TN 1 (09-91)

GN 03360.040 Public Access to Staff Manuals

A. Background

The FOIA requires the following materials that affect members of the public be made available at all times for inspection and copying.

  • all administrative staff manuals and instructions.

  • final opinions and orders made in the adjudication of cases,

  • statements of policy and interpretations adopted by SSA but not published in the Federal Register (e.g., Commissioner's Decisions and Social Security Rulings).

B. Policy - FO Responsibilities

FOs must keep up-to-date copies of the materials which the public may access. These materials are listed at GN 03360.040H.1. and GN 03360.040H.2. below. It is not necessary to keep a special copy for the public to inspect. A working copy may be used.

See GN 03360.020 above for instructions on copying records.

C. Procedure - Materials in FOS

1. Inspection of Materials

Do not permit members of the public to remove materials from the inspection area.

Do not attempt to explain or interpret any of the materials made available unless the person in charge of the inspection and copying service is technical personnel or management, e.g., claims representative or operations supervisor. Refer individuals requesting assistance to a claims representative.

When an office receives a request for materials which are not maintained by that office but are listed in the Indexes of Administrative Staff Manuals and Instructions (IASMI), obtain the requested material from the appropriate CO or RO component. (Request operations manuals and Commissioner's decisions from OPI, CO.)

If the request is for copies of materials maintained in other FOs, ask the other FO by telephone to make copies and mail them either to your FO or directly to the requester, depending on the arrangement you have made.

If the requester merely wants to inspect a manual and it is not feasible for him/her to go to the office maintaining the manual, the requesting office and the office that has the manual should make their own arrangements for transferring either the manual itself or copies of it to the office closest to the requester. (See E. below for use of Form SSA-1723-U4.)

2. When Nonreceipt is Reported

If nonreceipt of copies is reported:

  • Inform the requester that 21 working days must elapse from the date the request was referred to another component before SSA can try to trace the request.

  • Prepare a photocopy of the requisition, if 21 working days have elapsed and the materials have not yet been received,

  • Mark it “DUPLICATE REQUEST” in red in the upper right-hand corner of the form, and

  • Resubmit in the prescribed manner without requesting payment of a fee.

3. Maintenance of Records Request

If the SSA-1723-U4 has been referred to another FO, CO, or another component of HHS to furnish the material, the originating office will:

  • Retain a copy of the requisition for a period of 90 calendar days.

  • Destroy the form if no inquiry or followup is received within the 90-day period.

  • Do not retain a copy if the request is filled by the FO.

4. Forwarding Fee

See GN 03360.020.3. for instructions on charging fees.

When an FO receives a fee, complete an SSA-1395-BK (Receipt and Transmittal Form) (see GN 02403.055 for instructions on completing the Form SSA-1395-BK) and an SSA-414-U3 (Refund Transmittal Register) (see GN 02403.060 for instructions on completing the Form SSA-414-U3). The original and first copy of the SSA-414-U3 and the original SSA-1395-BK receipt will be forwarded with the fee to:

  • Office of Financial Operations
    P.O. Box 17042
    Baltimore, Maryland 21235

OFO will acknowledge receipt of the fee by signing and returning the first copy of the SSA-414-U3 to the originating FO.

5. Sensitive Materials - FOIA Exemptions

Withhold sensitive portions of certain publications under FOIA Exemption 2, which refers to matters that are “related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the Agency.”

Refer to the POMS Comprehensive Index which annotates all sensitive materials. Any request for sensitive material should be sent to the FOI staff.

To provide a coordinated national response to FOIA requests for sensitive instructions, forward all requests to the following CO address:

  • Office of Public Affairs
    Office of Public Inquiries
    4100 Annex
    6401 Security Boulevard
    Baltimore, Maryland 21235
    Attention: Freedom of Information Officer

This procedure should avoid any inadvertent disclosures of sensitive materials. Forward the request to the above address without delay so that the requester can be notified in writing within 10 days whether SSA will comply with the request.

D. Description of SSA-1723-U4

Form SSA-1723-U4 (Requisition and Receipt for Technical Materials and Instructions):

  • provides the public with a receipt for requests and fees paid, and

  • establishes an SSA record of the material provided.

See GN 03360.999, Exhibit 1.

E. Procedure - SSA-1723-U4

1. Completion of SSA-1723-U4 by FO

When a request is filled by an SSA FO, complete a Form SSA-1723-U4 if the request is for more than 75 photocopied pages or for combined costs of more than $7.50 for copies (10 cents per page) and/or preprinted pages (1 cent per page).

The clerk in charge of the information and copying service will complete all parts of the SSA-1723-U4 as follows:

  • Enter the name and address of the requester in the address box and the SSA office code on the line provided.

  • Check the action block showing that materials have been provided by the FO.

  • Enter the source document and the chapter in the description section of the form.

  • Enter the number of pages provided in the column headed “No. of Pages.”

  • Enter the amount of the fee in the “Amount” column.

  • Complete the receipt section by entering the required information in all boxes. Give the requester the appropriate copy of the SSA-1723-U4.

  • Attach the money order or check (made payable to the Social Security Administration) to the CO copy with a clip. Mail the remittance, CO copy of the SSA-1723-U4, SSA-414-U3, and SSA-1395-BK to:

    • Office of Financial Operations

      P.O. Box 17042

      Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401

2. Referral to CO

If request is to be referred to CO, complete all parts of the SSA-1723-U4 as stated in GN 03360.040E.1. above except:

  1. Check the box to indicate the material has not been provided and indicate the component responsible for the material, as identified in the IASMI.

  2. Do not accept payment and do not complete the receipt portion of the SSA-1723-U4.

  3. Mail the CO, requester, and requisition copies of the SSA-1723-U4 to the CO component responsible for the requested material.

  4. Advise the requester that he/she will be informed of the fee by CO and that upon receipt of the fee, the materials will be mailed to him/her.

  5. Retain the SSA office copy for 90 days.

3. Referral to Another HHS Component

If request is to be referred to another component of the Department:

  1. Enter the name and address of the requester in the address box and the SSA office code on the appropriate line.

  2. Check the request referral box and enter the name of the component to which the request is to be referred.

  3. Enter a description of the material requested in the space provided for this purpose.

  4. Do not complete any other parts of the form.

  5. Do not accept any payment. Advise the requester that he/she will be informed of the fee by the component having custody of the material or by the regional information center.

  6. Mail the first three copies of the SSA- 1723-U4 to the component responsible for the requested material. Retain the SSA office copy for 90 days.

4. Completion of SSA-1723-U4 by CO

If a CO component receives a request directly from a member of the public and the request has been filled, the component fills out an SSA-1723-U4 as directed in E.1. above. Add a new action block and check to show that the materials have been furnished by the CO component. Send the SSA-1723-U4 with the remittance to:

  • Office of Financial Operations

    2200 Annex

5. Disposition of Form

  1. Refer the original of the SSA-1723-U4 to CO with the fee as described below (see Exhibit 1).

  2. Send requester's copy to the requester.

  3. Retain the SSA office copy in the office furnishing the material.

NOTE: Do not complete an SSA-1723-U4 if no fee is collected to indicate that no requests have been received.

F. Policy - Forwarding FEES

If forwarding of receipts and fees on a weekly basis is impractical because the amounts to be submitted are so small, they may be forwarded at the end of the month, rather than weekly. In no case should the fees collected by held in the FO longer than 1 month, or more than 1 week after $10 has been collected.

G. Policy - Maintaining Manuals in FOs

Even though they do not have to maintain manuals other than those listed here for FOIA purposes, FOs should not ask to be taken off the mailing lists for other manuals. Distribution is set to provide for field review of appropriate instructions.

H. List of Manuals Maintained By FOs

Listed below are manuals maintained by FOs.

1. Available in All FOs

  • Compilation of Social Security Laws

  • Computation and Benefit Tables

  • Indexes of Administrative Staff Manuals and Instructions (IASMI) (Distributed as a separate manual, with quarterly updates, by the Office of Policy, Technical Documents Branch)

  • Program Circulars (RSI/DI/HI/SSI/PI/General Series-including regional circulars)

  • POMS (see GN 03360.040C.5. for exceptions)

  • SSA Privacy Act Notices of Systems of Records

  • Service Area Directory

  • Social Security Handbook

  • Social Security Regulations

  • Social Security Rulings

  • SSA AIMS

  • CMS Medicare Participating Physicians/Suppliers Directory (MEDPARD)

2. Material Available in FOs

The following material is available in FO's as determined by RO's:

  • CMS Health Insurance Materials

  • HHS Organizational Manual - maintained in regional library or offices designated by the region.

  • Handbook for State Social Security Administrators - offices parallel to the State Social Security Administrator.

3. Publications Available From GPO or NTIS

Individuals occasionally request full reprinted copies of:

  • Compilation of Social Security Law

  • Regulations

  • Rulings

  • Social Security Handbook

Requesters will be advised that the documents may be purchased from:

  • Superintendent of Documents

    U.S. Government Printing Office

    Washington, D.C. 20402

or,

  • National Technical Information Service

    U.S. Department of Commerce

    5825 Port Royal Road

    Springfield, VA 22161

4. Materials Available in ODAR Field Offices

The following materials are available in ODAR field offices:

  • Compilation of Social Security Laws

  • Hearings, Appeals, Litigation and Law (LEX) Manual (HALLEX)

  • HHS Privacy Act Regulation (45 C.F.R. Part 5b)

  • HHS Public Information Regulations 45 C.F.R. Part 5)

  • Social Security Regulations

  • Social Security Rulings

  • Title 5 United States Code, Supplement

5. Materials Available in CMS ROs

The following materials are available in CMS RO's:

  • Carrier Quality Assurance Bulle