TN 4 (02-90)
DI 33015.045 Disqualification of Disability Hearing Officer
A DHO is precluded from conducting a hearing or issuing a hearing decision if the conditions in DI 33001.001 C.1 apply.
When a DHO's familiarity with a particular claimant, claimant's family, or claimant's representative or witnesses is such that a reasonably objective observer would perceive a substantial likelihood that the DHO cannot make an impartial decision, disaqualification is appropriate.
NOTE: A mere personal acquaintance with the claimant/representative/witness is not, by itself, sufficient reason for disqualification. Nor is offensive or objectionable conduct of a claimant reason for disqualification. These are circumstances which the DHO's training and commitment to a high degree of professionalism should overcome.
2. Role of SHO
The decision whether to disqualify a DHO from a case must be made by the SHO.
3. Disqualification of SHO
Only the DDS Administrator, the RO, or the Office of Disability (OD) may disqualify an SHO from a case.
1. DHO actions
Immediately bring to the attention of the SHO any case from which you believe you should be disqualified.
Consult with the SHO well in advance of a scheduled hearing trip about any travel cases which present potential disqualification issues so that appropriate action can be taken before the hearing trip.
2. Claimant requests disqualification
Note and deny a claimant's request for disqualification if it is made at the hearing and you see no valid reason for disqualification.
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.
Recess the hearing, if necessary, until it is determined how to proceed.
Prepare a brief memorandum for the claims folder which summarizes any consultation between the DHO and the SHO on the question of whether the DHO should be disqualified.
Note 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 claimant/representative about the factors and reasons involved.