TN 2 (01-17)

GN 03314.120 Disclosure Without Consent to State and Local Protective Social Services Agencies

A. Disclosure policy

1. Disclosure when the Social Security Administration (SSA) suspects abuse or neglect

SSA and Disability Determination Services (DDS) employees may encounter situations in which a child or other vulnerable person may be the victim of neglect or abuse. For example, staff may observe a physical attack on a child, or see a child with unexplained serious bruises or other injuries.

a. What may be disclosed

In these cases, SSA may disclose the name and address of the alleged victim,

and the reason(s) why we suspect abuse, to the appropriate State or local protective social service agency. SSA should disclose only the minimal information necessary to make the report. The State can then decide whether to pursue the matter and whether to request additional information from SSA.

Disclosure of the above-referenced information is permissible based on the health maintenance and income maintenance routine use cited in the following systems of records:

  • 60-0058—Master Files of Social Security Number (SSN) Holders and SSN Applications System,

  • 60-0089—Claims Folders System,

  • 60-0090—Master Beneficiary Record,

  • 60-0103—Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits, and

  • 60-0320—Electronic Disability Claim File.

5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(3); 20 C.F.R. § 401.150.

If the information to be disclosed originated in a system of records other than those listed here, the disclosure may be made based on the health and the safety exception to the Privacy Act of 1974 and notice of the disclosure must be provided to the individual whose record is disclosed. 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(8); 20 C.F.R. § 401.160. For more information about making disclosures under the health and safety exception to the Privacy Act, see GN 03316.135.

b. Who May Disclose the Information

  1. SSA

    Except as authorized in GN 03314.120A.1.b.3) in this section, field office (FO) and other SSA employees should not make a direct report of suspected abuse or neglect to the appropriate State or local agency, without first consulting with the appropriate management official(s).

    FO employees who become aware of potential abusive situations should consult with FO management, followed by the Regional Office, before reporting allegations.

  2. DDS

    DDS employees should refer the situation to DDS management, who should refer the situation to the regional Privacy Act Coordinator (PAC). Except as authorized in GN 03314.120A.1.b.3) in this section, or expressly authorized by DDS management, DDS medical consultants and consultative examiners may not make direct reports of SSA information concerning suspected abuse or neglect situations, even when State law requires them to do so. The Privacy Act and SSA’s disclosure regulations govern disclosure of information pertaining to consultative examinations performed for SSA, rather than State law and policy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 401.20(b)(iii), 404.1631. Thus, DDS medical consultants and consultative examiners must consult with DDS management who will request the regional PAC’s guidance concerning these disclosures.

  3. Exception for SSA or DDS employees subject to Federal Reporting Obligations

    Certain individuals are subject to a duty to report suspected child abuse under Federal law, 42 U.S.C. § 13031. This duty applies to individuals “who, while engaged in a professional capacity or activity described in subsection [13031(b)] on Federal land or in a federally operated (or contracted) facility, learns of facts that give reason to suspect that a child has suffered an incident of child abuse.” Covered professionals under subsection