GN 03316.001 Disclosure Without Consent to Administer Social Security Administration (SSA) Programs and Other Miscellaneous Disclosures
This subchapter contains policy and procedures regarding disclosure of personal information to administer SSA programs. This subchapter also includes miscellaneous disclosures, such as disclosure relating to health and safety situations, the Commissioner’s ad hoc disclosure authority, and disclosures to consumer reporting agencies.
GN 03316.005 Disclosure Without Consent to Administer Social Security Administration (SSA) Programs
The Privacy Act (5
552a(b)(1) ) allows disclosures of personal information within SSA to officers and employees who need the information to perform their duties.
SSA officers and employees must adhere to established standards of conduct when accessing, using, and disclosing personal information in our records. Section 1.5 of the Overview of Information Security and our disclosure regulations, 20 C.F.R. Part 401,
A , explain the rules of behavior for users and managers of information resource.
B. State Disability Determination Service (DDS) role in SSA disclosures under Sections 221 and 1633 of the Social Security Act (Act)
For the purpose of making disability determinations under sections 221 and 1633 of the Act, our disclosure regulations define "Social Security Administration" as including State DDS units (see 20
C.F.R. § 401.25). State DDSs are bound by and must comply with our confidentiality and disclosure requirements. See our regulations at 20 C.F.R. §
404.1631 and 20 C.F.R. §
416.1031 for more information.
State DDSs may disclose information to third parties, as necessary, to carry out the disability determination functions under sections 221 and 1633 of the Act, consistent with our regulations and written guidelines. States DDSs should not make decisions to disclose SSA information for purposes unrelated to the disability determination function unless:
DDS is specifically authorized in this POMS chapter or the DDS Security Manual to disclose information, or
DDS receives authorization from an SSA regional office (RO) to disclose information.
An SSA RO may approve arrangements for a DDS to disclose information to other State agencies when:
we have the authority to disclose information to that State agency, and
the State agency agrees to abide by our confidentiality and re-disclosure requirements, via a data exchange agreement negotiated between SSA and the State agency, allowing the DDS to provide information to the State agency.
C. Disclosures to Federal, State, and local agencies and third parties for program purposes
We established routine uses under the Privacy Act that allow us to disclose personal information to Federal, State, and local agencies and private entities, as necessary, to administer our programs and responsibilities under the Act.
The disclosures relate to determining initial and continuing entitlement to, or eligibility for, benefits under the programs we administer under the Act. When necessary, we may disclose non-tax return information and tax return information to third parties in order to administer our benefit programs. You can view a full listing of all our system of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
Examples of allowable disclosures to third parties for program purposes include releases of the following information:
verifying an individual’s entitlement to or eligibility for benefits;
verifying an individual’s capability to manage his or her benefit payments;
verifying information provided by representative payees or representative payee applicants;
locating an individual in connection with an SSA program matter when his or her address is unknown;
verifying Social Security numbers (SSN) for employers for wage reporting purposes;
disclosing wage reports to employers or former employers to reconstruct wage records submitted to SSA;
disclosing information to social security agencies of foreign countries with which we have entered into international social security (totalization) agreements to adjudicate claims filed under the United States or foreign social security system, and for carrying on other SSA or foreign program-related activities;
disclosing non-tax return information to medical and vocational consultants to prepare for, or perform consultative examinations or vocational assessment of individuals applying for, disability benefits under sections 221 and 1633 of the Act;
processing an individual’s application for an SSN;
conducting investigations of fraud and other criminal abuse in our programs; and
reporting the activities of persons that pose a risk to the safety and security of SSA employees, customers, and facilities to appropriate law enforcement officials.
GN 03316.020 Disclosure Without Consent to Administer Social Security Administration (SSA) Programs Outside the United States (U.S.)
Our Office of Earnings and International Operations (OEIO), Division of International Operations (DIO) is responsible for administering the Social Security program abroad, with the exception of the Special Veterans Benefit (SVB) program under Title VIII. Central processing sites (CPS) and field offices (FO) have collaborative responsibility for administering the SVB program whose beneficiaries reside abroad. Since we have no offices outside the U.S., the following agencies assist OEIO, DIO, CPS and FOs in these responsibilities by providing their facilities and services:
Department of State (DOS) foreign service posts in various foreign countries;
Department of Veterans Affairs, Regional Office - Manila, Philippines, and other parts of the Asia-Pacific region; and
American Institute in Taiwan, a private corporation under contract to DOS in Taiwan.
We may disclose relevant non-tax return and tax return information to these agencies from any systems of records that has a routine use permitting the disclosure to these agencies for purposes of administering our programs. You can view a full listing of all of our system of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
GN 03316.040 Disclosure Without Consent to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
We may disclose information to DHS, USCIS, as necessary, to verify the authenticity of immigration documents submitted by aliens as evidentiary documentation when processing aliens' applications for Social Security numbers (SSN) or claims for benefits. We may disclose information pertaining to the identity of the alien and documentation provided by the alien.
We complete verifications via the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program either online (by an online SAVE query).
See RM 10210.210, RM 10214.110, RM 10214.170, and other sections of RM 10200.000 for comprehensive procedures concerning verifying evidentiary documentation submitted by aliens.
See GN 03313.095 for more information on disclosure to the DHS.
GN 03316.045 Disclosure Without Consent to Federal, State, or Local Law Enforcement Agencies, or Contract Security Entities
A. Disclosure to prosecute alleged violations of standards of conduct governing Federal employees relating to misuse of digital lock systems, electronic card systems, or similar devices
We may disclose information to Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating, prosecuting, enforcing, or implementing a statute, rule, regulation, or order when Social Security Administration (SSA) information relating to digital lock systems, electronic card systems, or other electronic access devices concerning access to our facilities indicates a possible violation of civil or criminal statutes or alleged violations of Standards of Conduct governing Federal employees.
We may disclose relevant information from system of records, 60-0270—Records of Individuals Authorized Entry into Secured Areas by Digital Lock Systems, Electronic Key Card Systems or other Electronic Access Devices.
B. Disclosure to protect the safety of SSA employees and facilities
We may disclose information to appropriate Federal, State, or local law enforcement agencies, or contract security entities, when necessary, to protect the safety of SSA employees and customers; the security of the SSA workplace and the operation of SSA facilities; or to assist investigation or prosecution activities that affect such safety and security or disrupt the operations of our facilities. Many of our systems of records contain a routine use allowing disclosure of relevant information to protect SSA employees and facilities. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
GN 03316.055 Disclosure Without Consent to State Bureaus of Vital Statistics (BVS)
A. For enumeration purposes or to determine benefit entitlement or eligibility
We may disclose information to a State BVS to obtain information relevant to enumeration, entitlement, or eligibility under programs we administer under the Social Security Act. We may disclose information under the routine use cited in a number of systems of records, including but not limited to the following:
60-0058—Master Files of Social Security Number (SSN) Holders and SSN Applications;
60-0090—Master Beneficiary Record; and
60-0103—Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits.
As an example, we may disclose information to a State BVS to obtain information that establishes an individual’s age or marital relationship (e.g., a birth record or marriage license).
B. To prepare electronic death reports
We assist many States in implementing the Electronic Death Registration (EDR) process. At the front-end of the EDR process, we verify the SSN submitted by the State BVS. After the State BVS obtains the SSN verification, the State BVS provides SSA the death report connected with the verified SSN. When SSA obtains the death report connected to the verified SSN, we are able to immediately terminate benefits without independently verifying the accuracy of the report.
NOTE: We provide SSN verifications to State BVSs electronically via agreements between SSA and the BVSs.
GN 03316.060 Disclosure Without Consent to State Social Security Administrators
Under section 218 of the Social Security Act (Act) (42 U.S.C. § 418), a State may request the Commissioner of Social Security to enter into an agreement to extend Federal old-age, survivors, disability, and health insurance coverage to groups of employees of the State and its political subdivisions. We may disclose relevant non-tax return information, for the administration of agreements pursuant to section 218 of the Act, from the following systems of records only:
60-0090—Master Beneficiary Record; and
60-0320—Electronic Disability (eDib) Claim File.
See GN 03314.115 for more information regarding disclosure to state Social Security Administrators.
GN 03316.065 Disclosure Without Consent to General Third Party Contacts to Assist in Administering Social Security Administration (SSA) Programs
We established routine uses under the Privacy Act that allow us to disclose non-tax information to third party entities (either public or private), as necessary, to administer our programs and responsibilities under the Social Security Act. However, we may not disclose tax return information to third party entities. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at
The following are examples of disclosures we may make to third party contacts to assist in administering our programs:
A. Disclosure to obtain information relating to an individual’s benefit eligibility/entitlement or capability to manage his or her affairs
We may disclose information to a third party contact when the party has, or is expected to have, information relating to an individual’s eligibility for, or entitlement to, benefits under a Social Security program, or capability to manage his or her benefits. We may disclose information under the following circumstances:
1. Individual unable to provide necessary information
This condition is met when:
the individual cannot read or write;
the individual cannot afford the cost of obtaining the information;
the individual has a hearing impairment and is contacting us by telephone through a telecommunications relay system operator;
a language barrier exists (e.g., Limited English Proficiency); or
the custodian of the information will not, if policy precludes it, provide the information.
2. To establish evidence or verify accuracy of information
We may disclose information when it is necessary to establish the validity of evidence, or to verify the accuracy of information presented by the individual, and it concerns one or more of the following:
his or her eligibility or entitlement to benefits under a Social Security program;
the amount of a benefit payment; or
any case in which evidence is being reviewed, as a result of suspected fraud or abuse, concern for program integrity, quality appraisal, or evaluation and measurement activities (e.g., research studies).
3. To determine the authenticity of documents
We may disclose information to third party contacts when the party to be contacted has or is expected to have information that will verify documents when we are unable to determine if such documents are authentic.
B. Disclosure to addiction treatment facilities
Our regulations (20
C.F.R. § 416.936(a)) provide that in order to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), individuals with drug addiction or alcoholism as a material factor in the determination of disability must avail themselves of appropriate treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism at a facility approved by SSA. In these cases, we may disclose information to approved facilities when the information is necessary to determine the best course of treatment for the individual.
See GN 03301.040B for limitations on the disclosure of drug abuse and alcoholism records.
C. Disclosure to verify Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility under Section 1631(e) of the Social Security Act (Act)
Section 1631(e) of the Act requires SSA to verify eligibility for SSI under Title XVI of the Act other than by declaration (e.g., by using collateral sources). In these cases, information may be disclosed to private parties or to Federal, State or local agencies to obtain relevant information.
Disclosure may be made only from the following systems of records:
60-0103—Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits; and
60-0320—Electronic Disability (eDIB) Claim File.
D. Disclosure to medical and vocational consultants
SSA or a State Disability Determination Services (DDS) may engage the services of private consultants to prepare for or perform consultative examinations or vocational assessments of individuals applying for disability benefits under sections 221 and 1633 of the Social Security Act. In these cases, SSA and DDS may disclose relevant non-tax return information (including verification of Social Security numbers (SSN)) to medical and vocational consultants.
We may disclose information to medical and vocational consultants under routine uses applicable in, but not limited to, the following systems of records:
See GN 03325.000 for instructions concerning verification of SSNs.
NOTE: Medical and vocational consultant reports prepared and submitted to us under contract become the property of SSA. In addition, records retained by medical sources pertaining to a consultative examination performed for the Social Security program are subject to our privacy regulations and can be disclosed only as authorized by SSA’s regulations.
E. Disclosures to claimant (or other individual authorized to act on his or her behalf) to pursue a claim for recovery of misapplied or misused benefits
We may disclose the current contact information such as address, phone number, email address of the claimant’s representative payee from the system of record, 60-0222—Master Representative Payee File.
F. To establish or verify information provided by representative payees and payee applicants
We may disclose information to third parties, where necessary, to establish or verify information provided by representative payees or payee applicants. We may disclose relevant information from the following systems of records, including but not limited to:
60-0103—Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits;
60-0222—Master Representative Payee File;
60-0269—Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS); and
NOTE: Do not disclose the address of a former payee to the current payee, as this is not necessary to perform his or her duties.
G. To obtain information to determine a representative payee’s or representative payee applicant’s suitability
We may disclose information to a third party, where necessary, to obtain information concerning a representative payee or payee applicant. Information we gather includes employment, sources of income, criminal justice records, stability of residence and other information to determine the qualifications and suitability of a representative payee or payee applicant, or their use of the benefits paid to them under section 205(j) of the Act. The disclosure should be limited to the identity of a representative payee or payee applicant; the fact of the individual’s application for or service as payee; and as necessary, the identity of the beneficiary. We may disclose information from the system of records, 60-0222—Master Representative Payee File.
H. To social agencies assisting SSA in locating a suitable representative payee
We may only disclose information that would help an agency advise us in selecting a representative payee.
We may disclose information including, but not limited to, the following systems of records:
60-0103—Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits;
60-0222—Master Representative Payee File; and
I. To assist in collecting overpayments
We may disclose certain information to third party contacts (including consumer reporting agencies and private collection agencies) to assist us in collecting overpayments under the routine use, cited in a number of our systems of records. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
See GN 03316.075 for more information regarding disclosure without consent to consumer reporting agencies.
GN 03316.070 Disclosure Without Consent to Employment Networks (EN) to Assist in Administering the Ticket-to-Work Program
An EN is a qualified entity that enters into an agreement with us to function as an EN under the Ticket-to-Work program. An EN is responsible for coordinating and delivering employment, vocational rehabilitation, or other support services to beneficiaries with disabilities who were assigned a ticket to the EN. The EN delivers these services under an Employment Plan. See DI 55020.001 for more information on employment plans. See DI 55010.001 for general policy information about ENs and DI 55000.000 for information about the Ticket-to-Work program.
We may disclose information to ENs who have an approved business arrangement with us to perform vocational rehabilitation services for disability beneficiaries and recipients, in connection with the Ticket-to-Work program under section 1148 of the Social Security Act. We may disclose relevant information from the following systems of records, including but not limited to:
60-0050—Completed Determination Record – Continuing Disability;
60-0295—Ticket-to-Work and Self-Sufficiency Program Payment Database; and
60-0300—Ticket-to-Work Program Manager (PM) Management Information System.
GN 03316.075 Disclosure Without Consent to Contractors
Most of our systems of records contain a routine use allowing disclosure to contractors or third parties under similar arrangements to assist us in accomplishing official agency functions. The routine use requires that the contractor establish an agreement with SSA. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
NOTE: We may not disclose tax return information to a contractor to accomplish agency functions unless authorized by the Internal Revenue Service. See GN
03320.015A.3 for more information.
GN 03316.080 Disclosure Without Consent to Employers
A. Disclosure of tax and non-tax return information
Under section 232 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. §
432), SSA and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) entered into an agreement under which employers are instructed by IRS to file annual wage reports with SSA. Correct names and Social Security numbers (SSN) on wage reports are the keys to successful processing of employers' and self-employed individuals' annual wage report submissions. As necessary, we may disclose relevant non-tax return and tax return information to employers that originally reported employment and wage information without the consents of wage earners for the following purposes:
to the extent necessary to correct or reconstruct earnings records, or
for Social Security tax purposes (taxes collected from earnings that go into the Social Security Trust Fund).
We may disclose relevant non-tax return and tax return information from the following systems of records including, but not limited to:
60-0058— Master Files of SSN Holders and SSN Applications;
60-0059—Earnings Recording and Self-Employment Income System; and
We encourage all employers to verify the SSNs in their wage records that they submit to us. To this end, we established processes to provide SSN verification services to employers quickly and efficiently. See https://www.ssa.gov/bso/services.htm for information about these processes. When handling requests from employers for SSN information, adhere to the following:
When handling requests from employers for SSN information, adhere to the following:
The employer must state that they need SSN verification of the employee to keep proper wage records or to prepare a tax return.
Do not verify the SSN to an employer in response to a request made via the telephone.
The employer must provide the name, SSN and date of birth of the employee. If the information matches, you can advise the employer that the SSN of the employee matches what is contained in our records.
SSA may only provide a positive verification of an employee’s SSN to an employer. If the name and SSN do not appear to match, do not disclose this fact. Instead, advise the employer to have the employee contact the nearest SSA field office.
NOTE: When an individual has applied for a job, but the employer has not yet hired that individual, disclosure to the potential future employer is not proper. However, if the employer has made a commitment to hire the individual, an employment relationship exists with the employer and we may provide SSN verification.
3. Disclosing Wage Determinations
A formal determination of coverage or wages must be prepared whenever a substantive wage question is involved or in any other situation where wages are being added or deleted from an individual’s earning record. When requested, we may provide an employer or former employer a copy of a coverage or wage determination relating to the employee in question, if the determination concerns services for, or wages paid by the employer or former employer.
GN 03316.085 Disclosure Without Consent to Non-Federal Workers Performing Duties for the Social Security Administration (SSA)
Non-Federal workers, also referred to as student volunteers and host-enrollees, are individuals authorized by Federal law to perform many of the same duties performed by current SSA employees. We may disclose information to volunteers and non-Federal workers when they need access to SSA records to perform their assigned duties. We established a routine use in the majority of our systems of records that allows volunteers and other non-Federal workers access to SSA records when performing their official duties. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html. Components that allow non-Federal workers access to our records should follow all applicable personnel rules when using the services of such workers.
GN 03316.090 Disclosure Without Consent to Social Security Agencies of Foreign Countries that are Parties to Totalization Agreements
Section 233 of the Social Security Act (Act) (42 U.S.C. § 433) authorizes the President of the United States to enter into totalization agreements with other countries to coordinate the Social Security systems of both countries. These agreements help fill gaps in benefit protection for workers who divide their careers between the United States and another country. Such workers may fail to qualify for Social Security benefits from the United States or the other country because they have not worked long enough to meet minimum eligibility requirements. Under these agreements, each country can count credits earned under the other country’s system, if this will help the worker meet the minimum length-of-work requirements to qualify. The agreements also provide that each country will assist the other in implementing and administering the agreement.
A. Totalization agreements
We may disclose information to the social security agency of a foreign country to carry out the purpose of an international social security agreement entered between the United States and the other country, pursuant to section 233 of the Act. We may disclose relevant tax and non-tax return information from any system of records that contains a routine use permitting disclosure to social security agencies of foreign countries. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
For additional information about disclosure of information to totalization countries, see GN 01702.510.
B. Mutual assistance arrangements
Consistent with section 233 of the Act, we enter into mutual assistance arrangements with the social security agencies of certain countries with which we have totalization agreements. Under these arrangements, the foreign agency assists us in administering its programs in the foreign country and we provide reciprocal services for the foreign country. This arrangement includes, but may not be limited to, providing services such as post-entitlement reviews, program and operational studies, and integrity reviews and evaluations. See GN 01703.000 more information on totalization arrangements.
GN 03316.095 Disclosure Without Consent to Recipients of the Death Master File (DMF) When Erroneous Death is Included on the DMF
Occasionally, living individuals are erroneously included in the DMF (e.g., due to inaccurate death reports or inaccurate data input). When providing the DMF, we advise DMF customers that we have not verified and do not guarantee the accuracy of all the information in the DMF. When we discover that a living individual was erroneously included on the DMF, we may disclose information to recipients of the DMF to notify them of the corrected data concerning the life status of such individuals, and to minimize the harm that might result to affected individuals from erroneous inclusion in the DMF.
The Office of Systems provides corrected DMF data centrally to DMF recipients.
GN 03316.100 Disclosure Without Consent to Consumer Reporting Agencies
The Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(12)) permits Federal agencies to disclose certain information without the written consent of the subject to consumer reporting agencies in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(e). The purpose of the disclosure is to aid the Federal government in the collection of outstanding debts, by making these debts part of their credit records.
In accordance with this provision of the Privacy Act, we may disclose the following information to consumer reporting agencies about individuals with delinquent Social Security Administration debts:
other information necessary to establish an individual’s identity;
the agency or program under which the debt arose.
We have several systems of records that contain a routine use allowing disclosure to consumer reporting agencies. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
Please refer requests concerning consumer agencies to the Office of the General Counsel, Office of
Privacy and Disclosure via the regional Privacy Act Coordinator.
GN 03316.105 Disclosure Without Consent to Primary Claimant/Beneficiary about Auxiliary Claimant/Beneficiary Filing on His or Her Record
A primary claimant, applicant, beneficiary, or number holder (NH) is entitled to know certain information about individuals who are or who have been entitled on his or her Social Security record. The primary claimant, applicant, beneficiary, or NH is the person under whose Social Security number (SSN) a claim is filed.
NOTE: This does not include information about individuals whose claims are still pending.
We may disclose the following information about auxiliaries to a primary claimant, beneficiary, or NH:
collective benefit amount, (i.e., the amount of the benefit, the effective date of that benefit amount, and any changes in the benefit amount and the effective dates of those changes); and
NOTE: This disclosure does
include the amount of any monthly check or the amount of any retroactive benefit check. The benefit amount does not mean the payment amount. The actual check amount could be different from the benefit amount due to a number of factors, such as a deduction for a Medicare premium, work deduction, or a deduction for an overpayment.
date(s) and period(s) of entitlement, including date(s) benefits were terminated.
Do not disclose any of the following information about auxiliaries to the primary claimant, beneficiary, or NH:
whether or not benefits were paid (or were suspended, etc.);
amounts of individual benefit checks;
names of representative payees (payee), copies of payee applications, or payee accountings; or
new names of adopted children.
EXAMPLE: A NH inquires about his son's entitlement to benefits on his record. The NH requests information about the date his son became entitled, the amount of his benefit, and the amounts of the actual checks issued to his son, including any retroactive checks.
We may disclose the son’s entitlement date, the amount of the benefit awarded, any subsequent changes in the son’s benefit amount, and the effective dates of those changes. However, you may
disclose the amounts of any of the son’s checks.
IMPORTANT: If an auxiliary’s Numident record contains special indicator (SPIN) 6, this indicates that the auxiliary has been issued a new SSN as a result of abuse, harassment, or life endangerment. See RM 10215.230 for special actions that are required when SPIN 6 appears on the Numident record.
GN 03316.110 Disclosure Without Consent to Auxiliary Claimants/Beneficiaries about a Primary Claimant/Beneficiary or Number Holder (NH)
Auxiliary claimants or beneficiaries are entitled to information from the record of the NH or primary beneficiary, without his or her written consent, when the auxiliary needs the information to pursue his or her claim for benefits on the NH’s or primary beneficiary’s record.
A. Circumstance of disclosure
We must establish and verify the relationship of the auxiliary to the NH prior to any disclosure of personal information. We use the requirement factors in GN 00305.000 and GN
00306.000 to establish an auxiliary’s relationship.
See GN 03340.015 for more information on the requirements for individuals requesting access to a record. See GN 03360.005 for more information on disclosure of information via telephone.
Do not disclose the NH’s or primary beneficiary’s Social Security number (SSN) or address.
EXAMPLE: A woman is applying for benefits on her own work record. Because she and her husband are separated, she does not know whether he is entitled to benefits or, if he is entitled, his Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). In addition, she does not have his SSN, although she does have enough identifying information for a search. She asks the field office (FO) for information about his entitlement and his current address.
We may disclose the NH’s PIA to his wife, so she can determine whether she would be entitled to a wife's benefit, in addition to, her own primary benefit. However, do not disclose the NH's current address, SSN, or other personal information, as she does not need this information to pursue a claim for wife's benefits.
IMPORTANT: If an auxiliary’s Numident record contains special indicator (SPIN) 6, this indicates that the auxiliary has been issued a new SSN as a result of abuse, harassment, or life endangerment. See RM 10215.230 for special actions that are required when SPIN 6 appears on the Numident record.
C. Information about other claimants or beneficiaries
Auxiliary beneficiaries are entitled to certain information about other beneficiaries whose entitlement adversely affects their own benefits. See GN 03316.115 for more information regarding adverse claims and adverse actions.
GN 03316.115 Disclosure Without Consent Concerning Adverse Claims or Adverse Actions
These instructions below in GN 03316.115A.1. and GN 03316.115A.2. do not apply to hearing cases. The administrative law judge should decide what is proper to disclose to parties who are or may be adversely affected. Field offices (FO) or regional offices should consult the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO), Regional Office (RO) for questions concerning hearing case disclosures.
A. Disclosure for adverse claim situations
An adverse claim is an award of benefits to a subsequent claimant, or the reinstatement or resumption of benefits to a prior beneficiary that results in the nonentitlement or termination of an earlier beneficiary.
We may disclose a copy of the relevant evidence to the adversely affected beneficiary.
EXAMPLE: A woman (X) is entitled, but another woman (Y) submits evidence of an earlier marriage to the beneficiary that appears to be still valid. You may show X the evidence establishing Y's earlier marriage to the beneficiary, so X may try to refute it. You may also disclose to Y information relevant to the issue of who is the valid spouse.
B. Disclosure for adverse actions
An adverse action is a determination resulting in either nonentitlement, termination of entitlement, or a benefit reduction to a currently or previously entitled beneficiary, because of a subsequent award to a late-filing claimant on the same SSN.
We may disclose any adverse information that is relevant to the determination to any adversely affected beneficiary.
CAUTION: Do not disclose the new names of adopted children.
EXAMPLE: We sent an adverse adjustment notice to the primary beneficiary's wife. She questions her low benefit rate as a spouse, and the FO explains that the family maximum is a factor because of several children entitled in another household. She requests evidence that reflects her husband is the father of the children, and requests the names and addresses of the children or their payee.
Because the wife’s benefits are adversely affected by the addition of the other auxiliary beneficiaries, we may disclose information establishing paternity (including the names of the children and of the children's mother, which would be on their birth certificates). This is relevant to her own benefit rate. However, she is not entitled to the address of the children, nor the name or address of their payee.
C. Disclosure for conflicting, pending, or simultaneous claims
We may disclose information at our initiation to the extent necessary to resolve discrepancies between the claimants’ allegations.
NOTE: We may disclose this information in order to resolve questions that we need in order to make a determination, as well as, in response to a request from a claimant.
EXAMPLE: We reduced the benefits for widowed mother (E )and one or more children (C) in her care are reduced because of the entitlement of another C of the beneficiary and an unwed mother. You may show E the evidence on which paternity was based.
See GN 01010.310, GN 01010.325, GN 01010.330, and GN 01010.335 for more information on handling adverse adjustments
We may disclose information from the following systems of records in adverse claims situations including, but not limited to:
60-0090 - Master Beneficiary Record; and
60-0320 - Electronic Disability (eDIB) Claim File.
GN 03316.120 Disclosure Without Consent to Representative Payees
1. Prospective representative payees
We may disclose relevant information about a beneficiary that a representative payee applicant needs to decide whether to serve as representative payee. The information should be limited to the following:
the beneficiary's or recipient's name;
the reason that a representative payee is needed (i.e., the fact that the individual cannot manage his or her own finances); and
the type of benefit and amount received.
CAUTION: Do not disclose sensitive information, such as medical records.
NOTE: If the person is applying to become representative payee for a claimant not yet entitled to benefits, we may have to disclose additional information in order to develop the claim. If you are uncertain about how much to disclose in a particular case, you may contact the Office of the General, Office of Privacy and Disclosure via the Regional Privacy Act Coordinator for guidance.
2. Current representative payees
We may only disclose information to current representative payees that the individual needs to perform the duties of representative payee (e.g., to receive and disburse or conserve the beneficiary's Social Security benefits).
Do not disclose the address of a former representative payee nor information about how a former representative payee used benefits to the current representative payee, as the current representative payee does not need this information to perform his or her duties. We determine whether the former representative payee used the benefits properly and notify the new representative payee of any conserved funds.
REMINDER: If a representative payee is entitled to information in another capacity (e.g., as the beneficiary’s parent or legal guardian), the representative payee may receive any information he or she is entitled to in that capacity. See GN 03340.025 and GN
03340.030 for more information on providing access.
NOTE: You may contact a representative payee to obtain information when the representative payee may have information relating to the beneficiary’s entitlement or eligibility to benefits under a Social Security program. In this case, the representative payee is the same as any other third party to whom we may disclose information for a program purpose. See GN
03316.040 for further information about disclosure to general third party contacts.
GN 03316.125 Disclosure to Attorneys and Representatives
An individual may authorize a third party to act on his or her behalf in dealings with us. The individual must name the appointed representative in writing. An appointed representative can be an attorney or non-attorney, but must be a designated individual or individuals, not a firm or entity.
On behalf of the claimant, an appointed representative may:
present the claimant’s arguments and position on issues in the claimant’s proceedings;
obtain information about the claim that the SSA would generally provide the claimant;
examine any documents to which the claimant would have access;
designate associates who perform administrative duties, partners or parties under contractual agreements for which the claimant has authorized us to disclose;
appear at any interview, conference, or hearing;
be informed of all additional evidence needed to support the claim;
make statements about facts and law;
request a reconsideration, hearing, or Appeals Council review;
submit briefs or other written statements;
make a request or give any report or notice about the proceedings before SSA;
be notified of any decision made in the claim, including, if applicable, decisions regarding auxiliary beneficiaries; and
help witnesses prepare for a hearing and question any witnesses.
See GN 03910.025 for more information regarding the authority of a representative.
A. Using Form SSA-1696, Appointment of Representative
Form SSA-1696-U4, or written equivalent, limits a claimant’s appointment of a representative to an individual, not an entity. The claimant must submit Form SSA-3288 to consent to disclosure of his or her records to an entity. Disclosure based on presentation of a Form SSA-1696-U4 alone only authorizes us to release records to the individual named on the form (or the individual who signs the form). An individual may also authorize the appointed representative to designate an associate (e.g. clerk), or other party or entity (e.g. a copying service) to receive information from the individual’s claim file on the representative’s behalf for the duration of the claim. An individual may permit disclosure of information to a representative’s designated associates who performs administrative duties by selecting the appropriate box on the Form SSA-1696-U4. In these instances, disclosure to the representative’s designated associate does not require a separate Form SSA-3288.
NOTE: Although an “appointed representative” and a “designated representative” may be one individual, the functions of these two types of representative are distinctly different. Refer to GN 03340.035B for information regarding a designated representative. See GN 03305.025 and GN 03900.000 for information on appointed (or authorized) representatives.
B. Identifying an appointed representative by telephone
To verify that the claimant has appointed this representative, obtain a query or access the Form SSA-1696, or a written equivalent. The caller must provide:
the claimant's identifying information.
C. Identifying a representative's designated associate by telephone
If the caller is a representative’s designated associate, verify that the claimant has checked the appropriate box in Part 1 of the SSA-1696, authorizing disclosure to the designated associate. The caller must provide:
appointed representative's name as shown on the SSA-1696 or query; and
the claimant's identifying information.
NOTE: If the associate cannot provide you with the required information, the associate should have the appointed representative call or visit the field office.
D. Circumstance of disclosure
We may disclose any information an applicant, claimant, beneficiary or representative payee is entitled to receive to an appointed representative, subject only to any limitations imposed by the individual. We do not consider this access, but rather, disclosure with consent or a routine use disclosure. GN 03910.025 and GN 03910.060 provide more information on the authority of a representative and when authority expires.
NOTE: Because of the sensitivity of the contents of medical records, we must identify these records as medical records when disclosed. Cover medical records with a completed Form SSA-1994 (Cover Sheet Confidential Medical Information). If an SSA-1994 is not available, make a cover sheet to identify the records as “Confidential - Medical Information.”
When the subject individual requests a review in person, another individual of his or her choosing may accompany him or her. In some cases, you may need to discuss with the appointed representative what documents he or she needs before providing information from file. You may also suggest that the appointed representative come to the field office (FO) to review the file, to determine which items to copy.
See 20 CFR
401.40; 20 CFR
401.55; and AIMS, GAM 14.03 for more information pertaining to the handling of access requests, including special procedures regarding medical records.
FO staff normally copies all material made available to a requester. We may allow a visitor, to whom we are releasing information, operate our photocopy equipment when the following requirements are met:
FO management approves the arrangements;
information in the file pertaining to other individuals is removed from the file before photocopying or burning to a CD, if there is no authorization to disclose; and
FO management arranges for FO staff to monitor the appointed representative's handling of the file to ensure that he or she does not remove original material from the file.
EXAMPLE:The authorization only provides for release of information about beneficiary “A,” and there is information concerning beneficiary “B” in the file. We must remove all material pertaining to B before allowing the requester to photocopy the file.
NOTE:We do not recommend providing documents such as Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) printouts and other output query screens (administrative) to the appointed representative. If the appointed representative specifically requests that copies of such screens or queries be included, we recommend providing the information in another format, other than a copy of the query screenshot. If we can provide the specific information the appointed representative requests in another manner, there is no obligation to provide a query. Disclosure of queries to appointed representatives should be a rare occurrence. When disclosing queries to appointed representatives, we should follow the same procedures described in GN
03305.004B and GN 03305.004C for disclosing queries to third parties with consent.
GN 03316.130 Disclosure Without Consent for Research and Statistical Purposes
1. Statistical and research activities
We provide data to government agencies and private organizations for research projects and studies. Generally, disclosures to support external research activities are in the form of aggregations, statistics and or tabulations that do not identify any individual. We must review all statistical output prior to disclosure, to ensure the output meets our disclosure guidelines and will not lead to the identity of any individual or compromise the anonymity or privacy of an individual or family.
The Privacy Act allows us to disclose personally identifiable information subject to certain conditions and pursuant to a routine use. The Office of the General Counsel, via the Office of Data Exchange and Policy Publication (ODXIA), reviews requests to disclose SSA data for research purposes to determine if the disclosure is permissible.
2. Disclosure for SSA-approved research studies
In an effort to improve the quality of research designed to enhance the decision-making process in the Social Security program, we have routine uses that allow disclosure of information to entities and agencies such as Federal, State, or Congressional Support Agencies for certain research studies.
Many of our systems of records contain research routine uses. You can view a full listing of all of our systems of records and their routine uses at https://www.ssa.gov/privacy/sorn.html.
B. Requests from external parties to use SSA data for research and statistical purposes
To request SSA data for research purposes, the requester must submit their request to ODXIA. ODXIA will coordinate the processing of the request amongst agency stakeholders to determine:
the feasibility and resource implications on the agency;
if the agency has authority to disclose the data sought;
if reimbursement is necessary; and
whether or not the requester can or does comply with Federal Information Security Systems requirements and will agree to our safeguarding and data security requirements, etc.
Once the appropriate components make a determination on the request, ODXIA will send a formal response to the requester.
GN 03316.135 Disclosures Without Consent in Health and Safety Situations
Under the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. §
552a(b)(8) ), we may disclose non-tax return information in compelling circumstances affecting the health or safety of an individual. A compelling circumstance is an emergency, life or death situation, where harm is believed to be imminent.
We may initiate a disclosure or respond to a request from an entity that could take action on the information disclosed. In these cases, the Privacy Act requires us to send a notice to the individual informing him or her that we have made a disclosure of their personal information. The Privacy Act does not mandate a time period during which this notification must be sent.
Examples of health and safety disclosure that may be made under 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(8) include:
To the police or another appropriate party for the location, prosecution or detention of an individual who has threatened to harm another individual (including an SSA employee).
To a person whose health or safety has been threatened, when disclosure is made in an attempt to prevent the threatened harm.
To an appropriate mental health clinic, agency, hotline, etc., to report a threatened suicide.
To a public or hospital official who needs information to identify a deceased, amnesiac, unconscious or mentally incapacitated person and cannot obtain it from any other source.
To a public agency (such as a State Health Department) responsible for the identification, location, or treatment of individuals who have medical conditions that are legally reportable and perilous to the health or safety of themselves or the public.
Keep in mind that disclosure in health and safety situations may fall within other exceptions to the Privacy Act allowing disclosure without consent. For example, see GN 03312.095 for more information on disclosures to law enforcement agencies involving health and safety situations, and see GN 03314.120 for more information on disclosures without consent to state and local protective social services agencies, involving health and safety situations in which a child or other vulnerable person may be the victim of neglect or abuse.
B. Determining whether to disclose
The component receiving a request may disclose relevant information if the request demonstrates a compelling circumstance affecting the health and safety of an individual if in the opinion of the component’s manager such a circumstance exists. If the situation does not constitute an emergency, life or death situation, where harm is believed to be imminent, but otherwise raises agency concern or if there are any questions concerning the appropriateness of the disclosure, contact the regional Privacy Act Coordinator, who may in turn contact the Office of the General Counsel, Office of Privacy and Disclosure.
C. Notifying an individual of disclosure
When making a disclosure for health and safety reasons, send a notice to the individual whose record we disclosed. The following is suggested language for the notice:
This to advise you that the Social Security Administration recently released
information about you to the _________________________ in a
compelling circumstance involving the health and safety of an individual. We made
this disclosure in accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. § 552a(b)(8)) and SSA
regulations (20 C.F.R. §
401.160). Both the Privacy Act and our regulations permit us to disclose
information in a compelling circumstance affecting the health and safety of an
If you want information about the information we released, you can contact our
office. If you contact our office, please refer to this notice in your
GN 03316.140 Disclosure Without Consent Under Ad Hoc Disclosure Situations
In exceptional cases, the Commissioner of Social Security or a designee may approve, on a case-by-case basis, disclosure of non-tax return information under the ad hoc disclosure provision of SSA’s disclosure regulation (20 C.F.R. § 401.195). In these cases, the following requirements must be met:
the disclosure seems appropriate or necessary, and
there is no provision for disclosure in our disclosure regulations (20 C.F.R. Part
401) as interpreted by POMS GN Chapter 033, and
no provision of law specifically prohibits the disclosure.
Components should contact the Privacy Officer (PO) immediately, through the Office of the General Counsel, Office of Privacy and
Disclosure , for all requests for information involving national security or other ad hoc disclosure situations.
Before referring the case to the PO, quickly find out as much as information as possible about the crime or other activity prompting the request, the requester's position in the law enforcement agency or other agency, and the information needed. You may ask the requester to fax or email a written request. Notify your Regional Privacy Act Coordinator if you contact the PO.
GN 03316.145 Disclosure Without Consent for Requests for Professional Fee Information
Under the Freedom of Information Act, we may disclose the following information to any requester:
the aggregate amounts of professional fees (not individual fees) authorized by SSA to be paid to attorneys or other persons for representing individuals before the Social Security Administrative Law Judges;
the amount of payments to third parties such as vocational experts, medical experts, consultative physicians, and translators; and
the number of separate cases represented by those fee totals.
We cannot disclose information that would let the requester associate information with specific persons for whom services were rendered.
Do not disclose (except to the parties involved) the fees authorized for handling a specific case, since this would disclose the identity of the attorney's client and the amount of the fee.
B. Procedure for processing fee requests
Send these requests to the Office of the General Counsel, Office of Privacy and Disclosure unless the Office of Earnings and International Operations receives them.
GN 03316.150 Disclosure Without Consent for Requests from News Media
If the news media requests personally identifiable information, and we do not have the individual’s written consent to disclose, notify the regional Public Affairs Officer. He or she will refer all pertinent facts to the Press Office (in consultation with the Privacy Officer) whether to disclose the information.
GN 03316.155 Disclosures to Medicare Set-Aside Companies with Consent
A. Medicare set-aside companies
Medicare set-aside companies request Medicare and benefit entitlement information from our records to assist insurance carriers, third party administrators, self-insured companies, and attorneys in complying with Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) laws. MSP laws protect Medicare’s interests in workers’ compensation settlement cases. Medicare set-aside companies use the information they request to help Medicare determine settlement amounts in cases involving future medical and drug-related expenses. We may only disclose information to Medicare set-aside companies with proper consent.
B. Fees for non-program related requests
We consider requests from Medicare set-aside companies as non-program related requests. Therefore, we must charge and collect fees prior to disclosing any information. Some companies may insist that the requested information relates to administering Medicare or workers’ compensation programs. Nonetheless, Medicare or worker’s compensation programs are third party private commercial entities, which are not directly responsible for administering
health and income maintenance programs under the Social Security Act. Medicare set-aside companies act as advocates for attorneys, carriers, and claimants in coordinating workers’ compensation and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits. As such, we must charge and collect fees for providing the requested information.
See GN 03311.005 for additional information on charging fees for record requests.
C. Requests for queries from Medicare set-aside companies
We do not provide queries of any type, including third party queries (TPQY), for requests from Medicare set-aside companies. Medicare set-aside companies usually request limited data.
GN 03316.160 Disclosures to Employers Who Assist in Administering the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) Program with and Without Consent
The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 created the WOTC program to provide federal employer tax credits as an incentive to hire certain targeted population groups. To qualify for the tax credit, employers or their designated agents (e.g., a payroll company working on behalf of the employer) must verify that the newly hired employee qualifies for one of 12 targeted population groups. Persons who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments 60 days before the hiring date qualify, as do persons who participate in the Ticket-to-Work (TTW) program.
1. Department of Labor (DOL) and State Workforce Agencies (SWA) requests
DOL and SWAs administer the WOTC program. For purposes of disclosure, we consider the WOTC an income maintenance program. These agencies may request SSI or TTW verification information under the applicable Privacy Act routine use for Federal and State administration of health and income-maintenance programs. When the request relates to the WOTC program, we may disclose verifications directly to DOL and SWAs without consent. The Commissioner set the associated fee at $0 (waived) for providing SSI and TTW verifications to SWAs.
Third party requests for SSI information made by, or on behalf of, employers for purposes related to the WOTC program, are non-program purpose related requests. Third party requesters, including employers, are still required to pay the appropriate fee. The waived fee is only applicable to SWAs.
3. Processing WOTC requests
We provide only verification of an individual’s participation in the SSI or TTW programs. We do not provide any other information to SWAs, such as benefit amounts or claims information, in response to requests related to the WOTC program. Central office handles all WOTC requests. Forward requests to the Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support (ORDES) for processing. Within ORDES, the Office of Employment Support is responsible for providing SSI and TTW verifications to the SWAs.