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Proposed Rule

Rules for Administrative Review of Agency Decisions

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION:

Proposed rule.

SUMMARY:

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (“PBGC”) is proposing to amend its regulation on Administrative Review of Agency Decisions to expedite the appeals process by authorizing a single member of the PBGC's Appeals Board to decide routine appeals.

DATES:

Comments must be received on or before May 28, 2002.

ADDRESSES:

Comments may be mailed to the Office of the General Counsel, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, 1200 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20005-4026, or delivered to Suite 340 at the above address. Comments also may be sent by Internet e-mail to reg.comments@pbgc.gov. Copies of comments may be obtained by writing the PBGC's Communications and Public Affairs Department (CPAD) at Suite 240 at the above address or by visiting or calling CPAD during normal business hours (202-326-4040).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Harold J. Ashner, Assistant General Counsel, or Thomas H. Gabriel, Attorney, Office of the General Counsel, PBGC, 1200 K Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005-4026; 202-326-4024. (TTY/TDD users may call the Federal relay service toll-free at 1-800-877-8339 and ask to be connected to 202-326-4024.)

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Under the PBGC's regulation on Administrative Review of Agency Decisions (29 CFR part 4003), persons aggrieved by certain PBGC determinations may appeal to the PBGC Appeals Board, defined as “a board consisting of three PBGC officials.”

The PBGC has been studying its administrative appeals process to see how it can accelerate appeals processing while continuing to protect the rights of appellants. Experience has shown that many appeals involve simple factual issues or call for application of well-settled legal principles. The PBGC believes that cases that do not raise a significant issue of law or a precedent-setting issue can be properly decided by a single Appeals Board member, thereby expediting the appeals process. Accordingly, this proposed rule would authorize any one member of the Appeals Board to act for the Board in routine cases as described in the rule. The PBGC would continue to use 3-member panels for cases that involve a significant issue of law or a precedent-setting issue. This would include, for example, a benefit determination appeal in which the decision is expected to affect the benefits of other persons.

The PBGC invites public comment on this proposal.

Compliance With Rulemaking Requirements

As a rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice, this rule is exempt from the notice and public comment and delayed effective date requirements of section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act. However, because the PBGC wishes to provide an opportunity for public comment, this rule is being published as a proposed rule.

Because no general notice of proposed rulemaking is required, the Regulatory Flexibility Act does not apply to this rule. See 5 U.S.C. 601(2), 603, 604.

This rule is not a “significant regulatory action” under the criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

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List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 4003

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For the reasons set forth above, the PBGC proposes to amend 29 CFR Part 4003 as follows.

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PART 4003—RULES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW OF AGENCY DECISIONS

1. The authority citation for part 4003 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 29 U.S.C. 1302(b)(3). Start Printed Page 14664 2. Add new § 4003.61 to read as follows:

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Action by a single Appeals Board member.

(a) Authority to act. Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, any member of the Appeals Board has the authority to take any action that the Appeals Board could take with respect to a routine appeal as defined in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) Routine appeal defined. For purposes of this section, a routine appeal is any appeal that does not raise a significant issue of law or a precedent-setting issue. This would generally include any appeal that—

(1) Is outside the jurisdiction of the Appeals Board (for example, an appeal challenging the plan's termination date);

(2) Is filed by a person other than an aggrieved person or an aggrieved person's authorized representative;

(3) Is untimely and presents no grounds for waiver or extension of the time limit for filing the appeal, or only grounds that are clearly without merit;

(4) Presents grounds that clearly warrant or clearly do not warrant the relief requested;

(5) Presents only factual issues that are not reasonably expected to affect other appeals (for example, the participant's date of birth or date of hire); or

(6) Presents only issues that are controlled by settled principles of existing law, including Appeals Board precedent (for example, an issue of plan interpretation that has been resolved by the Appeals Board in a decision on an appeal by another participant in the same plan).

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Issued in Washington, DC, this 20th day of March, 2002.

Steven A. Kandarian,

Executive Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

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[FR Doc. 02-7297 Filed 3-26-02; 8:45 am]

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