TN 71 (07-23)

GN 00203.015 Considerations in Telephone Interviewing

A. Use of telephone interviewing

Telephone interviews conducted throughout the claims process, include:

  • pre-claims interviews,

  • claims taking,

  • claims development, and

  • post entitlement situations.

Conduct a telephone interview unless specifically excluded due to situations that justify the need for a face-to-face interview (see GN 00203.003B).

For information on when to use the telephone to conduct continuing disability reviews, see DI 13005.030 through DI 13005.040.

We provide face-to-face interviews for those who prefer that method (see GN 00203.003B) or where judgment or sound program administration calls for it.

B. Advantages to telephone interviewing

When you conduct a telephone interview, claimants save money and time and avoid the inconvenience of traveling to field offices. This is particularly true for those who are:

  • employed,

  • physically challenged,

  • ill, or

  • impoverished.

C. Pre-application interviewing procedures

Use the following guidelines when conducting a pre-application interview.

  1. a. 

    Identify yourself by giving your title (i.e., Mr., Mrs., or Ms.) and surname.

  2. b. 

    State that you are calling from SSA and explain the purpose of the call.

  3. c. 

    Follow established disclosure policies at all times to protect the confidentiality of the applicant, claimant, or beneficiary’s record.

    800 number agents, see TC 01005.000 General Instructions for Releasing Information and TC 01015.000 Disclosure from SSA Records.

  4. d. 

    See regarding an applicant's right to record an interview GN 00203.001B.3.

  5. e. 

    Ask the caller to provide the SSN. For auxiliary or survivors claims, ask for both the number holder's (NH's) SSN and the claimant's SSN.

    When the SSN is unknown, see information RM 00207.001.

    If the auxiliary or survivor has never had an SSN, see RM 10210.010 for evidence required for an SSN card.

    800 number agents, see:

    • TC 01001.030 Accepting Reports

    • TC 01005.020 Verifying the Identity of Callers

    • TC 01010.000 Access to SSA Records – Table of Contents, and

    • TC 01015.000 Disclosure from SSA records – Table of Contents

  6. f. 

    Distinguish intent to file a claim from other types of inquiries. Resolve any question about intent to file by assuming the caller wants to file.

  7. g. 

    Establish a protective filing on a caller's behalf, as appropriate. (See GN 00204.010 for requirements on protective filing; see GN 00204.003 for instructions on the proper applicant, and SI 00601.025 for SSI inquiries.)

  8. h. 

    Limit the conversation to essentials.

  9. i. 

    See face-to-face interviewing requirements GN 00203.003B.

  10. j. 

    Inform the claimant of the required proofs.

    • For Title II Claims

      800 number agents refer to Information/Proofs for Title II Claims, TC 10020.010.

    • For Title XVI Claims

      Use Form SSA-L8009-U3 (Request for SSI Information). 800 number agents, refer to Information/Proofs for Title XVI Claims, TC 10020.020.

  11. k. 

    Emphasize the claimant's responsibility to furnish proofs to support the claim. Suggest ways to get the information to SSA by telephoning, mailing, or bringing the proofs to the field office (FO) the same day.

  12. l. 

    When you schedule appointments, see GN 00203.009 through GN 00203.013 for various interviewing situations. Identify language barriers or special needs and annotate the CCLG (client language) or remarks screens, developmental worksheet screens, etc., with information such as Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing, etc.

    800 number agents follow TC 10010.020 for general rules for referrals and appointments.

D. Taking the Title II claim

When taking the Title II claim:

  1. a. 

    Verify the claimant’s identity. See GN 00203.020A for instructions, if necessary. If the applicant cannot provide identity data or provides discrepant identity data, see GN 00203.020A.4.

  2. b. 

    Complete as many of the questions on the application as possible.

  3. c. 

    Mail the application to the claimant for review if signed via attestation. If the claimant insists on signing the application via pen-and- ink, mail the application for signature and completion of any incomplete items with form SSA-L566 (SSA Application Development). The SSA-L566 provides check blocks for the type of evidence needed to establish entitlement.

  4. d. 

    When the claimant changes entries on the application or other form before the FO receives it, or changes or makes additions after they signed and filed it with the FO, follow GN 00205.015.

  5. e. 

    Give the claimant a receipt only after the claimant returns the signed application to the FO. ( for more information on furnishing the claim receipt and reporting sheet, see GN 00203.005C.4.)

1. Claims development and post entitlement interviews

To establish the identity of the claimant in claims development and post-entitlement interviewing situations, follow the procedure in GN 00203.020A.2.a.

2. Teleclaims process when SSN unknown

Obtain an Alphabetical Identification (ALPHIDENT) query to locate the SSN for the teleclaim whether the number holder is alive or deceased. Do not release the SSN on an appointment notice or on the teleclaim sent for signature. FOs and Workload Support Unit (WSU) should issue manual notices for these situations and delete the SSN. Block out the SSN on the teleclaim when sent for the applicant’s signature. You can release the SSN on the final allowance or denial notice.

3. Reporting instructions

Follow the instructions regarding claimants’ reporting responsibilities for both Title II and Title XVI claims in GN 00203.005.

4. Additional procedures for disability

Use the following additional procedures for disability interviews:

  1. a. 

    Obtain information regarding the claimant's condition, medical care, and work history.

  2. b. 

    Explain SSA's development and adjudicative practices, claimant's rights, and reporting responsibilities.

  3. c. 

    Arrange an office or home visit when it is too difficult to obtain the necessary information by telephone. Discuss the option of filing for Title II disability benefits using the Internet, when appropriate.

  4. d. 

    When mailing the appointment confirmation notice, send the appropriate Starter Kit, see DI 11005.018B.

  5. e. 

    Ask the claimant to submit any medical evidence they have with the application.

NOTE: Face-to-face interviewing may be required for initial continuing disability report (CDR), see DI 13005.030 - DI 13005.035.

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GN 00203.015 - Considerations in Telephone Interviewing - 07/27/2023
Batch run: 07/27/2023