SSA discloses information when required by Federal law and does not disclose when
prohibited by law. When disclosure is neither required nor prohibited by law, we look
to the FOIA and PA.
While the FOIA covers all records maintained by a Federal agency, from a practical
standpoint most personal information is disclosed under the PA. Therefore, we usually
look first to see if the requested information is in a PA system of records. If so,
we determine if either the access provision of the PA or one of the 12 exceptions
to prohibiting disclosure would apply.
If the request does not meet the criteria of the PA, a determination must still be
made as to whether the information must be released under the FOIA. The FOIA requires
that the information be released unless one of nine exemptions allows the Agency to
withhold the information.
NOTE: The exceptions that permit SSA to disclose information under the PA and the exemptions
of the FOIA that permit an agency to withhold information are discussed later in this