Jul 25, 2012

AC Policy On Extensions Of Time

     The most recent newsletter of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) includes this recent memo concerning Appeals Council policy on extensions of time to submit additional materials. It's nothing earth shaking but it's the sort of thing that needs to be in the public record. I know that this cannot be viewed from Social Security computers but you should have other ways of finding this document. Posting it on Scribd puts it in a more accessible archive than just putting it on this blog. Besides, Social Security ought to unblock Scribd. There's nothing dangerous about Scribd.
AC Extensions Policy


Chilaw said...

40 days? I am still getting 25 day letters. And the date on the AC correspondence is typically more than five days prior to the materials received in the office.

If the AC is concerned about efficiency, perhaps they could focus on their own internal issues rather than lawyers requesting extensions. I fail to understand why it takes a year (or in at least one instance hear still pending after two years) to issue a ruling on these appeals. It's not like they are writing long, detailed opininions.

Also, there is a heavy element of disorganization and confusion in the process. Frequently AC correspondence lacks audio recordings or other necessary material. There is also no real contact number to get in touch with these people. Thus, when mistakes are made, (evidence submitted not considered, appeals filed but not docketed ect) there is very little efficient way or means for an attorney to get these problems resolved.

Anonymous said...

How about prohibiting submission of additional materials. The AC should be reviewing the ALJ decision based on the information available to the ALJ, not the evidence that the representative failed to obtain in a timely manner, intentionally withheld so it could be submitted to the AC if the case was unfavorable (and there is a well-known firm that has been caught doing just that), or manufactured after the hearing.

The sixty day appeal period provides more than enough time to read the ALJ decision and prepare a memo explaining why you think the ALJ got it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why should there be any extension of time? The record should be complete at the time of ALJ hearing and if you get an UF decision, is it really that hard to fill out the form requesting reveiew? You don't even have to make any arguments.

chilaw said...

The extension of times are not for
submitting the appeal request, but for submitting the actual arguments. As stated above, they are 25 days and not 60 days.

In terms of the previous comment, I have noticed very few remands based on new and material evidence lately. Perhaps this is due to the AC correspondence being sent in a more timely manner than before. In some instances the recording and correspondence arrive within two weeks of the hearing decision.

But there are also many occasions where material post-hearing evidence was submitted only to be not exhibited and placed in the "junk folder." Such a situation would warrant a remand based on new and material evidence.

Anonymous said...

The AC staff is a complete joke. In the vast majority of the appeals we file they routinely fail to properly receipt the appeal even after numerous submissions.

I recently had a claim where I was retained after the ALJ hearing and needed the exhibits and recording. They denied the appeal without ever sending me the requested materials and when I filed a motion to reconsider, they reopened the case, again failed to send me the materials and denied the appeal. So I still haven't seen the file or heard the tape. At this point I determined its just easier to file in USDC to get this info than to try to communicate with the AC.

They should just shut the AC completely down and save SSA some money to be used where it may actually result in work being done.

Anonymous said...

Nobody inside or outside the agency can tell you how the AC actually works. Everything they do is random it seems. Electronic hearing in electronic disability folder? Yep, but let's remand it back to the ALJ because we will just claim it could not be found, but when the claims authorizer gets the folder it is the first thing attached to the prong file.

As stated earlier, the AC should be done away with because it tends to delay a claimant's due process than serve to upheld the integrity of the programs.

Anonymous said...

1:33, I think I am in love with you(r legal reasoning)

Anonymous said...

The AC has been the beneficiary of a LOT of stimulus money and has more than doubled in size in the past few years (especially post-DSI) -- and apparently it's still not functioning very well. Is this a surprise?

Anonymous said...

If you get rid of the Appeals Council then you get rid of the one place the Commissioner can go to get an up and down view of the disability adjudication process nationwide - from the FO, DDS to ALJ level - and also get some insight into what's happening in the federal District Courts and Circuit Courts around the country. The Appeals Council appeal is free and I'm often able to convince the agency to correct its own mistakes through the AC and give relief to thousands of claimants. Take this step away and you will inundate the courts with claims, the most vulnerable people without attorneys will not have access to the same justice,there will be disparate and inconsistent results across the country from magistrate and district judges telling the agency how to interpret its own rules or influenced by their own biases and judicial philosophies, and the delays and waits will be even longer, because they don't have the budget or staffing, and social security claims are not their only workload. And do you think Congress can do much of anything to seek accountability from the Article III courts? At least they can haul the COSS into hearings and hold the agency accountable for its performance.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you may work in the Appeals Council; same tired old arguments that they use in trying to stay in existence.

Anonymous said...

"there will be disparate and inconsistent results across the country from magistrate and district judges telling the agency how to interpret its own rules or influenced by their own biases and judicial philosophies"

As opposed to the disparate and inconsistent results from the AC.

"and the delays and waits will be even longer,"

As opposed to cases sitting at the AC for a year before the AC denies review

Anonymous said...

"Tired" as they are, the arguments are valid and thus far, persuasive; that is why the Appeals Council has existed for over 70 years, and SSA has not eliminated it. It is far easier to achieve greater consistency and hold the Appeals Council accountable for its actions (or inaction) than it would be to manage the courts, if that's even possible. The agency has a duty to be responsive to the public and Congress; the federal courts do not and in fact, are shielded from such public pressure or scrutiny by design.