BASIC (04-07)

DI 23045.001 Translation of Foreign-Language Documents

A. Policy - Translators

1. Need for a Translator

Disability determination services (DDSs) may receive medical evidence of record (MER) and other documents that are written in a foreign language. These documents must be carefully evaluated by an authorized translator for accuracy, validity, and authenticity (see GN 00301.330B.). Generally, any foreign-language document used for a disability determination must have an English translation for the file (see DI 23045.001B.2.)

EXCEPTION: Spanish documents in cases processed by the Puerto Rico DDS or the Puerto Rico disability processing unit (DPU) do not have to be translated into English because all components that review or process cases adjudicated by that DDS or DPU have employees who can read and understand Spanish.

2. Authorized Translators

The definitions of authorized Social Security Administration (SSA) translators and non-SSA translators are contained in GN 00301.340. DDS employees and contract medical or psychological consultants (MCs/PCs) in DDSs and SSA components who function as translators, and who are authorized in accordance with GN 00301.345, are considered authorized SSA translators.

NOTE: DDS employees should NOT use any internet translator websites. Employees who attempt to access one of these sites will receive a warning when attempting to access internet based websites.

3. Authorization of SSA Translators

DDS managers are responsible for authorizing DDS translators. Refer to GN 00301.345 for the authorization process. SSA component managers are responsible for authorizing contract MC/PC translators.

4. Responsibilities and Duties of Translators

The responsibilities and duties of authorized translators are explained in GN 00301.335.

B. Policy - Translations

1. Translation of Foreign-Language Documents

The DDS examiner or disability hearing officer should obtain a translation from an authorized translator in the DDS who is proficient in the foreign language involved. If a DDS translator is not available, request the services of an authorized translator from another source (see GN 00301.355).

NOTE: The translator should sign every translation and provide as much of the following information as possible: type and date of document, issuing source, language involved, and whether the document appears to be genuine and unaltered, and to have been made at the time purported.

2. Translation Requirements

The DDS must obtain a verbatim translation of the individual’s complete medical history, as defined in DI 22505.001A.3., and any other relevant medical and nonmedical evidence. However, translation of the complete medical history does not have to be completed if the translator is an authorized SSA translator and has the expertise (e.g., the translator is a disability examiner, disability hearing officer, or medical or psychological consultant) to determine that the evidence that already has been translated indicates that a fully favorable determination can be made, and there is no conflicting evidence in the remaining untranslated documents that must be resolved. The translator should make a notation indicating that there is no conflicting evidence in the remaining documents.

Documents that are not relevant to the determination do not have to be translated if the authorized SSA translator has the expertise (i.e., the translator is a disability examiner, disability hearing officer, or medical or psychological consultant) to determine which documents are not relevant. However, the translator should provide a summary or description of the untranslated documents and explain why the documents are not relevant to the determination.

Non-SSA translators generally lack the necessary expertise to determine whether the evidence is relevant or conflicting and must, therefore, do a verbatim translation of all the documents identified for them by the DDS. The DDS may specify that only evidence covering a certain period of time should be translated.