TN 7 (12-12)
NL 00601.003 Name, Title, and Signature on Notices
A. Notice signature policy background
Prior to 1985, Social Security Administration (SSA) notices did not display an official’s signature, except for the Commissioner’s signature on title II award notices and title XVI cost-of-living adjustment notices. In 1985, in an effort to personalize our notices and communicate more effectively, we began to display signatures on additional notices. We revised our signature policy again in 1987 to require that all SSA notices display the signature, name, and title of an appropriate SSA line official.
On August 4, 2011, due to increased threats and hostile actions directed toward the SSA officials whose names appear on denial or adverse action notices, the Commissioner of Social Security (COSS) issued a decision stating: “The display of a name, title, and signature of a responsible line official is not required in the signature block of SSA notices. On notices without a name, title, and signature, a general legend is required in the signature block.”
B. Notice signature policy
All notices contain a signature block at the end of the notice. We include either a signature of an SSA official or the general legend “Social Security Administration” in the signature block.
We display a signature when:
the COSS requests a signature,
the law requires a signature, or
the policy component or head of an office decides to display a signature.
We display the general legend whenever we do not display a signature.
EXCEPTION: A signature block does not appear on some informational and form notices, self-mailers, questionnaires, attachments, and internal communications (e.g., SSA-L1157-U2DI Social Security Notice Disability; SSA-1587-SM Beneficiary Recontact Report; SSA-865 Disability Instruction Notice; and Recovery and Collection of Overpayment Process (RECOOP) Remittance Installment letters). We do not require a signature or general legend on informational and form notices, self-mailers, questionnaires, attachments, and internal communications types of forms.
C. When to use a signature or the general legend – central office (CO) procedures
Follow the guidelines in this section for what to display in the signature block on notices. For notices not specified below, the CO policy component responsible for the content of the notice decides whether a notice system or a notice will display the general legend or a name, title, and signature of an SSA official. The CO policy component decides whether a notice system or a notice will display the general legend or a name, title, and signature of an SSA official in collaboration with operations, legal, and systems components, based on legal sufficiency, safety concerns, resource considerations, and the type of notice(s) involved.
1. Display the COSS’ signature
The COSS' signature will appear in the signature block on:
all completely automated awards;
cost-of-living adjustment notices; and
other notices at the COSS’ discretion.
After the appointment of a new COSS, update all notices that display a COSS signature with the new COSS’ signature within 90 days.
2. Display the signature required by law
In some situations, the law requires that we display a signature on a notice. Some notices that continue to require a signature are:
SSA-L2001 Address Information Request sent to the United States Postal Service (USPS). Per USPS regulations, 39 C.F.R. § 265.6, each request form submitted to USPS must contain the signature and title of the head of the SSA office requesting the information (e.g., District Manager, Processing Center Director).
Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) notice packages sent to employers per Treasury regulation 31 C.F.R. § 285.11. The relevant part of this regulation states, “The withholding order shall contain the signature of, or the image of the signature of, the head of the agency or his/her delegate.”
3. Display the general legend
Unless a notice displays the COSS’ signature or a signature required by law, we will normally display notices with the general legend, “Social Security Administration,” in the signature block.
4. Display of other SSA official’s signatures
In infrequent situations, a notice may display the name, title, or signature of an SSA official other than the COSS. For example, the policy component may want to display a name, title, or signature on notices that authorize payment, verify information, or offer useful services.
The policy component responsible for the content of the notice will decide which other SSA official’s name, title, and signature to display.
D. When to use a signature or the general legend--field office and processing center procedures
Follow these guidelines for what to display in the signature block on locally and manually prepared notices.
1. Display the general legend
Unless required by law, when the field office or processing center issues notices, the notice will normally display the general legend, “Social Security Administration” in the signature block.
2. Display the signature of the head of the office
Display a signature on locally and manually completed notices only in the following situations:
Display the signature of the head of the office on notices issued in the field office or processing center when required by law. For examples of notices that require a signature, see NL 00601.003C.2. in this section.
The head of an SSA office (e.g., District Manager, Processing Center Director), at his or her own discretion, decides to display his or her own signature on a manual notice.
E. When to use a signature or the general legend—disability determination services procedures
Follow these guidelines for what to display in the signature block of disability determination services (DDS) notices.
1. Display the general legend
Display the general legend on decision notices sent from the DDS.
2. Display a DDS signature
At the discretion of DDS management, DDS may display a DDS signature on notices. For example, DDS may display the signature of disability examiner on developmental correspondence.
F. Signature block format and font
Use the following format to display the general legend or the name, title, or signature in the signature block of a notice.
1. Format for the general legend
Use a Script MT Bold 16 font to display the general legend, “Social Security Administration.” Display the Spanish translation for Spanish notices, “Administracion del Seguro Social.”
2. Format for name, title, and signature
Use a Times New Roman or Century Schoolbook 12 font to display the name and title. The signature may be handwritten or a digitized image.
The format for the name, title, and signature is:
Signature of SSA Official;
Name of SSA Official; and
Title of SSA Official (e.g., Commissioner of Social Security, Regional Commissioner, Associate Commissioner for Disability, Manager).
For placement of the notice signature block, see NL 00610.060J. For information about the margins and spacing of the signature block, see NL 00610.070C.6.