AuthorDavid Traver
Chapter One
§100 Format and Purpose of This Handbook
§101 History of Process Unification
§101.1 Something That Worked
§102 The Rulings Set Forth Broad Areas of Policy
§103 Social Security Rulings Are Binding
§103.1 Regulations Enforce the Rulings
§103.2 Case Law: The Supreme Court Enforces the Rulings
§103.3 Case Law: Are the Rulings Really Binding? The Skidmore/Chevron Conundrum
§104 Process Unification Rulings Commandments
§104.1 Practice Tip: How to Cite a Hyperlink
§104.2 Process Unification Ruling Hyperlinks
§104.3 Commandments in SSR 96-2p
§104.4 Commandments in SSR 96-3p
§104.5 Commandments in SSR 96-4p
§104.6 Commandments in SSR 96-5p
§104.7 Commandments in SSR 96-6p
§104.8 Commandments in SSR 96-7p
§104.9 Commandments in SSR 96-8p
§104.10 Commandments in SSR 96-9p
§105 Duty to Research
§100 Social Security Disability Advocate’s Handbook 1-28
§100 Format and Purpose of This
This handbook gives Social Security disabil-
ity claimants’ representatives, attorneys and non-
attorneys practical ideas for applying the Process
Unification Rulings and other Social Security Rul-
ings in day-to-day representation of Social Security
disability claimants. Claimants’ representatives at all
levels of representation should use all of these tools,
including the Process Unification Rulings, in vigor-
ous pursuit of the rights of Social Security disability
claimants and beneficiaries.
Traver’s Social Security Disability Advocate’s
Handbook is intended to be used in conjunction with
the Internet. The Internet is an absolutely essential
tool in the advocate’s tool chest. As a result, hy-
perlinks are given to as many resources as possible.
Where there is a reference to a Social Security Rul-
ing or an Acquiescence Ruling, it is given with a hy-
perlink to the SSA website, or some other stable and
reliable Internet resource. Hyperlinks are not given
to the Code of Federal Regulations at the Social
Security Administration site because they are not
reliably updated there. Advocates should subscribe
to a reliable legal reference service such as Westlaw
or Lexis for such authorities. In addition, Google
Scholar is a free service that allows searching of case
law by Circuits or District Courts. It is available at
The appendices to this handbook contain sample
letters, forms, regulations, POMS and HALLEX sec-
tions, and vocational and other information supple-
menting the text of each of the following chapters.
§101 History of Process Unification
Perhaps because SSA is forever locked to an adju-
dication framework for disability determination, it has
been burdened with all of the inevitable limitations of
that framework. In 1994, SSA admitted the limitations
of its disability adjudication scheme included:
The time it takes for us to adjudicate some
disability claims,
The number of SSA and State agency em-
ployees who may be involved in processing
a claim initially and throughout the appeals
The lack of interaction between the claimant
and the decision maker, and
The lack of thorough explanations, in many
cases, of the basis for the disability determi-
Notice of proposed rulemaking, New Disability
Claims Process, 66 Fed. Reg. 5494-5507 (January
19, 2001).
In 1994, the methods to reach these goals would
Process Streamlining.
New position added to the initial level to act
as the claimant’s single point of contact.
Claimants better understand the program
and are more involved in the process.
Process Unification. Adjudicators at all
levels of the process would use the same
standards for decision-making to make cor-
rect decisions in an easier, faster, and more
cost-efficient manner.
Better use of the experience and expertise
of staff. New position added to support the
hearing process.
SSA History, “From program challenge to program
Half a decade later, SSA hoped someday:
To ensure that claims that should be allowed
are allowed at the earliest point in the process;
To provide more opportunity for claimant
interaction with the decision maker; and
To reduce the amount of time required pro-
cessing a claim to a final disability determi-
nation or decision.
Evaluation Report, Status of SSA’s Disability
Process Improvement Initiatives, Office of Inspector

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