TN 18 (08-13)
RS 02101.800 Coverage Development in Employer-Employee Cases
A. Using Form SSA-7160 (Employment Relationship Questionnaire) to develop employment relationship cases
1. What purpose does Form SSA-7160 serve in developing employment relationship cases?
Field offices (FOs) should use Form SSA-7160 to develop the issue of an employer-employee relationship, except where the worker is an officer of a corporation. We generally consider an officer of a corporation to be an employee of the corporation. Form SSA-7160 is a questionnaire that obtains information from the worker and the alleged employer to determine the worker's employment status under the common-law control test and the occupational group test.
We encourage FOs to use this form to gather comprehensive information to develop the employment relationship, then fax and store the SSA-7160, or other documentation, in the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRED). FOs may solicit information by other means, as long as they obtain complete facts.
2. Who should complete Form SSA-7160?
When possible, both the worker and the employer should complete the form, independently of each other. In some cases, FOs may assist the worker and the employer in completing the form to ensure that they fully understand the questions. The FOs should be helpful when assisting them without influencing their answers. The worker's and employer's answers should be in their own words and represent their own separate opinions.
Where possible, review the answers to the questions with the person who completes the form at the time he or she completes it to make sure that he or she answers all questions clearly and completely.
3. What am I looking for while reviewing the completed SSA-7160 forms?
Thoroughly review the completed forms, and all other evidence in the file. A thorough review at this stage can prevent re-contacts with the employer, the worker, or both.
When reviewing the completed forms, keep the following in mind:
Did the worker and the alleged employer provide complete answers to all relevant questions?
Is there a discrepancy between the worker’s and the alleged employer's answers?
Do the answers appear unlikely or improbable?
Do the answers present a realistic pattern?
Does the evidence represent the complete factual picture?
B. When employers direct and control the worker
A finding that an individual is an employee means the individual was subject to control over when, where, and how (the means and methods) to perform the work. This finding indicates that the employer has the right to direct and control the worker.
1. Worker’s employee status
We find a worker to be an employee when the majority of these conditions are met:
the employer furnishes the worker with tools or equipment and a place to work. (However, some artisans such as carpenters and plumbers usually provide some or all of their own tools.);
the employer may fire the worker;
the employer pays the worker's business or travel expenses;
the employer sets the work hours, requires that the worker work full-time, or restricts the worker from working for others;
the employer pays the worker by the hour, week, or month;
the worker does not hire, supervise, or pay assistants (unless employed as a foreman, manager, or supervisor);
the worker must perform the job personally; and
the worker receives training from the employer, or the worker must follow the employer's instructions.
2. Worker’s self-employed status
A worker is self-employed when he or she meets the majority of these conditions:
advertises his or her services to the general public;
may be liable for damages if he or she quits before completing the job;
makes a profit or suffers a loss;
pays his or her own expenses and provides the equipment and work place; and
works for a number of persons or firms at the same time.