TN 42 (07-20)

DI 30005.001 Introduction to the Federal Quality Review Process

A. Description of the quality review process

1. The sample selection process

Federal quality reviews are national reviews of disability determinations that involve only certified electronic folder (CEF) cases. Prior to effectuation of a determination, an automated sampling process selects cases for federal quality review during an adjudicating component's case closure process.

When a case is selected for federal quality review, the adjudicating component receives an alert, via the National Disability Determination Services System (NDDSS). NDDSS and eView display an indicator when the case has been selected. Cases that are selected for quality review are electronically transferred to a federal review component.

2. Office of Quality Review (OQR) review criteria

OQR reviews sampled cases to ensure that the evidence supports the determination and the determination conforms to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) policies and procedures. When reviewing determinations, quality reviewers use the same policy and procedural guidelines adjudicating components use. For an explanation of the types of quality review samples, see DI 30005.005.

3. OQR return criteria

OQR may return a claim with a deficiency, or a technical corrective action (TCA), to the adjudicating component when the proposed corrections could affect the disability determination or period of disability, or when the overall determination does not adhere to certain technical requirements. For the definition of specific types of deficiencies and how to correct them see DI 30005.202 through DI 30005.204. For a description of TCAs and how to correct them, see DI 30005.230 through DI 30005.232.


4. Adjudicating component rebuttal criteria

The adjudicating component may use the Informal Resolution Request (IRR) process and/or submit a Request for Program Consultation (RPC), for any initial return group I or group II deficiency, when the adjudicating component does not agree with the review component. Adjudicating components may also use the IRR process for disagreements involving technical corrective actions (TCAs). However, adjudicating components may not submit TCA disagreements to RPC.

For instructions on IRR procedures, see DI 30005.501.

For RPC procedures, see DI 30007.000.

B. Glossary of common quality review terms

1. Deficiencies

Deficiencies are specified instances of noncompliance with SSA policies and procedures. OQR categorizes deficiencies as either group I or group II, according to their impact, or potential impact, on the disability determination. OQR further categorizes group I and group II deficiencies as either decisional or documentation deficiencies.

NOTE: TCAs are not categorized as deficiencies. See B.5. below for additional information on TCAs.

2. Categories of group I and group II deficiencies

Group I and group II deficiencies can be categorized as decisional or documentation deficiencies.

  • Group I and group II deficiencies are categorized as decisional deficiencies when a case is fully documented according to policy, but the adjudicating component made an incorrect determination to allow or deny or established an incorrect period of disability.

  • Group I and group II deficiencies are categorized as documentation deficiencies when the case requires additional medical and/or vocational development of evidence to make the correct determination or to determine the correct onset, ending, or cessation date.

3. Group I deficiencies

Group I deficiencies are substantive deficiencies that affect, or have the potential to affect, the basic determination to allow, deny, continue, or cease disability benefits.

For additional information regarding group I decisional and documentation deficiencies, see DI 30005.202 and DI 30005.203.

See GN 04440.003J. (Explanation of Quality Review Terms) for additional information regarding substantive deficiencies.

4. Group II deficiencies

Group II deficiencies are substantive deficiencies that affect only the onset date, ending date, or cessation date.

For additional information regarding group II decisional and documentation deficiencies, see DI 30005.204.

5. TCAs

TCAs involve instances of noncompliance with procedural requirements that may impact effective disability program administration.

TCAs are incorrect actions:

  • Identified during the review process, but not covered by the formal group I or group II definitions or

  • Identified in a non-sample case, regardless of whether the group I or group II definitions cover the incorrect action.

TCAs may be either substantive or non-substantive.

For the TCA categories, see DI 30005.230.

6. Performance accuracy

Performance accuracy refers to the percentage of disability determinations not returned to adjudicating components for further development or correction and represents the reliability of the adjudicating component’s determinations. The definition of performance accuracy includes the measurement of factors with the potential to affect a determination and the accuracy of the determination, as explained in 20 CFR, §404.1643.

OQR only uses data from group I deficiencies, in initial quality assurance sample cases, to compute an adjudicating component’s performance accuracy rate, as explained in 20 CFR §404.1645.

7. Probability of reversal (POR)

POR is an administrative tool that only federal quality reviewers may use to distinguish returnable group I or group II documentation deficiencies from TCAs. The determining factor is whether obtaining missing documentation is likely to reverse the disability determination or change the period of disability. For a complete explanation of POR, see DI 30005.110 and GN 04440.110.

8. Review component

A review component is any SSA federal component that reviews disability determinations for accuracy and policy compliance as a primary job duty. Internal quality assurance reviews by adjudicating components do not meet this definition.

9. Substitution of judgment (SOJ) in the quality review process

One of the principles of quality review is that federal quality reviewers and regional medical contractors (MC) or psychological contractors (PC) must not substitute their judgment for that of the adjudicating component's MCs, PCs, or disability examiners. Federal quality reviewers and regional MCs and PCs must be aware of the SOJ concept, as a review principle, to ensure that they do not perform de novo case reviews. (For an explanation of de novo review, see GN 04440.003D.) Quality reviewers must be aware of SOJ, as a review principle, in potential decisional deficiency considerations.

When the adjudicating component's disability determination is compliant with SSA policy, federal quality reviewers and regional MC and PC staff must avoid substituting their judgment. In instances of SOJ, the review component will not cite a group I or group II decisional deficiency even if, after considering all the facts, they believe that the evidence directs a different determination.

The intent of the SOJ policy is to ensure that the review component does not cite a decisional deficiency, unless the adjudicating component has clearly not followed specific policy or procedure, or the evidence of record does not support the determination. If the adjudicating component's determination does not comply with SSA disability program policy, or if the evidence in a fully documented file does not support the determination, the review component will cite a group I or group II decisional deficiency.

For a complete explanation of SOJ, see GN 04440.118. For an explanation of SOJ and the medical review, see GN 04440.130.

10. Determination supported or supportable

A determination is "supported" or "supportable" if it:

  • complies with SSA policy,

  • is not internally inconsistent, and

  • is substantiated by the preponderance of the evidence in file.

The review component will find a determination is deficient when it does not meet the supported or supportable determination standards.


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DI 30005.001 - Introduction to the Federal Quality Review Process - 02/09/2011
Batch run: 07/29/2020