Rule 1. Review of Social Security Decisions Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(a) Applicability of These Rules. These rules govern an action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for review on the record of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security that presents only an individual claim.
(b) Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure also apply to a proceeding under these rules, except to the extent that they are inconsistent with these rules.
Rule 2. Complaint
(a) Commencing Action. An action for review under these rules is commenced by filing a complaint with the court.
(1) The complaint must:
(A) state that the action is brought under § 405(g);
(B) identify the final decision to be reviewed, including any identifying designation provided by the Commissioner with the final decision;
(C) state the name and the county of residence of the person for whom benefits are claimed;
(D) name the person on whose wage record benefits are claimed; and
(E) state the type of benefits claimed.
(2) The complaint may include a short and plain statement of the grounds for relief.
Rule 3. Service
The court must notify the Commissioner of the commencement of the action by transmitting a Notice of Electronic Filing to the appropriate office within the Social Security Administration’s Office of General Counsel and to the United States Attorney for the district where the action is filed. If the complaint was not filed electronically, the court must notify the plaintiff of the transmission. The plaintiff need not serve a summons and complaint under Civil Rule 4.
Rule 4. Answer; Motions; Time
(a) Serving the Answer. An answer must be served on the plaintiff within 60 days after notice of the action is given under Rule 3.
(b) The Answer. An answer may be limited to a certified copy of the administrative record, and to any affirmative defenses under Civil Rule 8(c). Civil Rule 8(b) does not apply.
(c) Motions Under Civil Rule 12. A motion under Civil Rule 12 must be made within 60 days after notice of the action is given under Rule 3.
(d) Time to Answer After a Motion Under Rule 4(c). Unless the court sets a different time, serving a motion under Rule 4(c) alters the time to answer as provided by Civil Rule 12(a)(4).
Rule 5. Presenting the Action for Decision
The action is presented for decision by the parties’ briefs. A brief must support assertions of fact by citations to particular parts of the record.
Rule 6. Plaintiff’s Brief
The plaintiff must file and serve on the Commissioner a brief for the requested relief within 30 days after the answer is filed or 30 days after entry of an order disposing of the last remaining motion filed under Rule 4(c), whichever is later.
Rule 7. Commissioner’s Brief
The Commissioner must file a brief and serve it on the plaintiff within 30 days after service of the plaintiff’s brief.
Rule 8. Reply Brief
The plaintiff may file a reply brief and serve it on the Commissioner within 14 days after service of the Commissioner’s brief.
2022 Advisory Committee Note
Actions to review a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) have been governed by the Civil Rules. These Supplemental Rules, however, establish a simplified procedure that recognizes the essentially appellate character of actions that seek only review of an individual’s claims on a single administrative record, including a single claim based on the wage record of one person for an award to be shared by more than one person. These rules apply only to final decisions actually made by the Commissioner of Social Security. They do not apply to actions against another agency under a statute that adopts § 405(g) by considering the head of the other agency to be the Commissioner. There is not enough experience with such actions to determine whether they should be brought into the simplified procedures contemplated by these rules. But a court can employ these procedures on its own if they seem useful, apart from the Rule 3 provision for service on the Commissioner.
Some actions may plead a claim for review under § 405(g) but also join more than one plaintiff, or add a defendant or a claim for relief beyond review on the administrative record. Such actions fall outside these Supplemental Rules and are governed by the Civil Rules alone.
The Civil Rules continue to apply to actions for review under § 405(g) except to the extent that the Civil Rules are inconsistent with these Supplemental Rules. Supplemental Rules 2, 3, 4, and 5 are the core of the provisions that are inconsistent with, and supersede, the corresponding rules on pleading, service, and presenting the action for decision.
These Supplemental Rules establish a uniform procedure for pleading and serving the complaint; for answering and making motions under Rule 12; and for presenting the action for decision by briefs. These procedures reflect the ways in which a civil action under § 405(g) resembles an appeal or a petition for review of administrative action filed directly in a court of appeals.
Supplemental Rule 2 adopts the procedure of Civil Rule 3, which directs that a civil action be commenced by filing a complaint with the court. In an action that seeks only review on the administrative record, however, the complaint is similar to a notice of appeal. Simplified pleading is often desirable. Jurisdiction is pleaded under Rule 2(b)(1)(A) by identifying the action as one brought under § 405(g). The Social Security Administration can ensure that the plaintiff is able to identify the administrative proceeding and record in a way that enables prompt response by providing an identifying designation with the final decision. In current practice, this designation is called the Beneficiary Notice Control Number. The elements of the claim for review are adequately pleaded under Rule 2(b)(1)(B), (C), (D), and (E). Failure to plead all the matters described in Rule 2(b)(1)(B), (C), (D), and (E), moreover, should be cured by leave to amend, not dismissal. Rule 2(b)(2), however, permits a plaintiff to plead more than Rule 2(b)(1) requires.
Rule 3 provides a means for giving notice of the action that supersedes Civil Rule 4(i)(2). The Notice of Electronic Filing sent by the court suffices for service, so long as it provides a means of electronic access to the complaint. Notice to the Commissioner is sent to the appropriate office. The plaintiff need not serve a summons and complaint under Civil Rule 4.
Rule 4’s provisions for the answer build from this part of § 405(g): “As part of the Commissioner’s answer the Commissioner of Social Security shall file a certified copy of the transcript of the record including the evidence upon which the findings and decision complained of are made.” In addition to filing the record, the Commissioner must plead any affirmative defenses under Civil Rule 8(c). Civil Rule 8(b) does not apply, but the Commissioner is free to answer any allegations that the Commissioner may wish to address in the pleadings.
The time to answer or to file a motion under Civil Rule 12 is set at 60 days after notice of the action is given under Rule 3. If a timely motion is made under Civil Rule 12, the time to answer is governed by Civil Rule 12(a)(4) unless the court sets a different time.
Rule 5 states the procedure for presenting for decision on the merits a § 405(g) review action that is governed by the Supplemental Rules. Like an appeal, the briefs present the action for decision on the merits. This procedure displaces summary judgment or such devices as a joint statement of facts as the means of review on the administrative record. Rule 5 also displaces local rules or practices that are inconsistent with the simplified procedure established by these Supplemental Rules for treating the action as one for review on the administrative record.
All briefs are similar to appellate briefs, citing to the parts of the administrative record that support an assertion that the final decision is not supported by substantial evidence or is contrary to law.
Rules 6, 7, and 8 set the times for serving the briefs: 30 days after the answer is filed or 30 days after entry of an order disposing of the last remaining motion filed under Rule 4(c) for the plaintiff’s brief, 30 days after service of the plaintiff’s brief for the Commissioner’s brief, and 14 days after service of the Commissioner’s brief for a reply brief. The court may revise these times when appropriate.