO” on an exhibit that is legible, but which has a dark background.
The CRA uses the following guidelines for retyping or tracing documents:
First check to see if the files contain a more legible copy.
Do not request retyping or undertake tracing of voluminous in-patient notes if there is a summary report covering the period of hospitalization. Rather, give special attention to summary reports of hospitalization, laboratory results, diagnoses, and prognoses.
If a document is so old it has no relevancy to the current alleged onset date and the ALJ or AC does not cite such document in the decision, do not attempt to make it more legible. Simply stamp “BCO” on the exhibit.
Do not stamp “BCO” on professional qualifications of medical experts or resumes of vocational experts. Rather, the CRA must prepare or obtain professional qualifications of medical experts or resumes of vocational experts which are legible.
The CRA may not delay a case for improvement of the legibility of documents if doing so prevents release of the record within the deadline OGC specified. The CRA must flag documents which reprographics may be able to make more legible with lighting adjustments. The CRA must paperclip a small piece of scratch paper to the document with the following notation:
Reproduction: Special Attention, Please.
The CRA must use caution in tracing or retyping illegible material to prevent changing the contents of the document. The use of a medical dictionary is often helpful. If the CRA cannot decipher a word or a portion of the material, it is preferable to leave it untraced, or have a blank, than to insert an incorrect word which may change the meaning or value of the documents.
Although it is preferable to retype material as closely to the original format as possible, all pages should have margins of at least 1 inch so that the bound record will not obscure any print. The typist will leave a blank in the retyped text for each word which he or she cannot decipher. These retyped pages will be exact copies of the original document and have the following notation in typed capital letters 1 inch from the bottom of the page:
(BEST TYPED COPY OF THE FOLLOWING PAGE FOR LEGIBILITY)
If the original page does not accommodate the appropriate margins on one retyped page, then the retyped page shall continue on another page. In this instance, the retyped pages must bear the following notation 1 inch from the bottom of the page:
(BEST TYPED COPY OF PAGE __, EXHIBIT __ FOR LEGIBILITY)
If an exhibit consists of one page and it must be retyped for legibility, the retyped page must contain the following notation 1 inch from the bottom of the page:
(BEST TYPED COPY OF EXHIBIT ______ FOR LEGIBILITY)
The CRA must proofread all retyped material to ensure accuracy. The CRA must place any retyped pages in the record immediately in front of the original page. The addition of “BEST TYPED COPIES” will not change the number of pages of the actual exhibit.
However the CRA must number both the retyped pages and the original exhibit pages when he or she numbers the pages prior to printing (see I-4-1-55 A.). The CRA does not stamp “BCO” on any document which has been retyped for legibility. Likewise, the CRA does not stamp “BCO” on any document originating within SSA.
The record must include an English translation of any document in a foreign language. The CRA must place the translation in front of the original document and change the number of pages shown on the exhibit list to reflect the number of translated pages. If the exhibit list description does not show that the exhibit has a translation, the CRA must add the following after the description of the exhibit:
The CRA takes any Spanish document needing translation to the translators assigned to the CCPRBs. For documents in any language other than Spanish, the CRA takes a photocopy of the document to the OS and requests that a translation be obtained from Translation Services in Baltimore. The OS prepares the request for translation and annotates the LOTS system to show that the request for translation has been released. A 30 day diary is then established for follow-up with the Central Translation Service.
The CRA must not delay any aged case due in court for translation. He or she must annotate the record that a translation is not available and indicate the deficiency on the transcript index. The CRA must prepare a supplemental transcript after he or she receives the translation.
If there is a duplicate or partial duplicate exhibit, the CRA must mark the duplicate exhibit in pencil as follows:
(Duplicate of Exhibit ______)
A partial duplicate must be marked as follows:
(Duplicate of page ___, Exhibit ___)
The CRA must mount any document which is smaller than a standard letter (81/2 × 11) on bond paper, using transparent tape. Do not use staples. The CRA punches holes in the bond paper. The document is then easier to re-file in the claims file after the reprographics staff completes the photocopying.
The CRA must take care when mounting exhibits such as EKG tracings to ensure that they are in the correct sequence. The CRA indicates in pencil on the exhibit list the number of pages for that particular exhibit after it has been mounted.
If an exhibit cannot be mounted with its heading at the top of the page, it must be mounted with its heading parallel to the left margin. Documents must be mounted carefully so that the bound record does not obscure any print.
The CRA cuts out, mounts on only one side of bond paper and re-stamps exhibits which are photocopies of small documents having a very dark background. This ensures a more presentable record and provides a clear background for the page numbers.
The reprographics staff must reduce oversized exhibits (documents up to 8 1/2" × 14" in size) to standard size. If a document is so large that reduction is not possible; e.g., pulmonary function studies, the CRA must carefully cut the material to the appropriate page size. The CRA must exercise care to avoid separating special notes or comments when the material is cut. Again, the CRA must change the number of pages on the exhibit list for that particular document.
If an exhibit has a line through it on the exhibit list, this may indicate that the ALJ struck it from the record. The CRA must verify this by scanning the hearing transcript and excluding any stricken exhibits from the record.
If the hearing transcript reveals that the ALJ struck an exhibit which still remains intact on the exhibit list, the CRA must line through the entry.
Each stricken exhibit must show an explanation, and if it is not shown, the CRA must add the following notation on the exhibit list:
(Stricken from the record by ALJ).
If an exhibit appears to belong to someone other than the claimant, the CRA must refer the case to a CCPRB analyst for consideration of the impact of such evidence on the defensibility of the case.
If an exhibit appears to be missing, the CRA must check the hearing transcript to ensure that the ALJ or AC did not strike it from the record and determine that it is not in the files, unmarked. Missing procedural documents which the ALJ or AC entered into the record as exhibits are sometimes not significant enough to delay preparation of the record. Therefore, the CRA should make no effort to obtain them. Examples of such documents are the request for hearing or the application for a SSN. The CRA will indicate on the index and exhibit list that such exhibits are missing and must modify the certification accordingly.
If the case concerns concurrent claims for two types of benefits, (disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income), and the claimant is appealing only one claim in court, the CRA may consider the record complete if all exhibits pertaining to the litigated claim are available. Because the record is considered complete, the standard certification is appropriate (see I-4-1-56 B.). However, the CRA must annotate the exhibit list with an asterisk (*) next to the listed exhibit which is not available and place the following footnote at the bottom of the page:
* (This exhibit is not available and is not pertinent to the Title ____ claim.)
The CRA must exercise care when deciding it is unnecessary to obtain a missing exhibit and should resolve any questions by consulting with the OS. Generally, the CRA may not omit an exhibit consisting of medical evidence from any record when disability is an issue before the court. The above two instances; (i.e., procedural documents which are exhibits and documents not pertinent to the issue before the court), are the only instances in which the CRA may prepare the administrative record without attempting to obtain the missing material.
If the missing exhibit is a statement of professional qualifications of a physician, the CRA must obtain it by accessing the appropriate reference source on line.
The CRA must obtain vocational expert resumes from the Vocational Expert/Medical Expert Coordinator in the OHA Regional Office (RO) which services the HO which handled the claimant's claim. The CRA must make the request by telephone and ask the RO to send the resume by FAX machine.
If the CRA believes that preparation of the administrative record should await receipt of a missing document, he or she must submit the case and particulars to the OS who will attempt to get the missing documents.
If the CRA must release an incomplete administrative record because of a court deadline, he or she must prepare a modified certification and an annotated index. He or she must clearly mark the folder containing the partial certified administrative record in red ink as follows:
RETURN TO: _______________
Also, place this on the Request for Reprographic Services (see I-4-1-90) when sending the record to the reprographics staff for printing. The CRA will hold the claim file shell and place a note on the outside of the shell indicating what material is missing.
When the reprographics staff returns the exhibits and CARs, the CRA must reassemble the claims file and take the claims file and the appeals file to the OS. At this point, the OS will assist a lead CRA to obtain the missing material. The OS or the lead CRA must document all telephone calls with dates, names of contact persons, the name of the persons placing the call, etc., and place these Memoranda for the File in the appeals file. The CRA will retain the files until a follow-up is made or until the material is received.
The address to give for mailing documents is:OFFICE OF HEARINGS AND APPEALS, SSA
The CRA enters all actions on these cases in the LOTS system and follows-up weekly until the branch prepares a supplemental record or investigation shows that the documents are not available.
When the missing evidence is received, a supplemental record must be prepared. If the CRA receives no positive responses after several attempts to locate the missing material, the OS must be advised that the missing material has not been obtained. If two weeks have elapsed and the missing material has not been received, the OS must bring the matter to the attention of the CCPRB Chief.