Among other things, HALLEX I-5-3-21 describes the purpose of, and procedures for, attorney advisors in the National Adjudication Team (“NAT”). These attorneys select cases for review to see if they can be decided favorably on-the-record without the need for a hearing. The goal was to reduce the backlog of cases the Social Security Administration is experiencing at the hearing level.
There is no downside to your disability claim being transferred to the NAT. Either a fully favorable decision will be issued, or the case will be sent back to your local hearing office. I received such an approval today for a former teacher’s assistant.
The real question is what is the advantage of the NAT over hiring other attorney advisors or administrative law judges (“ALJs”) for the local hearing offices. It would seem more efficient for a local office that is already somewhat familiar with the case to screen out cases for OTRs. Thus, it would seem to make more sense to hire more attorney advisors and ALJs for local hearing offices, unless the number of claims meeting NAT criteria are too small at most hearing offices.