SUMMARY: In accordance with 20 CFR 404.985(e), 416.1485(e) and 402.35(b)(2), the Commissioner of Social Security gives notice of the rescission of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling 87-2(11).
EFFECTIVE DATE: 8/6/98
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Gary Sargent, Litigation Staff, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235, (410) 965-1695.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: A Social Security Acquiescence Ruling explains how we will apply a holding in a decision of a United States Court of Appeals that we determine conflicts with our interpretation of a provision of the Social Security Act (the Act) or regulations when the Government has decided not to seek further review of the case or is unsuccessful on further review.
As provided by 20 CFR 404.985(e)(4) and 416.1485(e)(4), a Social Security Acquiescence Ruling may be rescinded as obsolete if we subsequently clarify, modify or revoke the regulation or ruling that was the subject of the circuit court holding for which the Acquiescence Ruling was issued.
On May 1, 1987, we issued Acquiescence Ruling 87-2(11) to reflect the holding in Butterworth v. Bowen, 796 F.2d 1379 (11th Cir. 1986), that the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council is authorized to initiate reopening of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) decisions only when the decision "is properly before it." The court explained several methods by which an ALJ decision may be properly before the Appeals Council including when the Council timely takes own motion review of a decision. Furthermore, the court's holding limited the reopening jurisdiction of the Appeals Council by specifically requiring timely own motion review to begin within the 60-day time period provided in 20 CFR 404.969.
Concurrent with the rescission of this Ruling, we are publishing our final rules amending sections 404.969 and 416.1469 of Social Security Regulations Nos. 4 and 16 (20 CFR 404.969 and 416.1469), to clarify when the Appeals Council has own motion review authority to reopen and revise ALJ decisions in accordance with the provisions of 20 CFR 404.987, 404.988, 416.1487 and 416.1488. The final rules provide in paragraphs 404.969(d) and 416.1469(d) that if the Appeals Council is unable to decide within the applicable 60-day period whether to review a decision or dismissal, it may consider at a later time whether the decision or dismissal should be reopened and revised under 20 CFR 404.987, 404.988, 416.1487 and 416.1488. Under the final rules, the Appeals Council's authority to reopen and revise ALJ decisions is not limited by the 60-day period provided in paragraphs 404.969(a) and 416.1469(a).
Because the final rules address the Butterworth court's concerns and explain that the Appeals Council's authority to reopen and revise ALJ decisions is not subject to the 60-day period provided in paragraphs 404.969(a) and 416.1469(a), we are rescinding Acquiescence Ruling 87-2(11). The final rules and this rescission restore uniformity to our nationwide system of rules in accordance with our commitment to the goal of administering our programs through uniform national standards as discussed in the preamble to the 1998 acquiescence regulations, 63 FR 24927 (May 6, 1998).
(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001 Social Security - Disability Insurance; 96.002 Social Security - Retirement Insurance; 96.003 Special Benefits for Persons Aged 72 and Over; 96.004 Social Security - Survivors Insurance; 96.006 Supplemental Security Income.)
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