[Federal Register: July 22, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 140)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 47694-47695]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



29 CFR Part 4003

RIN 1212-AA97

Rules for Administrative Review of Agency Decisions

AGENCY: Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

ACTION: Final rule.


SUMMARY: The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (``PBGC'') is 
amending 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.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 22, 2002.

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.)

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On March 27, 2002 (at 67 FR 14663), the PBGC 
published a proposed rule that would authorize a single member of 
PBGC's Appeals Board to decide routine appeals. The PBGC received no 
comments in response to the proposed rule and is issuing the final 
regulation without change.
    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 final rule authorizes any one 
member of the Appeals Board to act for the Board in routine cases as 
described in the rule. The PBGC will 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.

Compliance With Rulemaking Requirements

    As a rule of agency organization, procedure, or practice, this rule 
is exempt from notice and public comment requirements. 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, 
    The PBGC has determined that good cause exists to dispense with the 
delayed effective date provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act 
as unnecessary. These amendments affect only the PBGC's processing of 
appeals and do not require any person other than the PBGC to take any 
action. Accordingly, the PBGC has decided to make these amendments 
effective immediately.
    This rule is not a ``significant regulatory action'' under the 
criteria set forth in Executive Order 12866.

[[Page 47695]]

List of Subjects in 29 CFR Part 4003

    Administrative practice and procedure, Organization and functions 
(Government agencies), Pension insurance, Pensions.

    For the reasons set forth above, the PBGC is amending 29 CFR part 
4003 as follows.


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

    Authority: 29 U.S.C. 1302(b)(3).

    2. Add new Sec. 4003.61 to read as follows:

Sec. 4003.61  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 
    (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 

    Issued in Washington, DC, this 16th day of July, 2002.
Elaine L. Chao,
Chairman, Board of Directors, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
    Issued on the date set forth above pursuant to a resolution of 
the Board of Directors authorizing its Chairman to issue this final 
James J. Keightley,
Secretary, Board of Directors, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
[FR Doc. 02-18373 Filed 7-19-02; 8:45 am]