Social Security Administration Final Rule Fully Implements Office of the Chairman Guidance

In the fall of 2012, the Office of the Chairman of the Administrative Conference issued a report to the Social Security Administration (SSA) examining the submission of evidence in disability cases and providing principles to guide the agency as it considered revising its regulations. 

On February 20, 2014, SSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM),[1] which relied, in significant part, on the 2012 report.  For a detailed description of the NPRM, see my previous blog post.

On March 20, 2015, SSA issued a Final Rule.[2]  This final rule fully implemented the Office of the Chairman’s guiding principles by:

  • Placing evidentiary submission requirements on claimants;[3]
  • Applying the rules equally to attorney and non-attorney representatives;[4]
  • Safeguarding attorney-client privilege and attorney work product;[5]
  • Allowing state rules of professional conduct to remain intact;[6] and
  • Minimizing subjective judgments claimants and their representatives must make about the relevance of the evidence.[7]

Through this final rule, SSA sought to both clarify claimants’ responsibilities to submit evidence and ensure the agency has the documents it needs to make more accurate decisions.  We look forward to seeing how these changes may improve the evidentiary submission process to make it more efficient and fair.

 

[1] See Soc. Sec. Admin., Submission of Evidence in Disability Claims; Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 79 Fed. Reg. 9663 (Feb. 20, 2014).

[2] See Soc. Sec. Admin., Submission of Evidence in Disability Claims; Final Rule, 80 Fed. Reg. 14,828 (Mar. 20, 2015).

[3] See id. at 14,836, 14,838 (codified at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(c); 416.912(c)).

[4] See id. at 14,836-38 (codified at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(b)(2); 416.912(b)(2)).

[5] See id.

[6] See id. at 14,836-37 (codified at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(b)(2)(iv); 416.912(b)(2)(iv)).

[7] See id. (codified at 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(b)(1); 416.912(b)(1)).