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Attorney Advisor Program Extended

October 31, 2017

SSA extended the attorney advisor program for six months, with a new sunset date of February 5, 2018. Attorney advisors are authorized to conduct certain prehearing proceedings and to issue fully favorable decisions.  82 Fed. Reg. 34400 (July 25, 2017).

This program was instituted in order to decrease backlogs at ODAR on August 9, 2007, and set to expire August 10, 2009, then extended to August 10, 2011, then to August 9, 2013, and most recently to August 7, 2015.  It allows fully favorable disability claim allowances at the hearing level to be made by non-ALJs in what SSA considers clear-cut cases.  The rule permits “some attorney advisors to conduct certain prehearing proceedings and issue fully favorable decisions when the documentary record warrants doing so. . . .

We instituted this practice to provide more timely service to the increasing number of applicants for  Social Security disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments based on disability.”

The regulatory amendment made with this announcement is at 20 C.F.R. Sections 404.942(g) and 416.1442(g), and reads, for both programs: “Sunset provision.  The provisions of this section will no longer be effective on February 5, 2018, unless we terminate them earlier or extend them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal Register.”


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