GN KC03360.025 Certifications of Copies of Documents and Extracts from Records

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 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. This is considered testimony, which is not allowed without approval. In lieu of testimony, FOs should offer certification of the documents.

A. Types of Certified Records

  1. 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 Kansas City RO cannot certify any earnings information, including the SEQY and DEQY.

  2. 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. Field Office Responsibilities

In most cases, the FOs should forward the requests for certified copies to the National Record Center (NRC) per the instructions in the Folder Certification Project. If, however, a subpoena has been received, the FO should NOT transfer the request but follow the instructions in GN 03330.015.

Carefully review the consent form for compliance per GN 03305.003D. If the consent does not meet the guidelines, the request is to be denied.

If the consent does meet the guidelines, the FO should follow the steps outlined in the NRC Folder Certification Request User Guide.

If the request is for non-certified records, the FO should request the folder, if applicable. When the folder is received, or if an electronic file exists the FO should:

  • Review the consent to ensure compliance. If the NH consents to only the release of medical information, copy or print only the medical information. In addition, the NH normally cannot consent to the release of information about a spouse or minor children. Therefore, DO NOT photocopy or print the information on any auxiliaries.

  • Prepare and send an invoice using FeeBayNet. Upon receipt of payment, photocopy or print the requested portion of the file and mail to the requester.

C. Regional Office Responsibilities

  • The Kansas City RO will certify records associated with subpoenas, law enforcement, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and OIG requests. The RO will review the consent form and notify the requester of any problems.

  • If there are no problems, the RO will review the photocopy against the original file (when applicable) for completeness and disclosure provisions (e.g., child’s claim, spouse’s SSN, etc.).

  • The RO will prepare the certification and cover letter.

  • The RO will send the certification and the file back to the FO.

REQUEST FOR CERTIFICATION

Date:

To:    Social Security Administration

         Center for Disability and Program Support

         Regional Privacy Coordinator

         Room 1002

         601 E 12th Street

         Kansas City, MO 64106