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HALLEX I-4-154
Office of Hearings and Appeals
Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)
Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I
Division IV: Civil Action
Subject: New Court Cases
Chapter: I-4-100

June 30, 1994

Current through June 1997

I-4-154 EVIDENTIARY DOCUMENTS (EXHIBITS)

NOTE: The technician may not place into the administrative record any evidentiary material that has not been admitted as an exhibit by the ALJ or Appeals Council.

The following topics are covered in this section:

A. Missing Exhibit Lists

B. Review and Marking of Exhibits

C. Technician Procedures for Obtaining Legible Copies

D. Clerical Procedures for Tracing and Retyping

E. Technician Procedures Following Return of Traced or Retyped Copies

F. Translation of Exhibits

G. Duplicate Exhibits

H. Mounting Exhibits

I. Oversized Exhibits

J. Stricken Exhibits

K. Missing Exhibits

L. Missing Exhibits--Follow-up Action if Incomplete Record Certified

A. Missing Exhibit Lists

The technician must ensure that there is an exhibit list in all cases. When there is no exhibit list, or there is only a draft exhibit list, the technician must prepare the necessary list in final form (> I-4-159, Exhibit B).

B. Review and Marking of Exhibits

The technician must place exhibits into the record in the order in which they were admitted by the ALJ and/or Appeals Council and mark them consecutively. The technician must compare the actual exhibit with its description on the exhibit list to ensure that each document has the proper exhibit number and that the exhibit list description shows correct names, dates, and number of pages. If the ALJ or Appeals Council inadvertently gave the same exhibit number to two different exhibits, the technician must designate the first document as "A" and the second document as "B".

This is done on the exhibits list and the actual exhibits. However, if the ALJ or Appeals Council decision cites such an exhibit, the technician will not alter the exhibits and list. In this instance, the technician must place the following footnote on the bottom of the exhibit list:

(Note: Exhibit numbers have been inadvertently duplicated.)

If the actual exhibit contains more pages (or less) than is shown on the exhibit list, the technician must annotate the exhibit list to show the correct number of pages (see > I-4-159, Exhibit E). He or she also corrects any typographical errors in names or dates on the list.

All exhibits must be legible, clearly marked, and complete. See > I-4-159, Exhibit C, for a list of jurisdictions in which legibility is particularly critical. If there is an exhibit stamp on a document, that stamp must be left intact, unless the stamp is very small, very light, obscured by print, or on the very edge of a page. In these instances, the technician must restamp the exhibit clearly and boldly. The technician must carefully place the marking at least 1 inch from the edge of the page, preferably in the lower right corner. The technician must not place the marking over print, unless it is unavoidable. Stamp only the first page of an exhibit. If the page has a dark background, the technician places white tape on the document and writes the word "Exhibit" and the number on the tape. If the exhibit has a light stamp marking, the technician must restamp it unless the marking is very small. In the latter instance, the technician simply traces over the writing to darken it.

When an exhibit is so poor that typing or tracing is impractical, the technician stamps "BEST COPY OBTAINABLE" (BCO). The technician also stamps "BCO" on an exhibit that is legible, but which has a dark background.

C. Technician Procedures for Obtaining Legible Copies

The technician uses the following guidelines for retyping or tracing documents:

1. First check to see if the files contain a more legible copy.

2. Do not request retyping or undertake tracing of voluminous in-patient notes if there is a summary report covering the period of hospitalization. Rather, give special attention to summary reports of hospitalization, laboratory results, diagnoses, and prognoses.

3. If a document is so old it has no relevancy to the current alleged onset date and the ALJ or Appeals Council does not cite such document in the decision, do not attempt to make it more legible. Simply stamp "BCO" on the exhibit.

4. Do not stamp "BCO" on professional qualifications of medical experts or resumes of vocational experts. Rather, request the division clerk to obtain legible copies of these documents. The clerk must prepare professional qualifications of medical experts or obtain resumes of vocational experts which are legible.

5. The technician may not delay a HOT case for improvement of the legibility of documents if it prevents release of the record within the deadline OGC specified. The technician must flag documents which reprographics may be able to make more legible with lighting adjustments. The technician must paperclip a small piece of scratch paper to the document with the following notation:

"Reproduction: Special attention, please."


D. Technician and Clerical Procedures for Tracing and Retyping

The technician or typist must use caution in tracing or retyping illegible material to prevent changing the contents of the document. The use of a medical dictionary is often helpful. If the technician or typist cannot decipher a word or a portion of the material, it is preferable to leave it untraced, or have a blank, than to insert an incorrect word which may change the meaning or value of the documents.

Although it is preferable to retype material as closely to the original format as possible, all pages should have margins of at least 1 inch so that the bound record will not obscure any print. The typist will leave a blank in the retyped text for each word which he or she cannot decipher. These retyped pages will be exact copies of the original document and have the following notation in typed capital letters 1 inch from the bottom of the page:

(BEST TYPED COPY OF THE FOLLOWING PAGE FOR LEGIBILITY)

If the original page does not accommodate the appropriate margins on one retyped page, then the retyped page shall continue on another page. In this instance, the retyped pages must bear the following notation 1 inch from the bottom of the page:

(BEST TYPED COPY OF PAGE ___, EXHIBIT ___ FOR LEGIBILITY)

If an exhibit consists of one page and it must be retyped for legibility, the retyped page must contain the following notation 1 inch from the bottom of the page:

(BEST TYPED COPY OF EXHIBIT ______ FOR LEGIBILITY)

E. Technician Procedures Following Return of Traced or Retyped Copies

The technician must proofread all retyped material to ensure accuracy. The technician must place any retyped pages in the record immediately in front of the original page. The addition of "BEST TYPED COPIES" will not change the number of pages of the actual exhibit.

However the technician must number both the retyped pages and the original exhibit pages when he or she numbers the pages prior to printing (see > I-4-155 A). The technician does not stamp "BCO" on any document which has been retyped for legibility. Likewise, the technician does not stamp "BCO" on any document originating within SSA.

F. Translation of Exhibits

The record must include an English translation of any document in a foreign language. The technician must place the translation in front of the original document and change the number of pages shown on the exhibit list to reflect the number of translated pages. If the exhibit list description does not show that the exhibit has a translation, the technician must add the following after the description of the exhibit:

(And Translation).

The technician takes any Spanish document needing translation to the operations supervisor who sends it for translation. For documents in any language other than Spanish, the technician takes a photocopy of the document to the analyst who handled the case and requests that he or she obtain a translation from Translation Services in Baltimore. The technician must tell the division clerk to annotate the Wang OIS tracking document to show the request for translation.

NOTE: The technician must not delay any HOT case for translation. He or she must annotate the record that a translation is not available and indicate the deficiency on the transcript index. The technician must prepare a supplemental transcript after he or she receives the translation.

G. Duplicate Exhibits

If there is a duplicate or partial duplicate exhibit, the technician must mark the duplicate exhibit in pencil as follows:

(Duplicate of Exhibit ______)

He or she must mark a partial duplicate as follows:

(Duplicate of page ___, Exhibit ___)

H. Mounting Exhibits

The technician must mount any document which is smaller than a standard letter (8 1/2 x 11) on bond paper, using transparent tape. Do not use staples. The technician punches holes in the bond paper. The document is then easier to refile in the claims file after reprographics completes the photocopying.

The technician must take care when mounting exhibits such as EKG tracings to ensure that they are in the correct sequence. The technician indicates in pencil on the exhibit list the number of pages for that particular exhibit after he or she has mounted it.

If the technician cannot mount an exhibit with the heading at the top of the page, then he or she must mount it with the heading parallel to the left margin. Documents must be mounted carefully so that the fastened record does not obscure any print.

The technician cuts out, mounts on bond paper and restamps exhibits which are photocopies of small documents having a very dark background. This ensures a more presentable record and provides a clear background for the page numbers.


I. Oversized Exhibits

The Reprographics Staff must reduce oversized exhibits (documents up to 8 1/2"' x 14"' in size) to standard size. If a document is so large that reduction is not possible; e.g., pulmonary function studies, the technician must carefully cut the material to the appropriate page size. The technician must exercise care to avoid separating special notes or comments when the material is cut. Again, the technician must change the number of pages on the exhibit list for that particular document.

J. Stricken Exhibits

If an exhibit has a line through it on the exhibit list, this may indicate that the ALJ struck it from the record. The technician must verify this by scanning the hearing transcript and exclude any stricken exhibits from the record.

If the hearing transcript reveals that the ALJ struck an exhibit which still remains intact on the exhibit list, the technician must line through the entry.

Each stricken exhibit must show an explanation and if it is not shown, the technician must add the following notation on the exhibit list:

(Stricken from the record by ALJ).

K. Missing Exhibits

If an exhibit appears to be missing, the technician must check the hearing transcript to ensure that the ALJ or Appeals Council did not strike it from the record and determine that it is not in the files, unmarked. Missing procedural documents which the ALJ or Appeals Council entered into the record as exhibits are sometimes not significant enough to delay preparation of the record. Therefore, the technician should make no effort to obtain them. Examples of such documents are the request for hearing or the application for a Social Security number. The technician will indicate on the index and exhibit list that such exhibits are missing and must modify the certification accordingly.

If the case concerns concurrent claims for two types of benefits, (disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income), and the claimant is appealing only one claim in court, the technician may consider the record complete if all exhibits pertaining to the litigated claim are available. Because the record is considered complete, the standard certification is appropriate (see > I-4-156 B). However, the technician must annotate the exhibit list with an asterisk (*) next to the listed exhibit which is not available and place the following footnote at the bottom of the page:

(This exhibit is not available and is not pertinent to the Title ____ claim.)

The technician must exercise care when deciding it is unnecessary to obtain a missing exhibit; resolve any questions by consulting with the operations supervisor. Generally, the technician may not omit an exhibit consisting of medical evidence from any record when disability is an issue before the court. The above two instances--i.e., procedural documents which are exhibits and documents not pertinent to the issue before the court--are the only instances in which the technician may prepare the administrative record without attempting to obtain the missing material.

If the missing exhibit is a statement of professional qualifications of a physician, the technician must request it from the Medical Support Staff. The request must include the full name and address of the physician.

The technician must obtain vocational expert resumes from the Vocational Expert/Medical Expert Coordinator in the OHA Regional Office (RO) which services the hearing office which handled the claimant's claim. The technician must make the request by telephone and ask the RO to send the resume by telefax.

If the technician believes that preparation of the administrative record should await receipt of a missing document, he or she must submit the case and particulars to a senior technician or to the operations supervisor who will attempt to get the missing documents.

If the technician must release an incomplete administrative record because of a court deadline, he or she must prepare a modified certification and an annotated index. He or she must clearly mark the folder containing the partial certified administrative record in red ink as follows:

RETURN TO: ___

ATTENTION: ______

Type this notation also on the Request for Reprographic Services, Form SSA-2977-U4 (see > I-4-159, Exhibit D) when sending the record to Reprographics for printing. The technician will hold the claim file and appeals file and place a note on the outside of the claim file indicating what material is missing.

L. Missing Exhibits--Follow-up Action if Incomplete Record Certified

When the Reprographics Unit returns the OHA copy of the administrative record with the original material, the technician must reassemble the claims file and take the claims file, the appeals file, and the OHA copy of the record to the operations supervisor. At this point the operations supervisor will assist a senior technician in obtaining the missing material. The operations supervisor or the senior technician must document all phone calls with dates, names of contact persons, the name of the persons placing the call, etc., and place these Memoranda for the File (see 1-4-299, Exhibit E) in the appeals file. The senior technician will retain the files and record until a follow-up is made or until the material is received.


The address to give for mailing documents is:

Division ______, Office of Civil Actions

Office of Hearings and Appeals, SSA, DHHS

5107 Leesburg Pike

Falls Church, VA 22041-3200

ATTENTION: ______

Enter all actions on these cases in the Wang OIS and follow-up weekly until OCA prepares a supplemental record or investigation shows that the documents are not available.

When the senior technician receives the missing evidence, he or she must prepare the supplemental record. If the senior technician receives no positive responses concerning the missing material after several attempts to locate the material, he or she must bring the matter to the attention of the operations supervisor. If two weeks have elapsed and the missing material has not been received, the operations supervisor must bring the matter to the attention of the Division Director.

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