GN DAL03360.025 Certification of Copies of Documents (TN 3 - 8/2003)
See GN 03360.025
SSA frequently receives requests for certified copies of documents. The documents need to be certified so that the copies can be admitted as evidence during a court hearing or similar matter. In most cases, the court hearing does not involve SSA. By certifying the documents, an appearance by an SSA employee is unnecessary.
A certified document or certification is basically a photocopy or extract of a file, sealed with a ribbon and the gold seal of the agency. This way, the document cannot be altered by anyone once it is certified.
Federal statutes (42 U.S.C. § 3505) provide that copies of any records or other documents in Social Security, when authenticated under the Agency seal, shall be admitted in evidence the same as if the originals were being admitted.
Requests for certified Medicare information should be directed to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the carrier.
District offices (DOs) frequently receive requests to complete an affidavit or deposition questions when producing a copy of a file. Under the revised Touhy regulations, affidavits testifying to the authenticity of documents are generally prohibited; see EM-010066REV, dated 4/18/01. Further, DOs are not the custodian of the record even though the file may be in your office. Instead, DOs should offer a certification.
A. Types of certified records
1. Certified Information from Earnings Records
Only Division of Earnings Record Office (DERO) prepares and processes certifications of earnings. An SSA-7050 with the appropriate fee and authorizing signature is required; see GN 03360.025D.1. The Dallas RO cannot certify any earnings data that are considered IRS documents; see GN 03360.025D, including the SEQY and DEQY.
2. Certified Photocopies of Social Security Records
Certain GS-15, or higher employees, in the ROs, PSCs, ODIO, and other CO components are empowered to certify a record or a part of a record for the courts. In the ROs, certification authority is given to the Regional Commissioners, Deputy Regional Commissioners, Assistant Regional Commissioners, Directors of ORQPA and the Center for Disability, the Chief Administrative Law Judge, and Deputy Directors of ORQPA.
B. District Office Responsibilities
In most cases, DOs should forward the requests certified copies to the SSA component having custody of the file (GN 03305.001C1 and GN 03340.010B). If, however, a subpoena has been received, the DO should NOT transfer the request but follow the instructions in GN R03330.015-DAL (dated 08/03).
Carefully review the consent form for compliance per GN 03305.001B2. If the consent does not meet the guidelines, the request is to be denied. If the consent does meet the guidelines and the DO is retaining control of the action, the FO should request the folder.
When the folder is received, the DO should:
Review the consent again to ensure compliance.
Policy on the release of information must be followed. In most cases, written consent is required; see GN 03305.001. If the NH consents to only the release of medical information, copy only the medical information. In addition, the NH normally cannot consent to the release of information about a spouse or minor children. Therefore, the information on any auxiliaries should not be photocopied.
Photocopy the requested portion of the file.
The file should only be copied on one side. DO NOT photocopy back to back, as it is too hard for the requester to review the file with the ribbon on it. Remember, though, to photocopy the front and back of all records. DO NOT staple the file into any separate forms or stacks, but leave as one big stack. DO NOT photocopy SEQYs, DEQYs, or any earnings data that are considered IRS documents; see GN 03360.025D. DO NOT include records pertaining to other living persons who records have not been authorized for release, e.g., information on spouses in couples' folders.
Attach a certification request form (or equivalent) to the file.
Please indicate a certified copy is necessary, a contact person in the FO, the time spent making the copies, the number of pages copied, the rate of pay of the individual who made the copies and any special information. A sample sheet is included in this transmittal that can be used but is not required. (Please photocopy as needed.)
Mail the original folder with the consent and any cover letters and the photocopy to:Social Security Administration
ATTN: Certification Request
MOS, Center for Disability, Room 670
1301 Young Street
Dallas, TX 75202-5433
C. Responsibilities of the Dallas Center for Disability (CfD)
The Dallas CfD will again review the consent form and notify the requester (the attorney or record service) of any problems.
If there are no problems, CfD will review the photocopy against the original file for completeness and disclosure provisions (e.g., child's claim, spouse's SSNs, etc.).
CfD will prepare the certification form SSA-473, and ensure that the ribbon and seal on the SSA-473 are prepared for the custodian's signature.
After the certification is signed, CfD will prepare the cover letter, and the bill on Form SSA-1723.
CfD will send the certification and the bill to the requester (unless the DO specifies otherwise) and return the folder to the DO, PSC, etc., as requested.
REQUEST FOR CERTIFICATION
TO: Social Security Administration Date:____/____/____
Center for Disability, Room 670
ATTN: Certification Request
1301 Young Street.
Dallas, TX 75202-5433
Please certify the photocopies of the attached file. Also attached are a copy of the request and the signed consent form that meets the requirements in GN 03305.001 (if applicable).
If you have any questions, please contact ____________________________
at phone number: (_____)_____-_____ Office: ____________________
• Number Holder's Name_____________ SSN____________________
• Has earnings data been removed from the file? Yes___ No___
(Earnings information (e.g., SEQYs) are IRS documents; the RO is not permitted to certify IRS documents. SSA-7050s are used to certify earnings information; see GN 03360.025D)
• Does the file pertain to more than one beneficiary/recipient?
(Remove and "sanitize" or obtain a second consent)
• Hours Spent to Photocopy _______________________
• Rate of Pay of employee doing the photocopying ______________
• Number of Pages Photocopied __________________
(Tip: Record the number of pages from the counter on the photocopier.)
• Record Service or Attorney's office made the photocopy
• Record Service or Attorney's office used their paper
The file should be returned to the DO ____________ Attention:_____________
The file should be returned to the PSC, Wilkes-Barre, etc. ______________
NOTE: The records and bill will be mailed to the requester (attorney, record service, etc.) by the Dallas CfD unless otherwise indicated. The Office of Finance in Central Office will follow-up on unpaid bills.)