[Federal Register: March 27, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 59)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 14663-14664]
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: 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-

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: 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.

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 proposes to amend 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).

[[Page 14664]]

    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 20th day of March, 2002.
Steven A. Kandarian,
Executive Director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation.
[FR Doc. 02-7297 Filed 3-26-02; 8:45 am]