TN 1 (09-91)
GN 03360.045 Privacy Act Administration - Time Limits
1. 10-Day Time Limit - FOIA
The FOIA requires that a decision to disclose or withhold be made within 10 working days of receipt of requests and the requester be notified immediately of the decision. The 10-day time period begins when the official who will answer receives the request.
If a written request is to be denied, the FO sends request to the FOI Officer in CO for a response.
Form SSA-3179, “Freedom of Information Request,” (see GN 03360.999, Exhibit 4) should be used to keep track of the time taken to answer the request. (See GN 03301.015 for authority to disclose under the FOIA.)
A requester who has received a refusal to disclose may file an administrative appeal, which requires an answer within 20 working days. A dissatisfied appellant may pursue his/her claim in the appropriate U.S. District Court.
2. Interim Reply
We recognize that sometimes a claims folder is in transit, in storage, or where we are unable to determine its location.
In such cases, when we are temporarily unable to determine whether we, in fact, have a requested record, the processing center may advise the requester that:
the record is in transit, and we will be in touch when the record reaches its destination, or
we have not yet located the record but will be in touch as soon as the record is located.
Under no circumstances should this interim reply be used to circumvent the time requirements of the FOIA for response.
These interim replies should not be used when one of the reasons for the 10-day extension provided by the FOIA applies (see 3. below).
3. Extension of Time Limits
The time limits for a decision on an initial request for information under the FOIA or an appeal of a denial of such a request may be extended an additional 10 working days when:
The records are maintained in a facility other than the office processing the requests (e.g., an FRC);
A large volume is requested at one time; or
Another agency having a substantial interest must be consulted before making a determination.
An extension may be used at either the initial or the appeal level, but not both. Any balance of the 10 extension days not used on the initial request, however, may be used later at the appeal level. In no case may the total extension (initial and appeal) exceed 10 working days.