As described in GN 01010.835A, legal opinions interpret or clarify a principle of law. As such, they constitute
advice as to how the courts would most likely interpret the laws in question. The
Office of the General Counsel (OGC) prepares legal opinions on questions regarding
either federal laws or the laws of foreign countries. The Office of the Chief Counsel
for a respective region, i.e., Regional Chief Counsel or “RCC,” prepares legal opinions that interpret the laws
of the states within its region relating to coverage, initial Title 2 and Title 16
entitlement, eligibility, and continuing entitlement or eligibility issues.
Before requesting a legal opinion, thoroughly review POMS for national policy instructions,
including current precedent opinions (PR and PS) sections:
PR - Title II Regional Chief Counsel Precedents and
PS - Title XVI Regional Chief Counsel Precedents.
When an established precedent opinion clearly applies, write a formal determination
on a Report of Contact (RPOC/DROC) or Special Determination (SSA-553) as explained
in GN 01010.810, GN 01010.360, GN 01010.365 and GN 01010.800C. Reference the legal precedent opinion, and provide the issue, facts, and determination
as explained in GN 01010.365B.3. Ensure that all public documentation (e.g. birth certificate, divorce decree, etc.) included in the determination is annotated
on the evidence (EVID) screen or in the electronic file per GN 00301.286. Then retain the determination in the electronic file, e.g. in eView or the Claims File User Interface (CFUI).
Do not use legal precedent opinions that are no longer part of the PR and PS POMS
sections. The current version of these POMS sections are the only agency-approved
sources for legal precedent opinions.
For further information about the electronic file, see GN 00301.310, DI 81001.005, and DI 81010.135.