You will often get a more direct answer to a question if you start your own thread rather than add to an old one.
Most of these responses are clearly from the forum's welcome committee......that's what they do. Their forum id's do not denote that they are experts on Social Security law.
Those of us who post in the SS forum regularly do try to answer questions if we are online and see the question AND if we know the answer. If we don't know the answer, we might just want to offer our support.
I was hesitant before to respond to this thread before because I know little about what happens when the Appeals Council is involved. I am fairly confident, though, in saying the ALJ is required to read the Appeals Council recommendation. The ALJ doesn't have to AGREE with that recommendation.
Gee, this looks like a great place to sit and have a picnic with my yummy bone !