Hearings Held by Administrative Appeals Judges of the Appeals Council
We are revising our rules to clarify when and how administrative appeals judges (AAJ) on our Appeals Council may hold hearings and issue decisions. The Appeals Council already has the authority to hold hearings and issue decisions under our existing regulations, but we have not exercised this authority or explained the circumstances under which it would be appropriate for the Appeals Council to assume responsibility for holding a hearing and issuing a decision. This final rule will ensure the Appeals Council is not limited in the type of claims for which it may hold hearings. We expect that this rule will increase our adjudicative capacity when needed, and allow us to adjust more quickly to fluctuating short-term workloads, such as when an influx of cases reaches the hearing level. Our ability to use our limited resources more effectively will help us quickly optimize our hearings capacity, which in turn will allow us to issue accurate, timely, high-quality decisions.