Last Update: 3/28/13 (Transmittal I-2-91)
Title II and title XVI claimants, beneficiaries, recipients, and representative payees who are blind or visually impaired may request a special notice option. For the purpose of this provision, a blind or visually impaired person includes:
legally competent blind or visually impaired adults;
legally competent blind or visually impaired children who have attained age 18; and
blind or visually impaired children, ages 15-17, who receive direct payment of title II or title XVI benefits. (See POMS GN 00502.005 and GN 00502.070 for more information on direct payment and capability of minor children).
A person who meets the Social Security Administration's (SSA) definition of “proper applicant” or “first party reporter” may request a special notice option on behalf of a title II or title XVI claimant, beneficiary, or recipient who is blind or visually impaired. For more information on proper applicants or first party reporters, refer to POMS GN 00204.003 Proper Applicant, GN 03001.012 Determining the Identity of A Person Making A First Or Third Party Report, and SI 02301.010 How to Act on Reports (information on a first party report for title XVI).
When a blind or visually impaired person, as described in section A, requests a special notice option, he or she may elect to receive notices from SSA in English or Spanish (HALLEX I-2-3-45) in one of the following ways:
Standard print notice by certified mail.
Standard print notice by first class mail and a follow-up telephone call to read the notice within 5 business days from the date of the notice.
Braille notice and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Data compact disc (CD) in Microsoft Word format and a standard print notice by first class mail.
The data CD requires a computer with software that can open Microsoft Word documents.
Large print notice (18 point font) and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Audio CD and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Title II and title XVI claimants, beneficiaries, recipients, and representative payees who are blind or visually impaired may request an “alternative” accommodation to those noted above. SSA's Office of the General Counsel (OGC) decides whether to approve these requests on a case-by-case basis. For more information, see NL 01001.300, Procedure for Request for Other Special Notice Accommodations for the Blind or Visually Impaired.
Generally, the field office (FO) or the Disability Determination Services (DDS) assists the blind or visually impaired person in selecting a special notice option and records the selection on the application, the MBR, the SSR, SSA-831, SSA-832, SSA-636, SSA-3367, or SSA-5002. See generally POMS NL 01001.000, Special Notice Options for the Blind or Visually Impaired. However, if a hearing office (HO) receives an inquiry from a blind or visually impaired person who has not selected a special notice option, or who wishes to change a previously selected option, the HO must offer the options to the person. The Special Notice Option User Guide, which contains HO procedures, can be accessed through the user guide link found at http://odar.ba.ssa.gov/resources/workload/hearing-level/dgs/.
If the case is paper, annotate the HA-5051 to indicate that the blind or visually impaired person has selected a special notice option and the type of special notice option selected. If the case is electronic, changing the flag in eView is sufficient to alert other components of the special notice option selection.