TN 20 (03-23)

GN 03970.050 Hearing Officer's Decision on the Charges

A. Policy for hearing officer’s decision

Based on the evidence entered into the record, the hearing officer determines whether the agency proved its charges by a preponderance of the evidence. The hearing officer issues a decision in writing, setting forth specific findings of fact and conclusions of law. The hearing officer mails a copy of the decision to all the parties at their last known addresses. The notice accompanying the decision informs the parties of the right to ask the Appeals Council (AC) to review the hearing officer’s decision.

If the hearing officer determines that the agency proved the charges, the hearing officer will either:

  • suspend the individual for a specified period of not less than 1 year or more than 5 years from the date of the decision, or

  • disqualify the individual from further practice before the agency until the individual may be reinstated. For the procedure on reinstatement, see GN 03970.050C.

Disqualification is the only sanction available if the hearing officer sustained the charges because the representative has:

  • been disbarred or suspended from any court or bar to which the representative was previously admitted to practice;

  • been disqualified from participating in any Federal program or appearing before any Federal agency; or

  • collected or received and retained a fee for representational services in excess of the amount that we authorized.

The sanction becomes effective as of the date of the hearing officer’s decision if the representative does not appeal the suspension or disqualification decision to the AC and the time for requesting AC review expires. If the representative has appealed the suspension or disqualification decision to the AC, we continue to recognize the representative’s appointment(s) until the AC issues a final decision.

Components will know when the sanction decision is effective because:

  1. 1. 

    The sanction information will be entered in the Registration, Appointment and Services for Representatives (RASR) system; and

  2. 2. 

    OGC notifies the following components of the sanction:

    • the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge;

    • the Office of Appellate Operations;

    • the Office of Central Operations;

    • the OHO Regional Attorney for the region(s) in which the representative has been known to practice;

    • the Regional Commissioner(s) for the region(s) in which the representative has been known to practice; and

    • the office that made the referral to OGC.

    OGC’s notice will contain the following information:

    • that we sanctioned the representative;

    • the sanction imposed and the effective date;

    • that our employees should refer to the Intranet website entitled “What to do with a Sanctioned Representative” if the sanctioned representative is appearing before them; and

    • the name of an attorney in OGC to contact with questions about the sanction.

    If the sanctioned representative is an attorney, OGC may also send a copy of the decision to the state bar disciplinary authority for each State or Territory in which OGC knows the representative is licensed to practice law. The agency's Representative Disqualification, Suspension and Non-Recognition Information File system of records (60-0219) allows us to disclose: “[t]o a State bar disciplinary authority in the State(s) in which a disqualified/suspended attorney is admitted to practice that SSA has disqualified/suspended the attorney from further practice before SSA and, upon request, further information concerning the disqualification/suspension.”

B. Policy for appeals and the role of the Appeals Council in an appeal of the hearing officer’s decision

Within 14 business days from the date the hearing officer mails the notice of the decision, either party can ask the AC to review the decision. If timely appealed, OGC will not notify agency components about the hearing decision during the appeal period. While the appeal is pending, we continue to recognize the representative. See GN 03970.055 for further information regarding recognizing a representative.

If the AC's decision results in the suspension or disqualification of the representative, it is effective from the date of the AC's decision. On receiving a final suspension or disqualification decision, OGC notifies agency staff following the instructions in GN 03970.050A.

C. Reinstatement of a suspended or disqualified representative

We will automatically allow an individual to serve as a representative at the end of any suspension. However, a sanctioned representative may petition the AC for reinstatement after one year from the date of the suspension or disqualification. When a sanctioned representative files a petition for reinstatement, the AC gives OGC an opportunity to provide the AC with comments concerning the petition, relevant evidence related to the representative’s activities leading to the sanction, and a written report of any experiences with the suspended or disqualified representative after the date of the suspension or disqualification. If the AC grants reinstatement, OGC will notify the appropriate components within the agency. If the AC denies the representative’s request for reinstatement, the original sanction will remain in effect. If the AC denies the request for reinstatement, it will not consider another request before the end of 3 years from the date of the notice of the previous denial.

NOTE: Refer questions regarding this section to OGC via email at

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GN 03970.050 - Hearing Officer's Decision on the Charges - 03/20/2023
Batch run: 03/20/2023