TN 12 (09-19)

DI 33015.021 Beneficiary (or Recipient) Does Not Appear at Disability Hearing or Waives Right to Appear at Disability Hearing

A. Policy if beneficiary (or recipient) does not appear or waives right to appear

If a beneficiary (or recipient) waives his or her right to appear at the hearing, or does not appear (and there are no special handling circumstances), a disability hearing officer (DHO) will prepare and issue the determination based on the information in the claims file. The determination will include any additional evidence obtained that results from the request for reconsideration.

The DHO may reschedule a hearing if there is good cause for the beneficiary's (or recipient's) failure to appear at the scheduled hearing.

B. Procedure if beneficiary (recipient) fails to attend the scheduled hearing

1. Favorable determination supported by evidence in file

If the DHO can make a favorable determination without the beneficiary's (or recipient’s) presence at a hearing, then the DHO will make the determination.

2. Favorable determination is not possible

a. The DHO must consider special handling considerations. These include:

  • Homelessness,

  • Illiteracy,

  • Hospitalization,

  • Mental impairment,

  • Limited English Proficiency (LEP), and

  • Communication-related disabilities (vision, speech, or hearing).

b. If special handling situations are present:

  • The DHO must attempt to contact the beneficiary (or recipient) by phone or call-in letter if phone contact is unsuccessful to determine if there was good cause for not attending the scheduled hearing.

  • Carefully consider any request for accommodation (e.g., interpreter, additional time to comply).

  • Involve a designated third party whenever appropriate. See guidelines for involving appointed representatives, applicants, and third-party contacts with requests for claimant evidence or action in DI 23007.005D.

  • Document your actions in response to any request for accommodation.

  • The DHO will make a determination based on the evidence of record if the beneficiary (or recipient) does not respond within 15 days from the date of the letter.

  • Reschedule the hearing if the beneficiary (or recipient) responds and the DHO finds good cause.

c. Special considerations for childhood cases

  • Failure to appear for a scheduled hearing is not an automatic basis for termination.

  • Special efforts must be made as in DI 25205.020 since children are not ordinarily in a position to pursue their claims independently.

C. Circumstances that generally establish good cause

  • The DHO should determine whether good cause exists for failure to appear. The DHO must base his or her determination on the facts of the case.

  • Examples of good cause include but are not limited to: no proper notification of the scheduled hearing, hospitalization, illness, or unforeseeable event.

D. Writing the determination

The DHO prepares a determination based on the evidence in file when the beneficiary (or recipient) waives his or her right to appear at the hearing or the DHO finds no good cause for the beneficiary's (or recipient's) failure to appear. Follow the instructions in DI 33015.020 with the following considerations:

  • Focus independently on relevant items on the “Disability Hearing Officer's Report of Disability Hearing.” For example, rather than eliciting the issues that the DHO will decide at the hearing, frame the issues by reference to the documentary evidence.

  • Evaluate any new documentary evidence submitted.

  • Remember the DHO may use observations the claims representative makes since they are part of the documentary evidence.

  • Make a determination based on all of the evidence in file.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0433015021
DI 33015.021 - Beneficiary (or Recipient) Does Not Appear at Disability Hearing or Waives Right to Appear at Disability Hearing - 01/11/2013
Batch run: 09/05/2019
Rev:01/11/2013