TN 1 (07-03)

GN 06010.005 Providing Copies of the Law, Regulations, and POMS to the Public

A. Introduction

Beginning in January 2002, SSI notices tell claimants, beneficiaries, and their representatives that they can get copies of the sections of the law, regulations, and policy statements (e.g., POMS) that were used to make decisions on their SSI eligibility. This section explains the procedure for providing these copies.

This procedure will be used when an individual asks for copies of specific sections of the law, regulations, and POMS. This procedure does not apply if the individual requests a complete copy of the law, regulations, or POMS. For those requests, refer to GN 03360.040 for guidance.

B. Background

In September 1999, a U.S. District Court in New York held that SSI notices do not provide adequate explanations of SSI financial eligibility determinations. In accordance with the court's decision in Ford, et al. v. Apfel, SSA is developing numerous enhancements to automated SSI notices. One of the enhancements is the statement on SSI notices that claimants and beneficiaries can get copies of the law, regulations, and POMS pertinent to determinations about their SSI eligibility and benefit amount from their local field office.

Claimants, beneficiaries, and their representatives have always been able to get copies of the law, regulations, and POMS. But because of the revised language in SSI notices, FOs may see an increase in the frequency of these requests.

C. Policy

SSA will provide free copies of the sections of the Social Security Act, the regulations, and the POMS that pertain to the issues that the individual is questioning. The copies may be requested by the individual or the individual's representative.

Do not provide copies of POMS sections that SSA has identified as “sensitive materials.” See GN 03360.040C.5. for instructions for handling a request for sensitive materials.

D. Procedure—General

When an individual or the individual's representative requests a copy of the legal basis for an SSA decision:

  • determine which issues the individual is questioning (e.g., resource denial, reduction in benefits due to change in living arrangements, suspension for excess income, etc.);

  • explain SSA's determination to the individual if he or she requests an explanation;

  • determine if the individual wants a POMS section, the regulations, the law, or a combination;

  • locate and print the sections requested following the procedure in E. below;

  • mail the copied sections to the individual with a cover letter as described in G. below (or provide the copied sections immediately, if feasible);

  • inform the individual that a request for copies is not a request for an appeal. Explain what he or she must do in order to file an appeal.

NOTE: Individuals with access to the Internet may prefer to obtain this information on their own. Inform them that they can find this information on the SSA Online site at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssi/law-regs-finder.htm .

E. Procedure—Linking To The Law, Regulations, or POMS

Follow these steps to get copies of the Social Security Act, the regulations, or POMS:

  1. Go to SSA Online, http://mwww.ba.ssa.gov/ssi/ssi-law-regs.htm .

  2. On the SSI Law and Regulations page, choose one of 4 options:

    • Click on “Law” to open the table of contents for Title XVI of the Act. From here you can select specific sections of the Act to print.

    • Click on “Regulations” to open the table of contents for the regulations. From here you can select specific sections of the regulations to print.

    • Click on “Law and Regulations Finder” to view a summary of laws and regulations organized by topic. From here you can select specific sections of the regulations to print.

    • Click on “Program Operations” to open the table of contents for the POMS. From here you can select specific sections of the POMS to print.

NOTE: You also can print copies of POMS sections from PolicyNet.

F. Exhibit - Language For Cover Letter

An automated version of this letter is available on DPS. TSCs may use the pre-printed SSA-1690 instead of the DPS letter.