GN DEN03360.025 Certifications of Copies of Documents and Extracts from Records (TN 12 – 11/2012)
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, but private parties. By certifying the documents, an appearance by an SSA employee is unnecessary.
A certified document (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.
Field offices frequently receive requests to complete an affidavit or deposition questions when producing a copy of a file. As this is considered to be testimony, which is not allowed without approval, and as the FOs are not the custodian of the record (even though the file may be in your office), FOs should offer a certification.
A. Types of Certified Records
Certified Information from Earnings Records – only the Office of Earnings Operations prepares and processes certifications of earnings. An SSA-7050 with the appropriate fee and authorizing signature is required (See GN 03360.025D.1). The Denver RO cannot certify any earnings information, including the SEQY and DEQY.
Certified Photocopies or Extracts of Social Security Records – The ROs, PSCs, ODIO, and other CO components are empowered to certify a record or an extract of a record. An extract provides information that would not be understood if the actual document was provided (e.g., an MBR, SSID, or PHUS would not be understood by a court, while a written explanation of a benefit payment would be quickly understood). In the ROs, certification authority is given to the Regional Commissioners, Deputy Regional Commissioners, Assistant Regional Commissioners, Directors of ORQPA and Deputy Directors of ORQPA.
B. Requests Received in the Field Office
In most cases, the FOs should handle the request as explained in GN 03305.003 and GN 03340.010B). If, however, a subpoena has been received, the FO should NOT transfer the request but follow the instructions in GN DEN03330.015 (dated 01/2005).
Carefully review the consent form for compliance per GN 03305.001B.2. If the consent does not meet the guidelines, the request is to be denied.
If the consent does meet the guidelines and the FO is retaining control of the action, the FO should request the folder.
When the folder is received, the FO should:
Review the consent again to ensure compliance. Remember that the consent for release of information must be followed. 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 or must be eradicated from the file.
Charge and collect the fee based on the current fee schedule. The FeebayNet program should be used to determine the fee and control for the receipt. Don’t forget to charge the $48 for the Regional Office certification as part of the total fee.
Once the fee has been received, 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.
Attach a short note to the file, indicating a certified copy is necessary, a contact person in the FO, when the fee was received and any special information. A sample sheet is included in this transmittal that can be used but is not required.
Mail the original file (with the consent and any cover letters) and the photocopy to: Social Security Administration
RSI Programs Branch
Room 460, 1001 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
ATTN: Debbie Sweeney
Regional Office Responsibilities
The Denver RO will again review the consent form and notify the requester (the attorney or record service) of any problems.
If there are no problems, the RO will review the photocopy against the original file for completeness and disclosure provisions (e.g., child’s claim, spouse’s SSNs, etc.).
The RO will prepare the certification and the cover letter.
The RO will send the certification to the requester (unless the FO specifies otherwise) and return the folder to the FO or PSC, as requested.
C. Requests for Certifications Received in Regional Office
Some requestors send the request for certification to the RO. In that situation the RO:
Will review the consent form to ensure compliance.
Charge and collect the fee based on the current fee schedule. The FeeBayNet program will be used and the record will be established under the servicing FO.
Will notify the servicing FO by email of the pending action.
The FO will control for receipt of the fee from the requestor. When received, notify Debbie Sweeney in CPS of the receipt by email or phone call at 303-844-5719. Process the fee in the normal manner. The RO will complete the certification and mail to the requestor.
REQUEST FOR CERTIFICATION
TO: Social Security Administration Date:
RSI Programs Branch
1001 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
ATTN: Debbie Sweeney
Please certify the photocopies of the attached file.
If you have any questions, please contact ________________________ at phone number: __________ Office:_________________________
Date Fee Received: ____________________
The file should be returned to the FO ____________________
The file should be returned to the PSC, Wilkes-Barre, etc. __________
The records will be mailed to the requester (attorney, record service, etc.) by the RO unless indicated.