Last Update: 5/16/08 (Transmittal I-2-70)

Last Update: 9/2/05 (Transmittal I-2-63)


Social Security Act §§ 205(b) and 1631(c);

20 CFR §§ 404.953, 404.955, 404.985, 416.1453, 416.1455, 416.1485.

"Claimant," as used herein, refers to the party to the initial, reconsidered, or revised determination who has requested a hearing before an ALJ, and any other party to the determination, or person whose rights may be adversely affected by the hearing decision. (See I-2-1-45, Parties to the Hearing.)

The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will complete action on a request for hearing (RH) by issuing a written decision, except when the ALJ dismisses the RH. The written decision may be a final decision or a recommended decision, depending upon the circumstances of the case.

The primary purpose of an ALJ decision is to dispose of all issues raised in connection with the RH. This includes:

  • all issues decided unfavorably at the reconsideration level in those states which are not prototype states;

  • all issues decided unfavorably at the initial level in those states which are prototype states (see HALLEX I-2-4-98);

  • any additional issues properly raised by the claimant or the ALJ in connection with the RH; and

  • in remanded cases, any issues the Appeals Council or a court has directed the ALJ to address.

The ALJ must base the findings of fact and the ultimate decision on evidence received at the hearing or otherwise included in the record. The ALJ must ensure that the decision is:

  • accurate and legally sufficient;

  • logically organized;

  • written so that the claimant can understand it; and

  • issued as soon as possible after the record is complete.

The ALJ must sign the decision with his/her “wet” signature or "verified" electronic signature, unless a signature entered by another person is authorized. (See HALLEX I-2-8-40 Administrative Law Judge Conducts Hearing but is Unavailable to Issue Decision). A rubber stamp or other mechanical signature is not acceptable or authorized nder any circumstances.

A copy of the decision must be mailed to the claimant and the representative at their last known address.