Identification Number:
CJB 12-02 REV
Intended Audience: All ODAR Hearing Level Employees
Originating Office:ODAR Office of the Chief Administrative Law Judge
Title:Instructions on Acquiring Foreign Language Interpreters
Type:Chief Judge Bulletins
Link To Reference:
Retention Date: Until HALLEX Revisions Published

Revision: 09/28/2012 - This revision reflects the new instructions for using SSA’s Telephone Interpreter Services per EM-12041.

This guidance is being published to instruct hearing office staff to follow standard acquisition procedures consistent with AIMS Materiel Resources Manual (MRM) Chapter 6, when obtaining an interpreter. The procedures listed in HALLEX I-2-1-70(D) are outdated, and we are issuing this CJB guidance pending their revision. Also, this CJB supersedes the August 18, 2003, CALJ memorandum titled “Standardized Letter / Timesheet for Acquiring Interpreters / Translators.

When a claimant has limited proficiency in English, it is our policy to arrange for a qualified interpreter to assist the claimant and the ALJ at the hearing. We will provide an interpreter free of charge, to any individual requesting language assistance, or when it is evident that such assistance is necessary to ensure that the individual is not disadvantaged. We do not require individuals needing language assistance to provide their own interpreters. See HALLEX I-2-6-10.

HO staff should follow these procedures when obtaining an interpreter.

Telephone Interpreter Service [TIS]: Interpreters may be obtained by contacting Language Select at 1-800-200-7236. For specific instructions on using this service, see EM-12041 New Telephone Interpreter Services (TIS) Instructions.

When an in-person interpreter is required, and the HO maintains a list of qualified interpreters (including Sign Language interpreters as covered in HALLEX I-2-1-72), the HO should follow the procedures set forth in AIMS Chapter 6 et. seq. concerning the acquisition of services from an interpreter.

    • Acquisition orders may only be placed by a person with authority delegated by the Office of Acquisition and Grants (OAG).
    • Interpreters are paid via government credit card (preferred method) or third-party draft.
    • The preferred method of contact when hiring interpreters is via telephone or email, with a written confirmation of the intent to appear at the hearing sent by the interpreter via email. The claimant’s Personally Identifiable Information may not be included in these emails.
    • If the order is complex, e.g., the requirements have very specific terms and conditions with which the vendor must comply or the vendor does not accept a government purchase card, a written order using OF-347 may be used. However, this is not preferred due to the time and cost of processing.
If an in-person interpreter is required and the HO does not maintain a list of qualified interpreters, check the Translator and Interpreter Database under the Multi-language Gateway to determine if interpreters are available in the area.

REMINDER: HALLEX I-2-5-76(A) contains procedures for obtaining translation of foreign language documents.

Direct all program-related and technical questions to your RO support staff. RO support staff may refer questions or unresolved issues to their Headquarters’ contacts.

CJB 12-02 REV - Instructions on Acquiring Foreign Language Interpreters - 09/28/2012