TN 32 (08-11)

DI 39527.050 DDS Office Space Allocation Guide

A. Introduction of SSA and DDS guidelines for space allocations

The purpose of this section is to define and describe the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) guidelines for Disability Determination Services (DDS) space allocation. These guidelines relate to the physical location of the building, the space occupied in the building, acceptable sizes (i.e., square footage) of specific areas and rooms located in the space, and the process for acquiring the space. While use of the guidelines ensures a quality work environment, the DDS needs to follow state leasing guidelines.

B. DDS organization and functions

DDS offices are State agencies that operate in partnership with SSA. They evaluate and process claims for title II and title XVI disability benefits. Staff includes:

  • disability adjudicators or examiners who gather medical and other records and process cases in accordance with SSA rules and guidelines;

  • a variety of administrative and support employees;

  • information technology specialists; and

  • physicians and psychologists working as medical consultants.

C. Building criteria and location in the community

Consider visitor access, public transportation access, visibility, safety, adjacent uses, amount and location of parking, and amenities such as landscaping, views, and walking distance to open space. Consider sustainability and energy use, including use of technologies, products and practices that provide greater energy efficiency and reduce pollution, provide healthier indoor air qualities, reduce water usage, and preserve natural resources.

1. Space planning and financing

Subject to appropriate federal funding, the State provides adequate space for personnel responsible for making accurate and prompt disability determinations. Per 20 CFR 404.1623 , SSA funds 100% of the DDS facility costs. Space planning (new space, modifications, or expansion of existing space) must be coordinated with SSA. Submit Request for Proposal (RFP) documents or facility plans for approval to the SSA Regional Office (RO), Center for Disability.

RO and Central Office (CO) approve all DDS moves.

SSA or its contractors provide specific requirements for electrical and computer wiring specifications, or other general aspects of facility construction (e.g., security requirements, etc.).

2. Physical protection and building security

Space must meet the existing physical protection and building security standards, as outlined in DI 39567.010.

D. Definitions

1. Nonusable space

Nonusable space is space not conducive to a working environment. It includes but is not limited to:

  • restrooms,

  • stairways,

  • elevator shafts,

  • heating and air conditioning space, and

  • interoffice space (e.g., hallways and building corridors).

Nonusable space must be sufficient to provide unobstructed access.

2. Net office space

Net office space consists of the gross space available minus the nonusable space.

3. Administrative support space

Administrative support space is space used for:

  • storage of forms, supplies, publications, etc.,

  • multipurpose areas, and

  • dedicated scanners and computers.

4. Multipurpose areas

Multipurpose areas have various uses. These include but are not limited to space for:

  • specialized equipment including scanners and computer servers,

  • filing cabinets, confidential shredding bins, and shredding machines,

  • mail activities,

  • employee lunch and break periods,

  • computer training room,

  • a reception area,

  • an interviewing area, and

  • video service delivery equipment.

5. Intra office movement space

Intra office movement space is the amount of space in excess of the basic DDS space requirements.

6. Employee

The term, “employee,” means all personnel working in the DDS, including full-time and part-time personnel, contracted personnel, and any other personnel permanently assigned to the DDS (e.g., personnel working in the DDS but paid through indirect costs).

E. General policy for DDS space allocation

The following criteria represents SSA’s space standard for DDS offices. Use this standard in conjunction with state laws and guidelines.

1. Nonusable office space

Do not consider nonusable space in the DDS in considering present and future DDS space needs. Nonusable office space must not exceed 15 percent of the total basic DDS space requirement.

2. Use in decentralized location

The space allocation formula applies to each decentralized location separately.

3. Growth factor

Consider long-term and recent workload trends when determining if a growth factor is necessary. If you determine that a growth factor is over 15 percent, CO must approve the space requirements.

4. Total space per employee

The maximum total allowable space is 150 square feet per employee. If circumstances require DDS space above this ratio, SSA requires justification for approval.

F. Procedure for space allocation formula

1. General space allocation considerations

  • Use net office space in the space needs calculations.

  • Consider the types of positions, plus expansion, when determining space needs.

  • Apply the guidelines to decentralized DDSs separately.

2. Total employee square footage allocations

Use the following square footage allocations as a guideline for each employee according to the following positions.


Total Square Feet

Director, DDS


Assistant or Deputy Director


Program Director or Manager


Unit Supervisor


Technical Consultant and Systems Specialist


Hearing Officer


Quality Assurance Specialist


Vocational Specialist


Claims Examiner (adjudicator)


Clerks and other support positions


Chief Medical Consultant


Full-Time Medical Consultants and Part Time Medical Consultants (electronic claims adjudication makes it more difficult for consultant to share space)


3. Administrative support, conference, and training space

Give the following considerations to non-personnel space allocations.

  • Provide space based on the number of employees.

  • Determine the number of rooms needed to accommodate various functions based on the needs of the particular DDS.

Use the following guidelines in assessing space needed for conferences, training, and administrative support (e.g., reception area multipurpose areas, etc.).

Allowable Square Feet


Basic Allowable Square Feet

Additional Allowable Square Feet

Reception Area


+ 2 sq ft per employee

Multipurpose Area


+ 4 sq ft per employee

Conference Room


+ 8 sq ft per employee (none if 10 employees or fewer)



+ 4 sq ft per employee (none if 10 employees or fewer)



4 sq ft per employee

Video Service Delivery (VSD) and VSD Equipment Storage


+ 1/2 sq ft per employee

Multi-function Clerical Space


+ 1/2 sq ft per employee

4. Use the following guidelines for office equipment


Square Feet


 40 per Copier

File Cabinets

7  per file cabinet

DDS should purge files and surplus cabinets prior to relocating.

5. The computer room

The size of the computer room should equal the minimum space recommended for existing equipment plus space for expected equipment acquisitions.

6. Intra office movement space

Compute the allowable square footage, not to exceed 15 percent of the basic DDS space requirements.

7. Growth factor considerations

Apply the appropriate growth factor to determine the yearly and maximum change in office space.

See DI 39527.050, Space Allocation for Decreasing and Increasing Workloads.

G. Reference

DI 39527.055, Exhibit - Worksheet for Assessing Adequacy of DDS Office Space

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
DI 39527.050 - DDS Office Space Allocation Guide - 08/05/1996
Batch run: 08/04/2011