TN 12 (09-19)

DI 33015.045 Disqualification of Disability Hearing Officer (DHO) or Supervisory Hearing Officer (SHO)

A. Policy related to disqualification of a DHO or SHO

1. Reasons to disqualify a DHO or SHO

A DHO or SHO is precluded from conducting a hearing or issuing a hearing determination if:

  1. a. 

    The DHO or SHO had involvement in the determination under appeal, i.e. the initial continuing disability review (CDR) cessation or adverse reopening, or the pre-hearing (PH) affirmation of the initial CDR cessation, or

  2. b. 

    The DHO's or SHO's familiarity with a particular beneficiary (or recipient), beneficiary's (or recipient's) family, or beneficiary's (or recipient's) representative or witnesses is such that a reasonably objective observer would perceive a substantial likelihood that the DHO or SHO cannot make an impartial determination.

NOTE: A mere personal acquaintance with the beneficiary (or recipient), appointed representative, or witness is not, by itself, sufficient reason for disqualification. Nor is offensive or objectionable conduct of a beneficiary (or recipient) reason for disqualification. The DHO's or SHO's training and commitment to a high degree of professionalism should overcome these circumstances.

2. Disqualification of DHO

The SHO must make the decision whether to disqualify a DHO from a case.

3. Disqualification of SHO

Only the disability determination Services (DDS) administrator, the regional officer (RO), or the office of disability determination(ODD) may disqualify an SHO from a case.

B. Actions for potential disqualification

1. DHO actions

  1. a. 

    Immediately bring to the attention of the SHO any case from which you believe you should be disqualified.

  2. b. 

    If any travel cases present potential disqualification issues, consult the SHO about those issues well in advance of your scheduled travel so that appropriate action can be taken before you travel.

2. Beneficiary or recipient requests disqualification

  1. a. 

    Note and deny a beneficiary's (or recipient's) request for disqualification if it is made at the hearing and you see no valid reason for disqualification.

  2. b. 

    Immediately attempt to consult with the SHO, if necessary by telephone, to determine how to proceed if there is some reasonable basis for granting the request even if it is not clear that the request should be granted.

  3. c. 

    Recess the hearing, if necessary, until it is determined how to proceed.

3. Documentation

  1. a. 

    The SHO or DHO prepares a brief memorandum for the claims folder that summarizes any consultation between the DHO and the SHO on the question of whether the DHO should be disqualified.

  2. b. 

    The SHO notes in the claims folder any situation where the SHO disqualified the DHO from the case.

NOTE: These notations will inform any subsequent reviewer of the case and the beneficiary (or recipient) or appointed representative about the factors and reasons involved.

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DI 33015.045 - Disqualification of Disability Hearing Officer (DHO) or Supervisory Hearing Officer (SHO) - 09/05/2019
Batch run: 09/05/2019