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Program Uniformity Regs Finalized

The final rule on “program uniformity” has been published in the Federal Register. It is available at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-12-16/pdf/2016-30103.pdf

The final rule still requires claimants and their representatives to submit evidence, or inform SSA about it, at least five business days from the hearing, unless an exception applies. NOSSCR has repeatedly opposed this kind of “five-day rule.”

Although SSA did not heed NOSSCR’s recommendation to withdraw the five-day provision of the proposed rule, the final rule does include several of our suggestions. Hearing notices will be provided at least 75 days before a hearing nationwide, rather than the current requirement of 20 days (outside of Region I) and the 60 days in the proposed rule. The final rule clarifies certain aspects of the good cause exception, and allows exceptions to the deadlines for subpoena requests, objections to issues raised in the notice of hearing, and pre-hearing written statements. It also explains that although there is a deadline for pre-hearing statements, post-hearing statements are still allowed.

The final rule becomes effective on January 17, 2017. However, the notice says “compliance is not required until May 1, 2017.” If you experience ALJs attempting to enforce a five-day rule outside of Region I before May 1, or have other observations about how the final rule is being implemented, please contact NOSSCR.

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