§ 404.1765. Hearing on charges.

(a) Holding the hearing. If the General Counsel or other delegated official does not take action to withdraw the charges within 15 days after the date on which the representative filed an answer, we will hold a hearing and make a decision on the charges.

(b) Hearing officer. (1) The Deputy Commissioner for Disability Adjudication and Review or other delegated official will assign an administrative law judge, designated to act as a hearing officer, to hold a hearing on the charges.

(2) No hearing officer shall hold a hearing in a case in which he or she is prejudiced or partial about any party, or has any interest in the matter.

(3) If the representative or any party to the hearing objects to the hearing officer who has been named to hold the hearing, we must be notified at the earliest opportunity. The hearing officer shall consider the objection(s) and either proceed with the hearing or withdraw from it.

(4) If the hearing officer withdraws from the hearing, another one will be named.

(5) If the hearing officer does not withdraw, the representative or any other person objecting may, after the hearing, present his or her objections to the Appeals Council explaining why he or she believes the hearing officer's decision should be revised or a new hearing held by another administrative law judge designated to act as a hearing officer.

(c) Time and place of hearing. The hearing officer shall mail the parties a written notice of the hearing at their last known addresses, at least 20 days before the date set for the hearing.

(d) Change of time and place for hearing. (1) The hearing officer may change the time and place for the hearing. This may be done either on his or her own initiative, or at the request of the representative or the other party to the hearing.

(2) The hearing officer may adjourn or postpone the hearing.

(3) The hearing officer may reopen the hearing for the receipt of additional evidence at any time before mailing notice of the decision.

(4) The hearing officer shall give the representative and the other party to the hearing reasonable notice of any change in the time or place for the hearing, or of an adjournment or reopening of the hearing.

(e) Parties. The representative against whom charges have been made is a party to the hearing. The General Counsel or other delegated official will also be a party to the hearing.

(f) Subpoenas. (1) The representative or the other party to the hearing may request the hearing officer to issue a subpoena for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and for the production of books, records, correspondence, papers, or other documents that are material to any matter being considered at the hearing. The hearing officer may, on his or her own initiative, issue subpoenas for the same purposes when the action is reasonably necessary for the full presentation of the facts.

(2) The representative or the other party who wants a subpoena issued shall file a written request with the hearing officer. This must be done at least 5 days before the date set for the hearing. The request must name the documents to be produced, and describe the address or location in enough detail to permit the witnesses or documents to be found.

(3) The representative or the other party who wants a subpoena issued shall state in the request for a subpoena the material facts that he or she expects to establish by the witness or document, and why the facts could not be established by the use of other evidence which could be obtained without use of a subpoena.

(4) We will pay the cost of the issuance and the fees and mileage of any witness subpoenaed, as provided in section 205(d) of the Act.

(g) Conduct of the hearing. (1) The hearing officer shall make the hearing open to the representative, to the other party, and to any persons the hearing officer or the parties consider necessary or proper. The hearing officer shall inquire fully into the matters being considered, hear the testimony of witnesses, and accept any documents that are material.

(2) If the representative did not file an answer to the charges, he or she has no right to present evidence at the hearing. The hearing officer may make or recommend a decision on the basis of the record, or permit the representative to present a statement about the sufficiency of the evidence or the validity of the proceedings upon which the suspension or disqualification, if it occurred, would be based.

(3) If the representative did file an answer to the charges, and if the hearing officer believes that there is material evidence available that was not presented at the hearing, the hearing officer may at any time before mailing notice of the hearing decision reopen the hearing to accept the additional evidence.

(4) The hearing officer has the right to decide the order in which the evidence and the allegations will be presented and the conduct of the hearing.

(h) Evidence. The hearing officer may accept evidence at the hearing, even though it is not admissible under the rules of evidence that apply to Federal court procedure.

(i) Witnesses. Witnesses who testify at the hearing shall do so under oath or affirmation. Either the representative or a person representing him or her may question the witnesses. The other party and that party's representative must also be allowed to question the witnesses. The hearing officer may also ask questions as considered necessary, and shall rule upon any objection made by either party about whether any question is proper.

(j) Oral and written summation. (1) The hearing officer shall give the representative and the other party a reasonable time to present oral summation and to file briefs or other written statements about proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law if the parties request it.

(2) The party that files briefs or other written statements shall provide enough copies so that they may be made available to any other party to the hearing who requests a copy.

(k) Record of hearing. In all cases, the hearing officer shall have a complete record of the proceedings at the hearing made.

(l) Representation. The representative, as the person charged, may appear in person and may be represented by an attorney or other representative. The General Counsel or other delegated official will be represented by one or more attorneys from the Office of the General Counsel.

(m) Failure to appear. If the representative or the other party to the hearing fails to appear after being notified of the time and place, the hearing officer may hold the hearing anyway so that the party present may offer evidence to sustain or rebut the charges. The hearing officer shall give the party who failed to appear an opportunity to show good cause for failure to appear. If the party fails to show good cause, he or she is considered to have waived the right to be present at the hearing. If the party shows good cause, the hearing officer may hold a supplemental hearing.

(n) Dismissal of charges. The hearing officer may dismiss the charges in the event of the death of the representative.

(o) Cost of transcript. If the representative or the other party to a hearing requests a copy of the transcript of the hearing, the hearing officer will have it prepared and sent to the party upon payment of the cost, unless the payment is waived for good cause.

[45 FR 52090, Aug. 5, 1980, as amended at 56 FR 24131, 24132, May 29, 1991; 62 FR 38452, July 18, 1997; 63 FR 41417, Aug. 4, 1998; 71 FR 2877, Jan. 18, 2006; 76 FR 80246, Dec. 23, 2011]