TN 39 (05-12)

GN 00301.180 Identifying Claimants Who May Need Assistance

A. Assist the claimant with obtaining evidence

Tell the claimant what evidence we require, why we require it, and from where they should obtain it. If it is not clear whether certain evidence is obtainable, give the claimant acceptable alternative evidence.

When evidence is difficult for the claimant to obtain, Social Security Administration (SSA) will assist the claimant in obtaining evidence.

B. When claimants commonly need assistance

There are instances when a claimant cannot adequately handle obtaining evidence due to factors beyond his or her control. The lack of familiarity with common business, government practices or a complex case may frustrate claimants; therefore, SSA must offer assistance when necessary. In these instances, you should evaluate each claimant on a case-by-case basis to determine what type of assistance he or she may need.

Such instances often occur when the claimant:

  • cannot read or write

  • has limited education

  • is poverty stricken

  • has language difficulty

  • has a mental or physical condition, which severely interferes with his or her ability to be independent (e.g., advance senility or severe emotional disturbance).

C. Determining if the claimant needs assistance

Follow these guidelines to determine if a claimant needs assistance obtaining evidence.

  • Judge the claimant’s capacity in each situation to assure that he or she exercises his or her full rights and give assistance only when needed.

  • When in doubt about the claimant's ability to obtain evidence, provide assistance.

  • Provide help as early in the development of the claim as possible.

  • Assume the claimant needs assistance if he or she fails to provide medical evidence. For more information on obtaining medical evidence, see GN 00301.230.

  • Be alert to situations in which a representative payee for the claimant is unable or unwilling to provide all necessary assistance in obtaining evidence. In these cases, provide as much assistance as possible.

  • Make special efforts to protect the rights of children and incapacitated adults.

  • Make special efforts to assist claimants who are homeless or who have a terminal illness. For more information on Terminal Illness cases (TERI), see DI 23020.045.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200301180
GN 00301.180 - Identifying Claimants Who May Need Assistance - 05/22/2012
Batch run: 05/22/2012
Rev: