TN 20 (01-12)
GN 03103.190 Inquiries, Changes and Receipt of Material While Case at Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
A. Status requests and hearing correspondence
1. Hearing pending
How to make an inquiry on a pending hearing:
a. Oral inquiry
The field office (FO) advises the inquirer (claimant or representative) of hearings scheduled by the administrative law judge (ALJ), in the received order of the requests. Tell the inquirer how long it normally takes to get a hearing in that area, and that he or she will probably hear from the ALJ before the expiration of that time. If more than the normal length of time elapsed since receipt of the request, notify the ALJ of the inquiry, with a report of contact (RC). Also, notify the inquirer of this action. (If there is a hardship, see GN 03103.110C.1). If circumstances change and there is now a hardship, notify the ALJ.
For inquiries concerning hearings, you may obtain information from the Case Processing and Management System (CPMS) query. You can access CPMS on the Intranet at http://cpms.ba.ssa.gov/cpms. For inquiries concerning an Appeals Council Request for Review, you may obtain information from the Appeals Review Processing System (ARPS). You can access ARPS at: http://arps.sspf.ssa.gov. In ARPS, the FINAL ACTION field displays the decision.
b. Written inquiry of status request
While a hearing request is pending before the ALJ, send all correspondence regarding the status of the request to the ALJ for reply.
Always acknowledge the inquiry and inform the inquirer of the referral. Acknowledge congressional correspondence by letter. Call the ALJ's attention to the fact that the inquiry is from a Member of Congress. Acknowledge inquiries from other sources by letter or telephone, as appropriate.
Do not commit the ALJ to a course of action, e.g., by stating that the ALJ will hold a hearing. The letter should not discuss the merits of issues that are before the ALJ. However, if the incoming correspondence requires a short statement of the reconsideration determination, the letter should include a statement that the ALJ will make an independent review of the evidence previously obtained, and consider any new evidence and testimony submitted and render a decision, based on all the information before him or her. (If a hardship is involved, see GN 03103.110C.1.).
2. Hearing held
After a hearing, tell anyone inquiring about a delay in issuance of the decision to write to the ALJ.
B. Other correspondence to the ALJ
1. Correspondence on issues before the ALJ
Refer to the ALJ for reply. When the FO or payment center (PC) is aware (either by receipt of a copy of the ALJ decision or order, or a copy of Form HA-5051-U3 (Transmittal of ALJ's Decision or Dismissal) that the ALJ has sent the claims file to the Office of Analytics, Review, and Oversight, Office of Appellate Operations (OAO), forward any subsequent correspondence to OAO rather than to the ALJ.
2. Correspondence on other issue(s)
The FO or PC should take whatever action necessary, based on the correspondence, to answer the correspondence. If the FO or PC needs to review the case folder before they prepare the response, reply that we will answer when we receive the folder from the ALJ.
If an immediate answer is necessary, contact the ALJ office by phone and see if they can give you the information. Otherwise, inform the ALJ of the correspondence and of the need for the folder. Request a return of the folder for your inspection, and state when you expect to return the folder. Make every effort to return the folder to the ALJ within 48 hours.
C. Report any additional material received
1. Change of address
a. Report received in the FO
When you receive a report in the FO, notify the ALJ office receiving the Form HA-501-U5 (Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge). If the ALJ does not service the area where the claimant now resides, he or she transfers the request for a hearing to the proper ALJ office. If another FO is now the servicing FO, advise them of the case and transfer all information. Notify the PC and advise them that you informed the ALJ.
b. Report received in the PC
When you receive a report in the PC, notify the ALJ, as stated in GN 03103.190C.1.a. in this section. Also, notify the FO.
2. Person requesting hearing dies with Retirement Survivors Insurance (RSI) claims and earnings discrepancies
The ALJ may dismiss the hearing request, unless another party who would be “adversely affected” by the reconsideration determination wishes to proceed with the hearing. Follow this procedure:
Whichever office receives the report of death (FO or PC) should advise the ALJ and the other office (FO or PC) that the claimant has died, and whether there is someone who may be “adversely affected”, if we do not hold the hearing. Advise the ALJ:
if someone is currently entitled on the number holder's SSN; or
if there is a survivor's claim filed or being developed. If no one has filed a claim, give the name and address of any potential adversely affected party or nearest known relative.
The FO should inform any potential adversely affected party of the effect of the reconsideration determination on his or her claim.
Have the party indicate on Form HA-539 (Notice Regarding Substitution of Party upon Death of Claimant) whether the ALJ should proceed with the hearing. Send the Form HA-539 to the ALJ. (For an exhibit of Form HA-539, see GN 03103.190C.3. in this section).
If the party does not wish to proceed with a hearing, the ALJ dismisses the hearing and sends the file to the reviewing office (FO or PC) to process a survivor claim.
If the party wishes to proceed with a hearing, the ALJ returns the claims file to the reviewing office (usually the FO), and requests a return of the file to his or her office, after adjudicating a survivor claim. (After processing a survivor claim, the reviewing office will use Form SSA-559 (Claims Folder Material Transmittal) to return the file to the ALJ and indicate what effect a favorable ALJ decision would have on the survivor claim. Put a copy of the survivor's initial determination notice in the file.
NOTE: For disability claims, including childhood disability and disability freeze cases, see DI 12045.045.
3. Exhibit of Form HA-539 (Notice Regarding Substitution of Party Upon Death of Claimant)
To view the form, go to HA-539.
4. Additional material received after transmittal of a case
The reviewing office forwards, to the ALJ, any material received after transmittal of a case if it relates to the hearing. The reviewing office holds any other material until the return of the case folder. (If the FO or PC receives additional evidence after the ALJ renders a decision, follow instructions in GN 03104.300).