TN 11 (09-10)
GN 00202.020 Processing Leads
A lead for Title II benefits, as defined in GN 00202.001, is a written or oral indication of potential entitlement where there is no intent to file by the party who furnishes the lead information.
A lead is disposed of when one of the conditions described in GN 00202.020G in this section applies.
All leads must be disposed of promptly to prevent a loss of benefits for proper applicants who are entitled. For the definition of proper applicants, see GN 00204.003 and SI 00601.012.
A. When further development may be needed
Further development may be needed if a child is filing or someone is filing on the child's behalf using the number holder's (NH's) Social Security number (SSN), but the child's parent does not wish to file for herself or himself even though she or he is eligible. Be sure to check for a natural legitimate parent-child relationship (see GN 00306.010).
If the NH’s spouse, former spouse, widow(er), or any other applicant who files a Title II application on behalf of his or her child with the NH also states that he or she thinks the NH may have a child in another household, but has no information about that child, pursue as a lead.
Do not deprive a child of his or her right to benefits due to neglect or lack of interest by a prospective payee in filing or furnishing evidence. Make all reasonable efforts to protect the interest of each child eligible for benefits.
Take an application whenever possible; and
Develop necessary evidence.
For more information about protecting the interests of a child, see RS 00203.050.
Dispose of a lead by following the development steps in GN 00202.020G in this section.
B. Spouse named on an application
1. Title II application
When a current spouse on the NH's application is potentially entitled to spouse's benefits, he or she is usually considered to have a protective filing, see GN 00204.010C.1. However, if the NH raises the issue and does not wish to protect the potentially entitled current spouse's filing date, treat the naming of the current spouse as a lead for potential Title II entitlement and process promptly to prevent a loss of benefits.
Pursue a lead if the spouse is not entitled to a spouse’s benefit but could be entitled to a benefit on another SSN.
You must pursue a potentially entitled divorced spouse named on the NH's Title II application as a lead. Information on marriage documentation procedures can be found in GN 00205.070C.
EXAMPLE: Sally Smith (NH) files for retirement benefits and states that she was married to Charlie Smith in 1958 and divorced in 1971. Sally states that Charlie is 66 years old. The information provided by Sally could be a lead for divorced spouse’s benefits for Charlie (BIC-BR) on Sally’s SSN. This is also a lead for Charlie on his own SSN if he has not already filed for retirement insurance benefits (RIB-BIC A). For contacting the proper applicant and documentation information, see GN 00202.020C and GN 00202.020H, both in this section.
2. When a Title XVI application is a lead
If a claimant states he or she does not intend to file for individuals (other than the claimant’s current and former spouses) named on his or her Title XVI application or redetermination (RZ) form, the application or RZ form establishes a lead for the named individuals who:
Are potentially eligible for Title XVI (e.g., blind, disabled, or within two months of age 65 or older); and
Live with the claimant (e.g., listed as household members).
A Title XVI or RZ form without the claimant’s statement that he or she does not intend to file for the named individual establishes a Title XVI protective filing date for the named individual per SI 00601.020A.2.
The scope of a Title XVI protective writing is determined by the application subsequently filed. For more information, see SI 00601.020A.4. and SI 00601.010D.
NOTE: A claimant’s naming current and former spouses on his or her Title XVI application or RZ form is a protective filing for the spouse who is blind, disabled, or within two months of age 65 or older, see SI 00601.020A.2.
C. Contact the potential applicant
Contact the potential proper applicant promptly to determine if he or she wishes to file.
NOTE: For instructions on independently-entitled divorced spouse (IEDS) lead development, refer to RS 00202.100B.5.
Determine if a protective filing is appropriate per GN 00204.010.
If so, document the protective filing date and follow the protective filing closeout instructions in GN 00204.012 for protective writings and SI 00601.037 for Title XVI oral inquiries.
If not, (e.g., the proper applicant states he or she does not wish to file for Title II benefits) follow the documentation requirements in GN 00202.020H in this section. Do not contact a potential proper applicant if you determine from SSA records that no current or future entitlement exists.
NOTE: Naming a child or potential spouse on a Title II application, usually establishes a protective filing. For more information, see GN 00204.010C.
D. Spouse’s benefit is potentially payable on a number holder’s (NH’s) record.
Potential entitlement exists for divorced spouses, or surviving divorced spouses who are full retirement age (FRA) or older, regardless of the benefit amount payable on their own SSN, since these applicants may restrict their applications to exclude retirement benefits (i.e., deemed filing does not apply). For more information on deemed filing, see GN 00204.020.
Take the following actions only when a spouse’s benefit is potentially payable on the NH’s record.
If the NH can only provide:
the spouse’s SSN, query our databases to determine potential eligibility on the NH’s record, possible contact information and, when deemed filing applies, entitlement on his or her own record. If you determine that no entitlement is possible, dispose of the lead and fully document all factors used to make your determination per GN 00202.020H in this section.
the spouse’s address, send a letter to the spouse asking him or her to call us because he or she may be eligible for benefits. If there is no response to the letter, dispose of the lead and document per GN 00202.020H in this section.
the spouse’s phone number, call the spouse. If not successful, query our databases for address information. If an address is found, send a letter to the spouse asking him or her to call us because he or she may be eligible for benefits. If no information is found, dispose of the lead and document per GN 00202.020H in this section.
the contact information for a relative (e.g. an adult child), call or send a call/come in letter (form SSA-2708) addressed in care of the relative. If no response, dispose of the lead and document all attempts to develop this information per GN 00202.020H in this section.
NOTE: A spouse is not protected when an abbreviated application is taken because no marriage information is asked of the NH (e.g., ABAP-R).
E. Attempts to contact or locate are unsuccessful or whereabouts unknown
If you are unable to reach the potential proper applicant by telephone, and have a mailing address, promptly send a call/come in letter (form SSA-2708).
If the call/come in letter is returned undeliverable, or you are unsuccessful in contacting or locating the potential proper applicant, dispose of the lead and document the steps taken per GN 00202.020H in this section.
F. If you receive an SSA-721, Statement of Death by Funeral Director
If you receive an SSA-721 that names a survivor of the deceased, follow the procedures in GN 00202.020G in this section to dispose of the lead, and follow GN 00202.020H in this section to document the development.
G. When to dispose of leads
A lead is disposed of:
after determining from SSA records that no current or future entitlement exists.
after contacting the proper applicant and determining that he or she does not wish to file.
after taking an application.
when you are unable to contact the proper applicant.
when a protective filing is established. For example when a protective filing stems from a lead or an appointment is established using iAppointments (see GN 00203.016).
To close out the protective writing, see GN 00204.012.
To close out the Title XVI oral inquiry, see SI 00601.037.
NOTE: It is important to distinguish between a lead and a protective filing. A protective filing for Title II benefits is a written indication of intent to file for benefits received by SSA per GN 00204.010.
H. How to document development and disposal of leads
Document development electronically whenever possible. Documentation should be made in the most applicable system (e.g., MDW, EVID, NDRED, DW01 and DW03 screen for MCS, DROC screen for MSSICS, etc.).
Document all attempts to contact or locate the potential proper applicant.
Document the outcome (e.g., unsuccessful attempts; the potential proper applicant’s decision is that he or she does not wish to file; or if you determine no possible entitlement exists).
Include in the documentation relevant information from the contact source where the lead was created, and any protective filing that results from the lead. For protective filing documentation, see GN 00204.010H.
NOTE: Once you record the source of the lead in an electronic system, destroy the related paper documentation.
Leads in the United States
RS 00201.001 Retirement Benefits – Entitlement Requirements
Leads outside of the United States
GN 00202.040 Application Leads Outside the United States
To determine entitlement to possible widow(er)'s benefits (WIB
RS 00202.100 Independently-Entitled Divorced Spouse
RS 00207.001 Widower’s Benefits Definitions and Requirements
For more information on electronic documentation and retention of the SSA-721
GN 00301.286 Electronic Evidence Documentation and Retention
For the policy on taking a separate Title II application when Title XVI is filed
SI 00601.035 Adjudicating Title II When a Title XVI application Is Filed
For the policy on Title VIII benefits if the claimant meets the eligibility requirements for Special Veterans Benefits
VB 00102.001 and VB 00102.010 Qualification Requirements and Residence Outside the United States
GN 00203.016 iAppointments (iAppt)