SSA is extending until August 2, 2019, this program that enables cases with deserving records to take shortcuts to fully favorable decisions after hearing requests. 83 Fed. Reg. 28992. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2018-06-22/pdf/2018-13359.pdf
The program permits “some attorney advisors to conduct certain prehearing proceedings and issue fully favorable decisions when the documentary record warrants doing so.” If a case is reviewed by an attorney advisor and not granted a fully favorable decision, it stays in the rotation for hearing by an ALJ.
SSA “originally intended the attorney advisor program to be a temporary modification to our procedures. Therefore, we included in sections 404.942(g) and 416.1442(g) of the interim final rule a provision that the program would end on August 10, 2009, unless we decided to either terminate the rule earlier or extend it beyond that date by publication of a final rule in the Federal Register. Since that time, we have periodically extended the sunset date (see 74 FR 33327 extending to August 10, 2011; 76 FR 18383 extending to August 9, 2013; 78 FR 45459 extending to August 7, 2015; 80 FR 31990 extending to August 4, 2017; and 82 FR 34400 extending to February 5, 2018). As we noted above, the current sunset date for the program is August 3, 2018.”
Apparently the Social Security Administration has recently asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to approve final regulations to make the attorney advisor program permanent. So stay tuned for the next chapter in this ongoing drama.