POMS Reference

GN 03970: Suspension or Disqualification of Representatives

TN 6 (04-12)


Social Security Act 206(a)(1) ,

Regulations 20 CFR 404.1765 and 20 CFR 416.1565

A. Policy for OHO’s processing of the request for a hearing by a representative and designation of a hearing officer

Upon receiving a request from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for the designation of a hearing officer, the Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge, assigns an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to serve as the hearing officer for the case following instructions in HALLEX I-1-1-50B.7. and HALLEX I-1-1-50C.

If the hearing officer holds a hearing, follow policy and procedure in GN 03970.035B through GN 03970.050.

When a representative fails to file an answer, files a late answer without good cause, or files a defective answer, the representative forfeits the right to present evidence at a hearing. OGC may ask OHO to assign a hearing officer to review the record and issue a decision without holding a hearing. In these situations, the hearing officer, at his or her discretion, may either issue a decision based on the record or hold a hearing. If the hearing officer holds a hearing, he or she may allow the representative to make a statement concerning the validity of the proceedings or the sufficiency of the evidence. See GN 03970.050.

B. Policy for hearing officer’s duties for hearing for representatives

Either party may object to the assigned hearing officer if the party feels that the hearing officer cannot render an unbiased decision. The hearing officer will consider the objection and decide either to proceed with the hearing or withdraw. If the hearing officer decides that he or she is unable to render an unbiased decision in the case due to prejudice for or against a party, or due to a personal interest in the matter, the hearing officer must refuse himself or herself. In that case, the hearing office will assign another ALJ to serve as the hearing officer for the case.

The parties to the hearing include the representative and the Social Security Administration. An attorney from OGC will represent the agency. An attorney or non-attorney may represent the representative. The hearing officer sets the time and place for an adversarial hearing on the charges. The hearing officer provides notice of at least 20 days of the hearing to the representative at his or her last known address and to the OGC attorney assigned to the case. The hearing officer may change the time and place for a hearing either on his or her own motion or at the request of a party to the hearing. The hearing officer may also adjourn or postpone the hearing, or reopen the hearing for the receipt of additional evidence at any time before he or she mails the notice of the decision in the case. The hearing officer gives all parties reasonable notice of any such changes.

NOTE: Refer questions regarding this section to the appropriate OGC office electronically at the addresses listed in GN 03970.070A.