Identification Number:
EM-22015 REV
Intended Audience:All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/TSCs
Originating Office:DCO OPSOS
Title:Policy and Processing Instructions for Protective Filings Established Using the Online Protective Filing Tool
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:Title II (RSI); Title XVI (SSI)
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM
 
Retention Date: 09/17/2022

Summary of Changes:

This EM replaces the publication date of March 18, 2022.

Added additional language to Section D to provide specific processing instructions to send manual closeout notices appointment requests made through the Online Protective Filing tool and the claimant does not keep the appointment. The instructions provide new and specific paragraph language for the manual notice.

A. Purpose
This emergency message (EM) provides policy guidance and processing instructions for handling protective filings established by the Online Protective Filing Online Protective Filing tool which was released into production on March 19, 2022.


B. Background
SSA has implemented several outreach initiatives to reach communities facing barriers and assist individuals interested in filing for SSI and other potential benefits. The Online Protective Filing tool is a public-facing web tool to submit a request for an appointment to file for benefits and record a protective filing date for individuals who cannot contact us by phone or does not wish to utilize existing Online Services, such as the Internet Claim (iClaim) Application. The request can be submitted by an individual interested in benefits for themselves, or on behalf of certain other individuals. Upon submission, a protective filing date is established. The Online Protective Filing tool fills gaps in existing online methods for establishing a protective filing date for (or on behalf of) potential claimants of any age interested in receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Online Protective Filing tool is targeted to individuals interested in filing for SSI. The Online Protective Filing tool will:
    · Collect responses to preliminary screening questions,
    · Determine the applicable Title II and Title XVI claim types,
    · Establish Title II and Title XVI protective filing dates, and
    · Provide appropriate closeout language for both Titles (in certain situations).
    Once the appointment request is submitted, the Online Protective Filing request is sent to the Enhanced Leads and Appointment System (eLAS) to create a record for further action. If the individual does not complete all required fields to submit the Online Protective Filing inquiry, or the submission fails, no data is saved or sent to eLAS, and no protective filing date is established.

    IMPORTANT: Field office (FO) technicians should be alert to potential entitlement to Title II benefits on the record of another individual as Online Protective Filing does not ask questions needed to determine if Widows Insurance Benefits (WIB), Disabled Widow’s Benefits (DWB), Childhood Disability Benefits (CDB), or other entitlements are potentially involved. Technicians should follow normal claims-taking best practices to ensure that applications are taken for all benefits to which the applicant could be eligible.

    Individuals must select one of five categories in the Online Protective Filing tool to indicate if they are making the appointment request for themselves or someone else. The chart below shows the Online Protective Filing options, a description of each option and the remark that will be generated in eLAS.

    OptionDescription eLAS Remark
    1. SelfThe potential claimant used the tool for themselvesAppointment requested for self.
    2. A minor child or incompetent adult An individual used the tool on behalf of a child (including their own) in their care or an incompetent adult whose care they are responsible for or for whom they are the legal representativeAppointment requested for a minor child or incompetent adult.
    3. SpouseThe potential claimant’s spouse used the tool to indicate the potential claimant may wish to file for SSIAppointment requested for a spouse.
    4. Someone else who is with you as you answer these questionsSomeone else used the tool but the potential claimant is physically present while answering the Online Protective Filing questionsThird party helped someone else who was with them.
    5. Someone else who is not with you but has a good reason why they cannot sign their own application at this time An individual who is not the potential claimant used the tool because there was a good reason why the potential claimant could not submit their own application. The potential claimant was not physically present at the time the Online Protective Filing tool was used.Third party helped someone else who was not with them.

    C. Procedure to Retrieve Appointment Requests
    FO managers will designate the FO staff who will address these appointment requests per the instructions below, based on office staff availability and workload volumes. All FO technicians can work Online Protective Filing requests in eLAS. However, a claim may be taken immediately by Claims Specialists (CS) or Claims Technician Experts (CTE) if Priority Life Circumstances defined in section C.2.a below are involved.

    Managers should pull a listing of Online Protective Filing requests daily and assign them to staff as early in the day as possible. Designated technicians will pull a listing of Online Protective Filing requests from the eLAS Listing Request Menu or by using the Workload Action Center (WAC).

    Technicians must review and work Online Protective Filing requests based on the earliest date received. If there are Online Protective Filing requests remaining from the previous day because no appointments were available on the office’s calendar, schedule an appointment for these cases before moving on to the newest requests.

    Cases with a “Priority Life Circumstance” or a remark indicating recent release from incarceration should be worked within three business days. All other Online Protective Filing requests should be worked within five business days.

    Take the following actions to review and work Online Protective Filing requests:


      1. Retrieve the Online Protective Filing Listings

        · Select the “Listing Request Menu” tab on the eLAS home page. The Listing Request Menu screen will provide access to available listings in eLAS.

        · On the Listings Request Menu screen, enter the Office Code and select the radio button labeled Pending, then select “Submit”.

        · Select “Single Unit” and enter “ONLPFL” in the “All 6 Positions” field. All Online Protective Filing leads are identified by this Unit Code.

        · For desired workload type, select “Initial Claims/No Appointment”.

        · For Age Category, select “All”.


      2. Review eLAS record

      Once technicians obtain the appropriate listings, they will review the information provided and schedule appointments without the need to contact potential claimants, in some situations. The Online Protective Filing tool does not have an authentication mechanism, therefore, technicians will be required to verify the identity of the claimant at the time of the interview for filing the application for benefits. See section E below for policy instructions and guidance. Follow the steps below to review records and take appropriate actions.

      Records flagged with a “Priority Life Circumstance” or a remark indicating recent release from incarceration should be worked within three business days. All other Online Protective Filing requests should be worked within five business days.


        a. Check for Priority Life Circumstances

        If an individual selected at least one of the following life circumstances, the eLAS listing will display a priority flag.


          · Military Casualty (MC) or Wounded Warrior (WW)
          · 100 Percent Disabled through the Department of Veterans Affairs
          · Homeless
          · TERI or terminal illness
          · Sign Language interpreter needed
          · Visual accommodation needed
        There is one additional flag of “Recently released from a correctional institution” that requires priority handling, but eLAS does not currently display a priority flag (see C.2.c. below).
          b. Priority Indicator Present

          Make one attempt by phone following normal procedures to contact the claimant (or the responsible party for a minor child or incompetent adult) to discuss the life circumstance. If the contact attempt is successful, follow GN 00203.020 to verify the potential claimant’s identity and follow current policies and procedures to take the benefit application(s) or schedule an appointment if requested.

          If the potential claimant indicates that they prefer scheduling an appointment, honor this request and, if needed, provide accommodations such as an interpreter. Technicians may need to manually establish an appointment following normal procedures if none are available and expedited claims taking is required (e.g., terminal illness, MC/WW, etc.). Do not suppress the appointment confirmation notice.

          If no appointments are available, annotate remarks in eLAS. The record will remain on the listing and should be addressed first the next day. Since closeout language will have automatically been given for many Online Protective Filing requests, FOs should make every effort to schedule the appointment prior to the end of the closeout period.

          If the phone contact is unsuccessful, document the contact attempt in the remarks section in eLAS and schedule the first available appointment that is at least seven days out on the appointment calendar.

          c. Priority Indicator Not Present

          If there is no priority indicator, review the remarks in eLAS for remark indicating recent release from incarceration. If present, follow expedited handling in C.2.b. above.

          Schedule the first available appointment that is at least seven days out on the appointment calendar for the claim type already established in eLAS. Ensure that the appointment confirmation notice is sent.

          If no appointments are available, annotate remarks in eLAS. The request will remain on the listing and should be addressed first the next day. Since closeout language will have automatically been given for many Online Protective Filing requests, FOs should make every effort to schedule the appointment prior to the end of the closeout period.

      D. Closeout of Online Protective Filing Requests
      The Online Protective Filing tool provides the required closeout language on the screen to individuals who selected one of the following options:

        · Yourself

        · A minor child (including your own) whose care you are responsible for or for whom a court has appointed you the legal representative OR an incompetent adult whose care you are responsible for or for whom a court has appointed you the legal representative

        · Someone else who is with you as you answer these questions



      Therefore, a manual closeout notice is not required for these requests and the receipt date for the T2CO and T16CO issues on the eLAS Development Worksheet will be automatically prefilled.

      Individuals who selected one of the following options will have eLAS records where the T2CO and T16CO issues will not be receipted in:


        · Your Spouse

        · Someone else who is not with you but has a good reason why they cannot sign their own SSI application at this time


      For these cases, if the claimant misses their scheduled appointment, technicians must take the following actions to close out the protective filing:

        1. Prepare a manual closeout notice in the Document Processing System (DPS) by selecting the “Closeout letter (General)” notice housed in the “Initial Claims” folder in DPS.

        2. Select the Concurrent Header and Concurrent closeout language option provided in DPS to include the proper closeout language for both T2 and T16 in the notice. Be sure to input the correct protective filing date and the appropriate closeout period end dates for T2 and T16, when creating the notice in DPS.

        3. When prompted, select the option for “Other Optional Text” for Universal Text Identifier (UTI) AAA009 and insert the following text in the Other Optional Text field: "We tried to call you, as scheduled, on {insert date}, but we were unable to reach you. If you want to schedule another appointment, please call us.”

        4. Send the closeout notice to the claimant.

        5. After completing the closeout notice, manually receipt in the T2CO and T16CO issues on the eLAS Development Worksheet.


      REMINDER: If the claimant keeps their appointment, but decides not to file, follow existing procedures in GN 00204.012 and SI 00601.037 to issue the proper closeout notice(s) and receipt in the closeout issue(s) on the Development Worksheet screen in eLAS, as appropriate.

      E. Taking a Claim Involving an Online Protective Filing date

      Online Protective Filing information propagates in eLAS as an unverified record (UNVER) as the identity of the claimant was not verified when submitting the appointment request. This means that technicians MUST start the claims interview in eLAS before entering the SSN in the Modernized Claims System (MCS) or the Modernized SSI Claims Systems (MSSICS). Failure to complete this step will result in MCS or MSSICS not receiving the correct protective filing date, and the record in eLAS will remain open indefinitely.

      Review the record and/or unit code in eLAS or the Visitor Intake Process-Rewrite (VIPr) for the EE Name of “ONLPFL.” The Development Worksheet in eLAS will also have an open “UNVER” issue. Online Protective Filing requests can also be identified by the option selected in Online Protective Filing, which is located in eLAS and VIPr remarks. Refer to the Online Protective Filing options in section B above.

      If ONLPFL is present, and the UNVER issue is open, technicians must take steps in eLAS BEFORE beginning the claim in MCS or MSSICS.


        1. Follow instructions in GN 00203.020 to verify the claimant’s identity.

        2. Once you have successfully verified the claimant’s identity using GN 00203.020, on the eLAS Summary screen, change the response for “Number holder contacted and identified successfully?” to “Yes.” This will enable the “Verify PI” button.



        3. Select the Verify PI button, review the information provided via the Online Protective Filing tool with the potential claimant and make any necessary updates. This step will automatically receipt in the UNVER issue.

        4. Once complete, proceed to MCS or MSSICS to take the claim using existing instructions.


      F. Updating Online Protective Filing Requests

      After successfully identifying the caller’s identity, technicians may take the following actions on eLAS records established from Online Protective Filing information:


        1. Schedule, reschedule, and cancel appointments, and print/email appointment confirmation notices,

        2. Verify PI when contact has been made and identity verified at the time of the appointment, and

        3. Make changes to the contact information (if necessary) prior to the appointment on the Verify Claimant Identification screen.


      If the caller is the same third-party reporter (someone else option or spouse) who submitted the information via Online Protective Filing, you may schedule, reschedule, cancel and print/email appointment confirmation notices only if the caller is the same person who submitted the information via Online Protective Filing. The contact information from Online Protective Filing is located in eLAS remarks.

      G. Public Inquiries


        1. Claimant calls the Teleservice Center (TSC) or FO for general inquiry about SSI and other eligible benefits

          If a caller has general questions about the SSI program, assist them using normal procedures. If the individual wants more time to decide whether they wish to file, advise them to access the Online Protective Filing tool from the SSI tile (section) on ssa.gov to tell SSA that they intend to file.

        2. Claimant calls after submitting an Online Protective Filing request

          The Online Protective Filing tool provides a confirmation message on screen and sends an email confirmation (if an email address is provided) stating that SSA will schedule an appointment and send notification within 7-14 business days.

          If a member of the public contacts SSA and states that they used the Online Protective Filing tool and they are calling to schedule the appointment, query eLAS and locate the Online Protective Filing request by confirming the EE name of “ONLPFL.”

          Follow normal procedures to assist the caller with scheduling a telephone appointment with their local office using the eLAS record established by Online Protective Filing. If no appointments are available, add a remark to eLAS and inform the caller that we will contact them when an appointment is available, usually within 7-14 business days.

          If the technician cannot locate an eLAS record, or the caller alleges they received an error message, follow normal procedures to establish an eLAS record and schedule the appointment.


      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 00601.025 – Protective filing – Oral inquiry

      SI 00601.037 - Closing out Protective filings



      EM-22015 REV - Policy and Processing Instructions for Protective Filings Established Using the Online Protective Filing Tool - 05/18/2022