Administrative review is conducted in an informal, nonadversarial manner. The claimant
may be represented by an attorney or nonattorney, or appear without representation.
At each step of the appeals process, the claimant may present any information that
he or she believes may be helpful in the case.
A claimant who has been denied benefits at both the initial determination level and
at reconsideration may request a hearing before an ALJ. The claimant may request an
oral hearing or may request that the ALJ issue a decision based on the record. At
the hearing, the claimant and witnesses, if any, give testimony under oath or affirmation,
and the testimony is recorded verbatim. The ALJ inquires fully into the issues, receives
into evidence the testimony and relevant documents, and provides the claimant and/or
the claimant's representative the opportunity to present arguments and examine witnesses.
If additional evidence is necessary, the ALJ may request assistance from other components
of SSA. After the hearing and upon completion of the record, the ALJ issues a written
Upon receipt of a claimant's request for review of a hearing decision, the Appeals
Council (AC) considers the evidence of record, as well any new and material evidence
submitted to it if the evidence relates to the period on or before the date of the
ALJ hearing decision.
The AC may limit the issues it considers when it grants a claimant's request for review.
The AC will notify the claimant and all other parties of the issues it will review.