TN 13 (11-11)

GN 01010.820 Assistant Regional Commissioner (ARC), Management, Operations and Support (MOS) Action on Request for Legal Opinion

A. Procedure for requesting a legal opinion

Upon receipt of the request for a legal opinion, fully review the provided information to decide whether you need an opinion. After review, follow the procedures below.

1. Opinion is not necessary

If no opinion is necessary (e.g., if resolved, the issue would not affect the adjudicative decision), return the request to the originating component with an appropriate explanation and ensure that the claim is adjudicated properly.

2. Opinion is available

If a pertinent opinion is available and there is no question about its continued applicability, cite the opinion per GN 01010.810, ensure that the claim is adjudicated accordingly, and advise the requesting component.

3. Opinion is not available

If no pertinent legal opinion is available but it is needed, ensure that all claims actions for claimants not affected by the legal question are complete before requesting the opinion.

a. State Law

If no precedent opinion exists, take the following actions:

  • Review the information and if the state in question is not within the jurisdiction of the requesting component (see GN 00305.001), forward the request to the ARC, MOS or his or her designee for the region in which the state is located.

  • If the state involved is within the jurisdiction of the requesting component, approve and submit the request for an opinion to the corresponding Regional Chief Counsel (RCC) and include the following language in the submittal:

“Please forward a copy of your response by e-mail as a WORD attachment to the Office of PolicyNet and Program Support (OPPS) using the following e-mail address: ^Regional Attorney Opinions.”

  • Provide an informational copy of the submittal to the originating component and maintain a copy in the claims file.

  • If the request concerns a possible amendment to a state law which appears in the POMS (e.g., small estate statue, state law on legitimation, etc.), ask the RCC to provide appropriate language for a new POMS entry and the effective date of the change if appropriate.

b. Federal Law

  • Approve and submit the requests for interpretation of federal law to the Office of Disability and Income Security Programs (ODISP).

  • Provide an informational copy to the originating component and maintain a copy in the claims file.

c. Foreign Law, the number holder (NH) domiciled in a foreign country

  • Approve and submit the request through the Office of International Policy (OIP) to the Office of General Council (OGC) and include the following language in the submittal:

“Please forward a copy of your response by e-mail as WORD attachment to the Office of PolicyNet and Program Support (OPPS) using the following E-Mail address: ^Regional Attorney Opinions.”

  • Provide an informational copy to the originating component and maintain a copy in the claims file.

d. Foreign Law, the NH is not domiciled in a foreign country

If an issue involves a foreign law but the NH is not domiciled in a foreign country or was not residing in one at the time of death:

  • Approve and submit the question to the RCC in the region where the NH is or was domiciled and include the following language in the submittal:

“Please forward a copy of your response by e-mail as WORD attachment to the Office of PolicyNet and Program Support (OPPS) using the following E-Mail address: ^Regional Attorney Opinions.”

  • Provide an informational copy to the requesting component and maintain a copy in the claims file.

4. Other RCC referrals

The following situations are not considered requests for legal opinions within the meaning of this subchapter but should also be approved and forwarded to the appropriate RCC:

  • Compromise offers regarding an overpayment (see GN 02410.210);

  • Bankruptcy documents (see GN 02215.200C); and

  • Questions regarding a Cour