SSR 80-17


PURPOSE: To set out a new policy on treating the date of an oral inquiry as the filing date for supplemental security income (SSI) benefits. In addition, this statement provides a uniform 60-day period form the date of a notice of ineligibility based on a written or oral inquiry during which the filing date is protected.

CITATIONS (AUTHORITY): Section 1631(e)(1)(A) of the Social Security Act; Regulations No. 16, sections 416.335(d) and 416.336; SSI Study Group Report; Commissioner's Decision of March 15, 1977.

PERTINENT HISTORY: The SSI regulations (section 416.335) have provided that, under certain conditions, the date of a written inquiry that expresses an intent to file a claim, may be used as the filing date of a claim for SSI. Where such a written statement has been received, the Social Security Administration has notified the inquirer in writing that a formal determination on his or her right to benefits will be made if an application form is filed within 30 days of the date of the notice. If an application form has been filed within this period, the date of the written inquiry has been used as the filing date.

There has been no procedure for establishing a filing date based on the date of a comparable oral inquiry. The SSI Study Group, which evaluated the SSI program, recommended that a written record be made of oral inquiries for SSI. The process of informally denying persons inquiring about SSI eligibility was criticized as affording inadequate protection to the inquirer if there was any misunderstanding at the time of the inquiry. A proposal submitted to the Commissioner recommended that a written record be made of each oral inquiry about SSI which did not result in the filing of a claim. An individual who was advised that he or she was ineligible for SSI was to be given a written notice showing the reason for ineligibility. The notice would also inform the inquirer that (1) if he or she wished to receive a formal determination, including the right to appeal, it would be necessary to file a claim and that (2) if a claim was filed within 60 days of the date of the notice, and eligibility was established, the date of the oral inquiry would be used as the filing date.

The proposal was approved by the Commissioner for testing purposes. After a test was conducted, the results were reported to the Commissioner, who then approved the proposal for national implementation.

POLICY STATEMENT: (1) An individual inquiring in person (or by phone) about SSI eligibility will be sent a written notice showing the reason for ineligibility. The notice will also advise the inquirer that a formal decision cannot be made unless an application form is filed, and that if an application form is filed within 60 days of the date on the notice, the date of the oral inquiry will be used as the filing date. (2) The 60-day period will also apply to written inquiries.

EFFECTIVE DATE: These policies are effective July 2, 1979, the date of publication of final regulations in the Federal Register (44 FR 38456).

FURTHER INFORMATION: (1) The revised policy applies to all oral inquiries (in person or by phone) about SSI eligibility. All persons inquiring about their own SSI eligibility who do not a file a claim will be given the prescribed notice, a copy of which will be retained in the district office for at least the 60-day period. The procedure will also apply to inquiries on behalf of individuals for whom the inquirer could have properly filed an application; the notice will be mailed to the inquirer if the potential claimant is a minor or is incompetent. (2) If the potential SSI claimant dies either before a written notice is sent, or within the 60-day period mentioned in the notice, the notice will be sent to the individual's eligible spouse, if any. This notice will advise the spouse of the potential SSI claimant that if an application form is filed on behalf of the deceased within 60 days of the date of the notice, the date of initial inquiry will be considered as the filing date.

CROSS-REFERENCES: Claims Manual sections 2021.1, 2022, 2024 and 12101.1-12101.17; Program Policy Statement No. 48, Title XVI: Alerting Title II Applicants To Possible Title XVI Eligibility.

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