TN 115 (07-20)
The Office of Quality Review (OQR) examines a sample of cases selected from adjudicating
components, prior to effectuation, to ensure determinations comply with federal guidelines.
Quality reviewers follow the guidelines in section B below.
Quality reviewers follow steps 1 through 8 below, as the facts of each case dictate.
Determine whether the case meets the criteria for exclusion, as outlined in GN 04440.004 (Quality Review Exclusions). If the case is an exclusion, and does not warrant quality
review, follow the procedures in the bullets below. If the case is not an exclusion, skip to step 2.
Identify the reason for exclusion.
Code the case processing system with the appropriate exclusion code.
Effectuate the determination, when applicable.
Date and release the Personalized Disability
(PDE), per the instructions in DI 27025.001, if appropriate.
Route the folder to the field office (FO).
Open and review all case documents. The order of document review is at the discretion
of the quality reviewer.
After initial review, determine if the adjudicating component’s determination complies
with the Regulations, Social Security Rulings, and other written guidelines, such
as the Program Operations Manual System (POMS). The evidence in the case must be sufficient
and support the adjudicating component's determination. If the adjudicating component's
determination is policy compliant and sufficient, OQR considers this a clean case.
If a deficiency is suspected, and the case needs additional input, continue to step
4. If the case is clean, clear the case following the procedures in the bullets below.
Verify that all determination information is correct on the SSA-831-C3/U3 (Disability
Determination and Transmittal).
Code the case processing system.
Date and release the PDE, as appropriate.
Route the folder to the FO.
Potential issues to consider:
It is possible that the determination and onset for a case are policy compliant, but
the information on the SSA-831 is incorrect. In these instances, upload a modified
SSA-831 with the correct information. Note any changes made in the "Remarks" section
(Item 34) of the SSA-831.
Be sure that the case processing system coding matches the information on the SSA-831.
Determine if you need a consultation from a medical contractor (MC) or psychological
Address questions pertinent to the medical issues in file using the medical referral
in the case processing system. Be sure to address the issues to the MC or PC in a
clear and concise manner. Issues that often require review by an MC or PC include
questions regarding the sufficiency of evidence, onset, evaluation of medical opinions,
and assessing the accuracy of the symptom evaluation completed by the adjudicating
component. (See GN 04440.130 for more information regarding medical review policy.)
NOTE: When the quality reviewer and the MC or PC cannot reach agreement on the medical
findings and conclusions, or both, expressed in the formal assessment, that assessment must remain in the official
claims folder, even when it is contrary to the final conclusion(s) made by the quality
reviewer. In that situation, quality reviewers must prepare a rationale explaining
why the medical findings and conclusions, or
both, in a specific medical assessment(s), are not reflected in the final disposition
of the case (e.g., the assessment(s) contains incorrect conclusions, it does not address
issues that need resolution, etc.).
Determine if any type of deficiency is present. If any deficiency is present, continue
to the steps below.
Deficiencies fall into three categories:
Group I deficiencies, as defined in GN 04440.202 (Group I Decisional Deficiencies) and GN 04440.203 (Group I Documentation Deficiencies), have the potential to reverse the determination from unfavorable to favorable or from favorable to unfavorable.
Group II deficiencies, as defined in GN 04440.204 (Group II Deficiencies), have the potential to change the period of disability; that
is, when disability started, ended, or ceased.
Technical corrective actions (TCAs), as explained in GN 04440.230 (Introduction to Technical Corrective Actions (TCAs)), GN 04440.231 (Substantive Technical Corrective Actions (TCAs)), and GN 04440.232 (Non-substantive Technical Corrective Actions (TCAs)), are instances of non-compliance
with procedural requirements that do not impact the basic determination to allow or
deny or the period of disability.
Group I and group II deficiencies are further classified as decisional or documentation.
Decisional deficiencies exist when adjudicating components sufficiently document a
case to support a determination, but the evidence contradicts the determination.
Potential issue to consider:
Consider Substitution of Judgment
as explained in GN 04440.118, when a group I or group II decisional deficiency exists. MCs and PCs must be aware
of SOJ, as a review principle, to ensure they do not perform a "de novo" case review.
If SOJ is considered, reviewers must document this in the case processing system (note
Documentation deficiencies exist when medical evidence in a case is insufficient to
support a disability determination or to determine the correct onset, ending, or cessation
It is the quality reviewer’s role to consider Probability of Reversal (POR), as explained
in GN 04440.110, when a group I or group II medical or vocational documentation deficiency exists.
The MCs and PCs have a limited role in the POR determination process. Reviewers may
ask MCs or PCs to provide an opinion, but this opinion is not binding. Quality reviewers
make the final POR determination. Reviewers must provide a rationale whenever POR
is considered or applied.
Provide a clear and concise explanation of the deficiency to the adjudicating component
and request, or take, corrective action. If taking corrective action is appropriate,
correct the claim and follow the procedures in step 3 of the quality review process.
If taking corrective action is not appropriate, control the return, as explained in GN 04440.202 (Controlling Deficient Disability Cases), code the case processing system to reflect
why the case is not policy compliant, and continue to step 7.
Send the case back to the adjudicating component. Prepare a summary of the case, including
an explanation of why the case does not comply with policy. Notify the adjudicating
component and/or FO, when applicable, of the deficiency and the required corrective
action(s) as follows:
Use Form SSA-1774-U5 (Request for Corrective Action) to return cases with group I
or group II deficiencies, or TCAs which may affect the disability determination or
the period of disability, to the adjudicating component.
Use Form SSA-5524-U3 (Request for Assistance) to request development from the FO.
Use Form SSA-847-U3 (SSA Request for Case Action) to return cases with TCAs to the
When the adjudicating component and/or FO, as applicable, corrects the deficient case
or completes the required development and returns the case to OQR for review, the
quality reviewer should reevaluate the full case record. Ensure that the adjudicating
component has made the requested corrections and/or that the FO has provided the needed
development. Determine if the case is now policy compliant or if a subsequent return,
as explained in GN 04440.205, to the adjudicating component is warranted. If the case is policy compliant, clear
the case following the procedures outlined above in step 3.