PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEMPart RS – Retirement and Survivors InsuranceChapter 014 – WagesSubchapter 03 – Wage EvidenceTransmittal No. 20, 02/06/2019
“This is a Quick Action Transmittal. These revisions do not change or introduce new policy or procedure”
Summary of Changes
RS 01403.005 Wage Evidence Policy
SSA became an independent agency on March 31, 1995. As such, HHS Secretary no longer applies and we replaced with Commissioner of Social Security in RS
01403.005B.4, and deleted HHS in RS
The likelihood of proving or establishing a fact.
Evidence with the highest probative value that can stand alone in establishing a fact.
Evidence with less probative value than primary evidence that generally needs corroboration from another piece of secondary evidence because of its lesser probative value. There are 2 types:
evidence of low probative value.
Evidence that agrees with, at least in part, and does not contradict, in any part, other evidence.
E/R is a broad term that applies to all earnings records data bases maintained by SSA, including the Master Earnings File (MEF) and other earnings files.
An SSA employee authorized to certify, analyze and evaluate wage evidence.
NOTE: This definition is only applicable to coverage and wage subchapters.
The Commissioner of Social Security has full power and authority to make rules and regulations to establish procedures providing for:
the extent of the proofs and evidence needed to establish what earnings are wages and tips for Social Security purposes; and
the amounts of such wages and tips that are to be posted to E/R's.
It is presumed that an individual's E/R being maintained by SSA is correct as posted.
This presumption also applies to the absence of postings, i.e., the absence of postings is evidence that no wages or tips were paid.
There are certain circumstances under which the presumption that the E/R is correct may be overcome.
The Commissioner has full authority to determine what evidence is sufficient to overcome the presumption of correctness and may subpoena evidence and/or testimony when necessary.
Evidence policy and procedure (see RS
01403.005D.) applies to preclaims and claims, lag and prelag, and correction/adjustment situations.
SSA E/R's (see RS
extracts of these E/R's (e.g., Summary Earnings Query (SEQY));
certifications of these E/R's (e.g., Full Claims Certified Earnings Record (FCER));
notifications of wage determinations (e.g., Form SSA-L573 Social Security Earnings Determination);
other primary evidence, not defined above (see RS
secondary evidence (see RS
earnings are posted to the wrong person's E/R (see RM
there is a question as to whether the earnings are wages or self-employment (see RS
for any other reason further development is appropriate (e.g., constructive payment of wages is alleged—see RS
01401.030 through RS
If it is known that primary evidence was used to establish a wage record, generally only another piece of primary evidence or two pieces of corroborative preferred secondary evidence may overcome the presumption of correctness.
Such evidence must convince the authorized SSA employee that the previous wage record is incorrect.
If the type of evidence used to establish the wage record is not known, follow the sequential development in RS
Develop evidence of wages (tips) in the following sequence (except as directed in RS
01403.005C.3.). Evidentiary evaluation (i.e., assessing the probative value) must take place for each piece of evidence regardless of the “number” of pieces of evidence obtained.
Obtain 1 piece of primary evidence.
wages (tips) are established.
go to Step 2
Obtain 2 pieces of preferred corroborative secondary evidence.
2 such pieces are obtained
1 piece is obtained or 2 pieces are not corroborative
go to Step 3.
no preferred secondary evidence is obtained
go to Step 4.
Obtain 1 piece of secondary evidence of lower probative value that corroborates preferred secondary evidence.
IF EVIDENCE IS:
prepare special determination to establish or disallow wages (tips) based on the relative probative value of the available evidence.
Obtain 2 pieces of corroborative secondary evidence of lower probative value.
evidence is obtained and corroborative; or evidence is obtained and is not corroborative; or only 1 piece of evidence is obtained.
go to Step 5.
no evidence is obtained.
no wages (tips) can be established.
Check evidence to see if amount(s) of wages (tips) and period(s) of employment are clearly identified.
only 1 piece is clear
prepare special determination to establish or disallow wages (tips) based on the relative probative value of available evidence.
go to Step 6.
Pursue development per RS 01403.061.
SSA may invoke its subpoena power where there is no primary or secondary evidence to substantiate the individual's allegations when:
wage/tips evidence is alleged to be in an employer's possession; and
the employer either refuses to cooperate or fails to acknowledge a second request from SSA (see RS 01403.035C.3.).
The decision to subpoena will be made by SSA in consultation with the Office of General Counsel.
See RS 01403.080 for submittals regarding possible subpoena use.
SSA must retain original, signed documents for 5 years after the date the document was signed.
The retention period of 5 years is sufficient for possible criminal prosecution under current law.
When the contents of an original, signed statement are transferred to an electronic record, the original statement must still be retained for 5 years.
All non-signature (i.e., not documents as in 3. above) documents not being returned to the individual, may be destroyed after the appeals period has transpired after all necessary information has been extracted for SSA use and possible redevelopment, if there have been no appeals.
EXCEPTION: Do not make or retain copies of Forms W-2/W-2c and Schedule SE used in lag situations, except as indicated in RS 01403.043C.3.
Further appeals extend destruction dates through these appeals periods.
As a courtesy to the individual, obtain his/her written consent to authorize contacts with third parties on his/her behalf.
This also applies to an individual's authorized representative or to his/her survivor.
Do not make any contacts without this consent, since some individuals do not want their employer informed of the claim.