VB 02502.020 Conferences -- SVB Reconsideration
Formal and informal conferences afford a claimant or beneficiary the opportunity to present his/her case to the person who will make the reconsidered determination. Such conferences are not available when reconsideration request involves initial determinations about a claimant's qualification for or entitlement to SVB payments (with the exception of determinations pertaining to eligibility for SSI benefits under title XVI.)
Formal or informal conferences are available in situations where a beneficiary is dissatisfied with an initial determination to reduce, suspend or terminate his/her SVB payments. In posteligibility actions, availability of face-to-face proceedings at the option of the beneficiary before an adverse action is taken is a requirement of due process of law as it pertains to public assistance and SVB payments. However, such conferences will not be held outside the United States. Beneficiaries must come to the United States at their own expense to participate in a face-to-face conference. (The law does not provide SSA the authority to pay the beneficiary's travel expenses in such cases.)
Generally, the conference is conducted at an SSA office, either by telephone or in person, whichever the beneficiary prefers. However, the conference can be held elsewhere in person if the beneficiary is in the United States and shows circumstances that make this arrangement reasonably necessary. Where possible, beneficiaries abroad may participate by telephone in formal or informal conferences with the official who will render the reconsideration decision. However, time and language differences must be considered in initiating such conferences.
1. Informal Conference
In addition to following the case review procedures in VB 02502.015, a beneficiary and other parties to a reconsideration may present witnesses. A summary record of the conference becomes part of the record. The official who conducts the conference (the decisionmaker) will make the reconsidered determination.
2. Formal Conference
In addition to following the informal conference procedures, the beneficiary and the other parties to the reconsideration may ask SSA to subpoena adverse witnesses and documents and cross-examine adverse witnesses. The summary record of the conference becomes part of the case record. The official who conducts the conference will render the reconsidered determination.
3. Summary Record
Form SSA-8450 will be used to document the reconsideration decision. See VB 02502.015C.5. and VB 02502.025C.4. for alterations that are required in SVB cases. Form SSA-8450 must contain, at a minimum, the following information:
The beneficiary's name and claim number;
Date and location of the conference or case review;
Statement of pertinent issues;
Whether the beneficiary was represented, and, if so, by whom;
Nature of evidence submitted;
Witnesses presented or cross-examined by the beneficiary or representative; and
Summary statement of other pertinent details of the case review or conference.
4. Use of Subpoena
The subpoena procedure is available to enable the beneficiary to challenge adverse testimony or evidence used in the formulation of the initial determination. Use of a subpoena in a formal conference will be rare and will probably only occur when the beneficiary for the first time decides to challenge the initial adverse testimony or evidence on appeal.
5. Cross-examination of Witnesses
At a formal conference, the beneficiary has the right to contest the accuracy of the information supplied by an adverse witness through cross-examination. He/she may ask SSA to produce the adverse witness. If the witness is reluctant to appear and undergo cross-examination and if the beneficiary requests, the FO may attempt to secure the appearance of the witness at the conference by subpoena.
Follow procedures in SI 04020.050D. for scheduling and preparing for formal and informal conferences in SVB cases. Where appropriate, refer to "SVB" instead of "SSI." (Procedures tailored to SVB cases will be issued in the future.)
D. Exhibit -- SSA-8166-U2 (Important Information)
Refer to the exhibit SSA-8166-U2 in SI 04020.050E. when notifying beneficiaries of a sche