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HALLEX I-1-501

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-501 WHAT CONSTITUTES A LITIGATION-RELATED INQUIRY

A. Definition

A litigation-related inquiry is any inquiry from any source outside of the Social Security Administration (SSA) (other than the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) or the Department of Justice), including inquiries from attorneys who are counsel for a class action, that goes beyond seeking routine information and that could affect litigation. It may involve an individual civil action, a class action (one that is threatened, pending, or that SSA is implementing), or a general litigation-related question.

"Inquiry" includes not just questions but also requests for information, documents, or action. "Inquiry" also includes any communication that could be construed to carry the threat of litigation. For example, legal aid groups funded by the Legal Services Corporation are prohibited by law from using any congressionally-appropriated funds to file a class action suit against the Federal government, unless they have given notice of their intention to file such an action.

B. Examples

Litigation-related inquiries include but are not limited to:

1. questions dealing with SSA's training, or lack of training, in specific areas;

2. questions concerning SSA's readiness to take on litigation-related workloads;

3. questions concerning whether SSA intends to acquiesce in a particular circuit court decision and, if so, the effect on pending cases (court or noncourt); and

4. questions concerning a class action for which SSA is formulating an implementation order or instructions.

C. Exclusions

The following inquiries or requests for information are ordinarily considered routine and are not considered litigation-related:

1. inquiries from a claimant or representative concerning status of the claimant's case;

2. notification of a change of address;

3. requests for copies of documents from a claim file;

4. questions from a claimant or representative with respect to payment of travel expenses for the particular claimant's case;

5. requests for a list of referral services that provide information on representatives;

6. requests for copies of or to inspect HALLEX, the Social Security Act or regulations, and other material listed in 20 CFR § 422.432 and in HALLEX > I-1-400; and

7. inquiries that identify a claimant as a "responder" in a class action that SSA is implementing. (The component may provide information based on the published implementation instructions for the particular class action.)

OHA components must use judgment in determining whether an inquiry or request is more than routine and could affect litigation. OHA components must resolve any doubt in favor of considering an inquiry to be litigation-related.

NOTE: Process requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or the Privacy Act (PA) that appear to be litigation-related in accordance with usual FOIA/PA operating instructions (see > I-1-400, Information Disclosure). (The FOIA/PA staff(s) will be responsible for identifying and coordinating FOIA requests that appear to also be litigation-related.)

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-502

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-502 GENERAL PROCESSING

A. Introduction

The Litigation Staff in the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Programs is responsible for working with OGC to develop a response to any litigation-related inquiries and notices of threatened class actions received by SSA. Although the OHA component that receives the inquiry or notice is generally responsible for preparing any necessary written response, the Division of Litigation Analysis and Implementation (DLAI) is responsible for communicating with Litigation Staff regarding the inquiry.

B. Written Inquiries

When an OHA component receives a written litigation-related inquiry, the component must hand deliver, telefax or mail the inquiry, along with any background material, to the Director, DLAI at:

Office Location: Suite 702, One Skyline Tower

Telefax: (703) 305-0655

Verification: (703) 305-0656

Mailing Address: Director, DLAI, OHA

5107 Leesburg Pike

Falls Church, VA 22041-3200

If the material cannot be hand delivered, the component will telephone the DLAI Director at (703) 305-0708 to advise that a litigation-related inquiry will be forwarded.

If the written inquiry involves a pending case, the OHA component must also follow the instructions outlined in > I-1-503 B., > I-1-504 B. or > I-1-505 B., as appropriate.

C. Oral Inquiries

When an OHA component receives an oral litigation-related inquiry from a caller, defined as a claimant, representative, congressional office, or other member of the public, the component will follow the component-specific instructions set forth in > I-1-503 through > I-1-506.

The component that receives the oral inquiry should obtain the following information from the caller to put in writing:

1. name of caller;

2. name of organization, if any;

3. date of call;

4. name of case-related litigation (class action or individual civil action), if any, or subject matter; and

5. the information requested.

Any component not described below that receives an oral litigation-related inquiry must refer it to the DLAI Director at the location noted in I-1-502 B. above.

NOTE: When an OHA component receives a written or oral inquiry that is clearly routine, the component will follow its own instructions for responding to such inquiries.

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-503

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-503 DIVISION OF CONGRESSIONAL RELATIONS PROCESSING

A. Oral Inquiries Generally

When the Division of Congressional Relations (DCR) receives an oral litigation-related inquiry, whether from a claimant, representative, congressional office, or other member of the public, DCR will ask the caller to submit a written inquiry and send it to the DLAI Director at the address in > I-1-502. If the caller objects to submitting a written inquiry, DCR may, if necessary, refer the caller to the DLAI Director at the telephone number in > I-1-502. Regardless of whether the caller expresses an intent to submit a written inquiry or is referred to the DLAI Director, DCR will make a written report of contact containing the information listed in > I-1-502 C. and immediately hand carry the written report of contact to the DLAI Director.

B. Oral or Written Inquiries Concerning Pending Cases

When DCR receives an oral or written litigation-related inquiry that relates to a pending case, DCR will:

1. when the case is pending in OHA Headquarters, immediately hand deliver the written report of contact or written inquiry to either the Executive Director, Office of Appellate Operations (OAO), or the Director, OCA, as appropriate; or

2. when the case is pending in a hearing office (HO), immediately telephone the HO litigation coordinator to advise him or her of the inquiry and telefax a copy of the written report of contact or written inquiry to the HO litigation coordinator's attention; and

3. hand deliver to the DLAI Director an informational copy of all litigation-related inquiries referred to OAO, OCA, or an HO.

 

 

HALLEX I-1-504

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-504 HEARING OFFICE PROCESSING

A. Oral Inquiries Generally

When the HO directly receives an oral litigation-related inquiry, the HO will ask the caller to submit a written inquiry and send it to the HO litigation coordinator, unless the inquiry relates to a pending case. If the caller objects to submitting a written inquiry, the HO may, if necessary, refer the caller to the DLAI Director at the telephone number in > I-1-502. Regardless of whether the caller expresses an intent to submit a written inquiry or is referred to the DLAI Director, the HO will make a written report of contact containing the information listed in > I-1-502 C. for each litigation-related inquiry and immediately furnish the written report of contact to the HO litigation coordinator.

The HO litigation coordinator will:

1. send a copy of each written report of contact and the original of any subsequent written inquiry, if any, to the DLAI Director;

2. send a copy of each written report of contact and subsequent written inquiry, if any, to the OHA Regional Office (RO) for its information; and

3. send a copy of each written report of contact and subsequent written inquiry, if any, to the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge (OCALJ) for its information to:

Director, Division of Field Practices and Procedures

Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge

P.O. Box 1237

Arlington, VA 22210

B. Oral or Written Inquiries Concerning Pending Cases

When the HO receives an oral or written litigation-related inquiry that relates to a pending case, the HO will involve the HO litigation coordinator as outlined in A. above and the HO litigation coordinator will:

1. complete steps 1. and 2. as outlined in A. above (except only send a copy of any original written inquiry);

2. if circumstances warrant, telephone the OHA RO, OCALJ, and DLAI Director to discuss the inquiry;

3. coordinate any action that the HO must take as a result of the inquiry; and

4. provide the OHA RO, OCALJ, and DLAI Director with a copy of any written response.

NOTE: There should be few instances in which the HO will need to suspend action on a pending case because of an inquiry.

C. Written Referrals from DCR

When the HO receives from DCR a written report of contact of an oral litigation-related inquiry, as described in > I-1-503 B., the HO litigation coordinator will:

1. if circumstances warrant, provide a copy of the written report of contact to the OHA RO and OCALJ for their information;

2. telephone the DLAI Director to ensure his knowledge of the DCR referral and, if necessary, discuss the HO's proposed response, if any;

3. ensure that the HO takes timely and appropriate action as a result of the inquiry; and

4. provide the OHA RO, OCALJ, and DLAI Director with a copy of any written response.

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-505

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-505 OFFICE OF APPELLATE OPERATIONS PROCESSING

A. Oral Inquiries Generally

When OAO directly receives an oral litigation-related inquiry, OAO will ask the caller to submit a written inquiry and send it to the Executive Director, OAO. If the caller objects to submitting a written inquiry, OAO may, if necessary, refer the caller to the DLAI Director at the telephone number in > I-1-502. Regardless of whether the caller expresses an intent to submit a written inquiry or is referred to the DLAI Director, OAO will make a written report of contact containing the information listed in > I-1-502 C. for each litigation-related inquiry and immediately furnish the written report of contact to the Executive Director's office.

The Executive Director's office will hand carry a copy of each written report of contact and the original of any subsequent written inquiry, if any, to the DLAI Director.

B. Oral and Written Inquiries Concerning Pending Cases

When OAO receives an oral or written litigation-related inquiry that relates to a pending case, OAO will involve the Executive Director. The Executive Director's office will follow the steps as outlined in A. above for oral inquiries and will:

1. provide a copy of each written report of contact and the subsequent written correspondence, if any, or original written inquiry to the DLAI Director;

2. if circumstances warrant, contact the DLAI Director to discuss the inquiry;

3. coordinate any action that OAO must take as a result of the inquiry; and

4. provide DLAI with a copy of any written response.

NOTE: There should be few instances in which OAO will need to suspend action on a pending case because of an inquiry.

C. Written Referrals from DCR

When OAO receives from DCR a written report of contact of an oral litigation-related inquiry, as described in > I-1-503 B., the Executive Director's office will:

1. advise the DLAI Director to ensure his knowledge of the DCR referral and, if necessary, discuss OAO's proposed response, if any; and

2. ensure that OAO takes timely and appropriate action as a result of the inquiry.

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-506

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-506 OFFICE OF CIVIL ACTIONS PROCESSING

A. Oral Inquiries Generally

When an OCA operating division directly receives an oral litigation-related inquiry, the operating division will ask the caller to submit a written inquiry and send it to the DLAI Director. If the caller objects to submitting a written inquiry, the OCA operating division may, if necessary, refer the caller to the DLAI Director at the telephone number in > I-1-502. Regardless of whether the caller expresses an intent to submit a written inquiry or is referred to the DLAI Director, the OCA operating division will make a written report of contact containing the information listed in > I-1-502 C. for each oral litigation-related inquiry not involving a pending individual civil action and immediately hand carry the written report of contact to the DLAI Director. DLAI will process the inquiry in accordance with the steps in I-1-506 C.

B. Oral Inquiries or Written Referrals from DCR Concerning Pending Cases

When an OCA operating division directly receives an oral litigation-related inquiry on a pending individual civil action, or a written report of contact from DCR of an oral litigation-related inquiry pursuant to > I-1-503 B. above in a pending claim, the operating division analyst or attorney will:

1. refer the caller or the DCR written report of contact to the OGC attorney responsible for the case; and

2. if the case is pending action by the Appeals Council following court remand and it appears the inquiry may affect the Appeals Council's action, coordinate suspending the Appeals Council action after consultation with the responsible OGC attorney; or

3. if the case is on remand to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and it appears the inquiry may affect the ALJ's action, coordinate suspending the ALJ action after consultation with the responsible OGC attorney; and

4. regularly follow-up with the responsible OGC attorney, if necessary, until the issue is resolved; and

5. provide DLAI with a copy of any written inquiry or written report of contact and a copy of any written response.

NOTE: There should be few instances in which OHA will need to suspend action on a pending case because of an inquiry.

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-507

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-507 DLAI ACTIONS

DLAI is responsible for communicating with the Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Programs' Litigation Staff in Baltimore in litigation-related matters. The DLAI Director is responsible for timely notifying the Associate Commissioner and Litigation Staff of all litigation-related inquiries, and for coordinating appropriate action within OHA when action is necessary.

Upon receipt of notice of a litigation-related inquiry, the DLAI Director will:

1. immediately consult with the Associate Commissioner and determine the need for further communication within OHA and communication with Litigation Staff; and

2. if the inquiry does not involve a pending case, forward it to Litigation Staff for disposition; or

3. if the inquiry involves a pending case and raises an issue that DLAI or SSA has previously addressed, provide the responsible OHA component with any information available in DLAI to aid in their formulation of a response; or

4. if the inquiry involves a pending case but does not raise an issue that DLAI or SSA has previously addressed, coordinate with the affected OHA components and prepare a formal request to Litigation Staff for resolution of the inquiry.

 

 

 

HALLEX I-1-508

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-508 REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

DLAI will keep a computer-based log of all litigation-related inquiries that it receives and a record of their disposition. Exhibits A and B, > I-1-590, reflect the information categories for which DLAI will record data. On a quarterly basis, DLAI will prepare a report on these inquiries for the Associate Commissioner's communication to the Director of Litigation Staff and the OHA Executive Staff.

 

 

HALLEX I-1-590

Office of Hearings and Appeals

Social Security Administration (S.S.A.)

Department of Health and Human Services

Volume I

Division I: General Subjects

Subject: Litigation-related Inquiries

Chapter: I-1-500

June 30, 1994

Current through March 1997

I-1-590 EXHIBITS

EXHIBIT A

OHA Litigation-related Inquiry Log--Pending Cases

Name of caller

Name of organization, if any

Date of call

Call originally received by (component)

Date referred to DLAI

Name and SSN of pending case (and court jurisdiction if a pending civil action)

Name of case-related litigation (class action or individual civil action), if any, or subject matter

Date referred to Litigation Staff, if any

Disposition of inquiry

EXHIBIT B

OHA Litigation-related Inquiry Log--General

Name of caller

Name of organization, if any

Date of call

Call originally received by (component)

Date referred to DLAI

Name of case-related litigation (class action or individual court case), if any, or subject matter

Date referred to Litigation Staff

Disposition of inquiry


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