TN 3 (12-03)

GN 03350.010 Freedom of Information Act Appeals

A. Introduction

Any person whose FOIA request has been fully or partially denied may request review by the Commissioner of Social Security or designee.

B. Policy

1. Authority

The authority to decide appeals of FOIA requests, including fee waiver requests and requests for expedited processing, has been delegated to the Executive Director of the Office of Public Disclosure (OPD), Office of the General Counsel.

2. Time Limits

a. Time Limit to File an Appeal

An individual may appeal a partial or total FOIA denial by writing to the Executive Director of the Office of Public Disclosure within 30 days of:

  • Receipt of the denial notice, or

  • Receipt of records.

b. Time Limit to Decide an Appeal

  • SSA must issue administrative appeal decisions within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal.

  • SSA may use (for the same reason) any unused portion of the ten-day extension from the initial request. See 20 C.F.R. 402.200(b) and GN 03350.005A.3.b.

3. Court Review

a. U. S. District Court

A requester may seek further review of the agency decision in a District Court of the United States

b. Jurisdiction and Venue

The requester may file in:

  • District court where complainant resides,

  • or has principal place of business,

  • or where agency records are situated,

  • or the District of Columbia.

c. Court Requirements

  • Courts are no longer required to expedite FOIA lawsuits.

  • Courts may retain jurisdiction and grant the agency additional time to process requests in exceptional circumstances, or

  • Courts may deny the agency request for additional time if the requester shows exceptional need or urgency, and no longer consider predictable agency backlogs of FOIA requests as an acceptable reason to grant agencies additional time.

  • Courts may require agencies to submit withheld documents for review (in camera inspection) or to prepare an itemized list of withheld documents (Vaughan Index).

C. Procedure

  • Immediately send any FOIA appeal request (whether or not it appears to be timely) to the Executive Director, OPD.

  • OPD will control and develop the appeal and obtain any necessary clearances.

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GN 03350.010 - Freedom of Information Act Appeals - 12/16/2003
Batch run: 07/13/2012