Identification Number:
EM-24006
Intended Audience:FOs/TSCs/WSUs/PSCs/OCO
Originating Office:ORDP OISP
Title:Policy Changes and Procedures to Streamline the Recording of Protective Filing Dates - Instructions Will Follow Shortly
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:Title II (RSI); Title VIII (SVB); Title XVI (SSI); Disability; Medicare
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM.
 
Retention Date: 09/12/2024


A. Purpose: This Emergency Message (EM) outlines the Policy changes and new procedures for technicians to follow when individuals contact SSA (e.g., in person, by telephone, or in writing) to indicate intent to file for benefits and a protective filing record associated with a claimant’s SSN already exists and closeout periods have not expired.

B. Background:
    The protective filing policy is based on the regulatory requirements (§ 404.630 and § 416.340) which state that if we receive a written statement, such as a letter, indicating intent to file for benefits, we will use the receipt date of the written statement as the filing date of the application. However, the individual must file the application within 6 months (for T2) or 60 days (for T8 benefits and T16 payments) after the date of the notice we will send advising of the need to file an application. An individual may also verbally state intent to file if the individual contacts us in person or over the phone. We commonly refer to this date of contact as the protective filing date (PFD). Once an individual verbally states their intent to file or we receive the written statement expressing their intent to file, we issue a notice advising the person that they must file an application within a specified time in order to preserve the filing date protected by the statement (i.e., closeout notice).
      Prior to SSA’s ability to connect internal SSA records and have a national network to communicate among local field offices (FO) and teleservices centers, individuals may have visited one FO to discuss their benefits and provided their intent to file and subsequently months later, for personal reasons, visited a different FO and provided another intent to file.

      To account for this practice and ensure we provided the correct protective filing date for claimants, SSA created the multiple protective filing policy to guide technicians on how to evaluate the different dates to determine the correct date when the individual filed the application. As SSA’s internal systems evolved and now that records based on SSN can be viewed across FOs, this policy has created confusion for technicians and the public, who receive multiple closeout notices with different dates.

      In an effort to streamline policies and processes, we evaluated 1) the different related protective filing policies and 2) related OIG audits reporting entitlement issues and filing dates (e.g., Audit A-08-18-50582). Considering that our basic protective filing policy already continuously protects individuals for either 6 months or 60 days, it was determined that the multiple protective filing policy is no longer useful or practical. Continuing to create multiple records not only delays the processing of the claim and is confusing to technicians, but often results in using the wrong protective filing date. Subsequently, this directly impacts claimants’ payments as they can be either overpaid if an expired PFD was erroneously used or underpaid if an earlier PFD was not considered.

    C. Policy Change
      Effective 03/12/2024, technicians will no longer create separate protective filing records (i.e., multiple protective filing records) for the same SSN if a protective filing record already exists for the same claimant and same benefit program (e.g., T2, T8, T16) and the closeout period (i.e., 6 months, 60 days) has not expired. This change will ensure that we use the correct PFD by reducing the number of records to review and eliminates unnecessary closeout letters mailed to claimants.

      IMPORTANT: Technicians must continue to follow GN 01010.008B.2 to identify and evaluate potential earlier protective filing dates previously established.
    D. Processing Instructions:
      To reflect this policy change, we are updating the electronic SSA Protective Filing (eSPF) tool to reflect one successful request per claimant every 6 months, which will continue to be stored in the Enhanced Leads and Appointment System (eLAS). Individuals who attempt to submit more than one request every 6 months will be directed to contact SSA for further assistance.


      Follow the instructions below when an individual contacts SSA to provide their intent to file for benefits and to resolve previously established protective filing records in eLAS:

      1. Individual contacts SSA to let us know they want to file for benefits and want an appointment.
          a. If contact is in person or by telephone, establish identity of the claimant, see GN 00203.020. If contact is in writing, review the information provided to determine that it meets the required elements of a protective writing, per GN 00204.010B.
          b. Review internal SSA records (e.g., eLAS, Modernized Claims System (MCS), etc.) to determine if a protective filing record already exists for the claimant under the same SSN and benefit title the individual is intending to file and verify if it has been closed out.
      2. If there is no prior protective filing record, follow current procedures to create a new record in eLAS and schedule the appointment. Technicians should make every effort to schedule the appointment prior to the end of the closeout period.
        IMPORTANT: There may be situations where there is no acceptable appointment available within the closeout period. If there is no acceptable appointment available within the closeout period, add a remark in eLAS in the Remarks field of the Summary (ISUM) screen (MS 00601.012) by selecting Show Add Remarks. - “Applicant called MMDDYY to file for benefits. No acceptable appointment available within closeout period. Use MMDDYY as protective filing date. The protective filing will remain on the eLAS listing until an appointment is scheduled. Schedule the next available appointment as soon as possible and use the protective filing date annotated in eLAS Remarks when processing the claim.

        Example: Sally contacted SSA on October 1, 2023 to file for T16 benefits. However, there were no acceptable appointments available for the next 60 days. A technician scheduled an appointment for Sally on December 12, 2023. Since our scheduling did not allow for scheduling the appointment within the 60-day closeout period, we will use October 1, 2023 as the protective filing date if Sally files a claim on December 12, 2023 at the time of the appointment.
      3. If a protective filing record already exists in eLAS for the same SSN and benefit title (i.e., T2, T16, T18) and there is an appointment scheduled, and
          a. The closeout period has not expired (see D.8 below if there is no closeout notice).
            REMINDER: For first party eSPF submissions, closeout language is provided on-screen to the user. For these scenarios, the Development Worksheet in eLAS will have a completed REC date for T2CO and T16CO.
          b. Then, add a remark in eLAS in the Remarks field of the Summary (ISUM) screen by selecting Show Add Remarks - “Applicant called MMDDYY to file for benefits. Earlier PFD already established MMDDYY via [insert modality (e.g., iClaim, i3820, eLAS, etc.)],
            NOTE: Adding this remark to eLAS is for informational purposes only and cannot be used to create a new protective filing date once the initial protective filing closeout period has expired. This also applies to dictated eLAS remarks in D.4.c in this EM.
          c. Advise the claimant of their closeout date, and
          d. Remind them of the importance of keeping their scheduled appointment.
        4. If a protective filing record already exists in eLAS for the same SSN and benefit title (i.e., T2, T16, T18) and there is no scheduled appointment:
            a. If the record was created using the eSPF tool, follow instructions in EM-22015 REV and OB 22-002 to verify the claimant’s identity in eLAS and provide closeout notice (if applicable);
            b. Schedule an appointment within the closeout period,
            c. Add a remark in eLAS in the Remarks field of the Summary (ISUM) screen by selecting Show Add Remarks- “Applicant called MMDDYY to file for benefits. Earlier PFD already established MMDDYY via [insert modality (e.g., iClaim, i3820, eLAS, etc.)]”,
            d. Advise the claimant of their closeout date shown in the closeout notice (see D.8 below if there is no closeout notice), and
            e. Remind them of the importance to keep their scheduled appointment.
            f. If the protective filing record was not created using eSPF, then follow steps 4b thru 4e above.
          REMINDER: If there are no acceptable appointments available, TSC technicians follow instructions in TC 10010.070 Step 28. FO technicians follow the important note in D.2 above in conjunction with local procedures.
        5. If a protective filing record already exists in eLAS for one benefit title (e.g., T2) and
            a. Individual wants to file for a different benefit title from the already established protective filing record (e.g., T16) and
            b. There is an appointment scheduled.
            c. Then, establish a new protective filing record for the new benefit title in the eLAS system and follow current business process to allow for additional time for the additional claim. Do not schedule a new appointment. The new benefit title will be handled with the already scheduled appointment.
            d. Use the Edit a Lead screen to select “Yes” under “Recontact by Caller”. On the Summary (ISUM) screen on the existing eLAS record and select Show Add Remarks to add the remark “PFD for [(enter the new benefit title) established today MMDDYY based on new contact] to document the new claim type to be addressed at the already scheduled appointment.
            e. If there is no appointment already scheduled, establish a new protective filing record for the new benefit title in eLAS and schedule the appointment to meet the earlier closeout date shown in the closeout notice, if a closeout notice was sent. Use the Edit a Lead screen to select “Yes” under the “Recontact by Caller” segment on the ISUM screen on the existing eLAS record and add the remark “PFD for [(enter the new benefit title) established today MMDDYY based on new contact] to document the additional claim type to be addressed at the newly scheduled appointment. If there are no acceptable appointments available, refer to the important note in D.2 above.
          6. If a protective filing record already exists in eLAS for one benefit type and
              a. Individual wants to file for a different type of benefit which starts at a future entitlement date from the already established protective filing record (e.g., prior eLAS record is DIB and claimant is turning 62 next week and calling to file for RIB benefits) and
              b. There is a scheduled appointment; and
              c. with an unexpired closeout period.
              d. Then, add the new benefit type under the prior established PFD record in eLAS, use the Edit a Lead screen to select “Yes” under “Recontact by Caller”. On the Summary (ISUM) screen in eLAS, and select Show Add Remarks to add a remark in the Remarks field to document the new claim type to be addressed at the already scheduled appointment.
              e. If there is no appointment already scheduled, add the new benefit type under the prior established PFD record in eLAS, use the Edit a Lead Screen to select “Yes” under “Recontact by Caller” and schedule the appointment. If there are no acceptable appointments available, refer to the important note in D.2 above.
              NOTE: If the new claim type is a survivor’s claim, establish a new protective filing record under the deceased NH’s SSN. This will allow you to properly record the date of death (DOD) in eLAS for the deceased NH and capture the correct protective filing date for the survivor’s claim.

          7. Prior Protective Filing Record exists in eLAS but closeout period is expired.
              a. Review SSA records to determine if the earlier PFD has already been closed out (e.g., review the eLAS Development Worksheet to ensure that the T2CO and/or T16CO issues are properly receipted in with the date(s) the closeout(s) were sent).
              b. Review ORS to confirm that a closeout notice was sent. See reminder in D.3.a above.
              c. If closeout was provided and the closeout period expired, follow current procedures to create a new record in eLAS to record the new intent to file and schedule the appointment.
            8. Prior Protective Filing Record exists in eLAS for same benefit type or title the claimant is calling about, but no closeout notice was provided (i.e., open protective filing).
                a. Issue a manual closeout notice using the Document Processing System (DPS), see GN 00204.012 and SI 00601.040. On the Summary (ISUM) screen in eLAS, add a remark in eLAS on the Development Worksheet (WKSH) screen – “Manual closeout issued via DPS MMDDYY” and
                b. Advise the claimant of their closeout date shown in the closeout notice, and
                c. Remind them of the importance to keep their scheduled appointment.
              IMPORTANT: Do not issue notices containing closeout language from a new eLAS record when an appointment is being scheduled and a protective filing record already exists as the notice will contain the incorrect protective filing date and closeout period. This includes suppressing T2-only appointment confirmation notices in eLAS scheduled more than 7 days in the future, as they contain closeout language.

          Direct all program-related and technical questions to your Regional Office (RO) support staff using vHelp or Program Service Center (PSC) Operations Analysis (OA) staff. RO support staff or PSC OA staff may refer questions, concerns or problems to their Central Office contacts.

          References:
          GN 00203.020 Identity of Claimants
          GN 00204.010 Protective Filing
          GN 00204.012 How to Close a Protective Writing
          SI 00601.040 Protective Filing Closeout Notices
          TC 10010.070 Step 28 Procedure 2: Making Claims Referrals or Scheduling Appointments

          EM-24006 - Policy Changes and Procedures to Streamline the Recording of Protective Filing Dates - Instructions Will Follow Shortly - 03/12/2024