As reported in the October 2022 issue of the Disability Law News, the Supreme Court has amended the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) to include new supplemental rules for Social Security Appeals. In addition to mandating the time allotted for filing briefs (30 days), the supplemental rules also instituted electronic service of process by plaintiffs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) announced a final rule this month related to those changes.
The Federal Register notice amends 20 C.F.R. §423.1, clarifying that electronic service will be accepted in accordance with the supplemental federal rule implemented on December 1, 2022. Once the plaintiff files a complaint, the district court will effectuate service by transmitting a “Notice of Electronic Filing” to the Office of General Counsel (OGC) and U.S. Attorney’s office. This practice will apply in all individual claims for benefits under title II, VIII, or XVI of the Act and individual claims for a Medicare Part D subsidy under title XVIII of the Act, including those in which the complaint is not filed electronically, presumably by pro se plaintiffs. Although some district courts within the Second Circuit were already using electronic service per their local rules, others were not. Advocates practicing in district courts that were still using “snail mail” service report the courts began to use the new procedure for cases filed after December 1st.
The notice also explains the recent reorganization of SSA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC), which has been centralized. The Regional OGC offices “no longer exist.” There are now five offices within OGC: the Office of Legal Operations (OLO), the Office of General Law, the Office of Privacy and Disclosure (OPD), the Office of Program Law, and the Office of Program Litigation. The mailing addresses of the former regional offices have been removed. Any communications with OGC should now be directed to the SSA or the Commissioner of Social Security and should be sent to the Office of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235. These communications include, for example, summonses and complaints to be served by mail in cases that do not involve claims described above such as cases under the Federal Tort Claims Act and requests for records and testimony.