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M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 3, Section A – Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Requests for Information From the Social Security Administration (SSA)

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:

 

1.  General Overview of VA Requests for Information From SSA


Introduction

This topic contains a general overview of VA requests for information from SSA, including

Change Date

June 17, 2014

III.iii.3.A.1.a.  Information-Sharing Requirements

When necessary, the Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must share with each other information a claimant submits to either agency.
Note:  SSA does not charge for records it provides to VA.
Reference:  For more information on the exchange of information between SSA and VA, see

III.iii.3.A.1.b.  General Information About Making a Request

Except as provided in M21-1, Part IX, Subpart ii, 1.C.1, if VA requires information from SSA in order to decide a claim for benefits, request the information in accordance with the instructions in this section.
Important:  Any request for Social Security claim records should include a request for all related SSA administrative decisions.  Administrative decision findings are necessary if the VA claim is ever referred for appeal.

III.iii.3.A.1.c.  Safeguarding Records VA Receives From SSA

Although VA maintains the records it receives from SSA in a claims folder, release of these records or the information contained therein is restricted under the provisions of 38 CFR 1.521.
Exception:  Federal tax information (FTI) (or unearned income), received from SSA in the FTI match is the property of the Internal Revenue Service and requires additional safeguarding.
References:  For more information on

 

2.  VA Requests for Disability Records From SSA

 


Introduction

This topic contains information on VA requests for disability records from SSA, including


Change Date

October 27, 2017

III.iii.3.A.2.a.  SSA-GSO

SSA Government-to-Government Services Online (SSA-GSO) is a web-based interface that SSA owns and operates.  Access to SSA-GSO allows VA employees to request and receive electronic copies of claimants’ SSA disability records through a secure, electronic messaging system.
SSA-GSO is available to authorized users during the timeframes shown in the table below:
Day(s)
Timeframe
Monday – Friday
5:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST)
Saturday
5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., EST
Sunday
8:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., EST

III.iii.3.A.2.b.  RO Responsibilities With Regard to the Use of SSA-GSO

Regional offices (ROs) are required to
Veterans Service Center and pension management center management are responsible for designating employees to assume the following roles for the purpose of controlling and monitoring access to the interface:
  • Authorization Designee
  • Super User, and
  • Alternate Super User.
Note:  SSA allows only a limited number of employees at each RO to have access to SSA-GSO.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.3.A.2.c.  Procedures for Requesting SSA Records Through the SSA-GSO Interface

The table below shows the procedure for
  • submitting a request for disability records from SSA through SSA-GSO
  • documenting the request, and
  • placing the request in the claims folder.
Important:  If SSA-GSO is inaccessible or inoperable for an extended period of time, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.7 for faxing a request to SSA.
Step Action

1

Log on to the SSA-GSO website.

2

Follow the instructions in the SSA-GSO User Guide for submitting a request through SSA-GSO.
Important:  Users must use the following standard request format:
Please send SSA medical records for this claimant.
Claimant’s Name: 
SSN:
VA File #:
DOB:  [mm/dd/yyyy]
VA Contact:                     Email:       Phone Number:
VA Backup Contact:        Email:       Phone Number:
VARO City and State:
First Request Date: 
Follow-up Request Date and remarks:
Note:  The FIRST and FOLLOW-UP REQUEST DATE fields are only required if submitting a subsequent request.

3

Take a screenshot of the request as it appears in the SENT folder.

4

Place a copy the screenshot in the claims folder.
Utilize the following attributes when uploading the document to the electronic claims folder (eFolder):
In the document field … Enter …
SUBJECT SSA-GSO Request.
CATEGORY – TYPE Correspondence – Correspondence.
CONTENT SOURCE SSA.
DATE OF RECEIPT the date the request was submitted.

5

  • Generate a letter to the claimant selecting the development action labeled SSA medical evidence requested.
  • No further action is required until the 30-day suspense expires.

Note:  Selection of the paragraph named above creates a corresponding tracked item and establishes a suspense date that expires 30 days from the current date.


III.iii.3.A.2.d.  Following-up on SSA-GSO Requests

Use the table below when following-up on a SSA-GSO request.  after the expiration of the 30-day suspense period.
Step Action

1

Log on to the SSA-GSO website.

2

Was an e-mail response was received from SSA?
  • If yes, follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.2.e.  No further action in this table is required.
  • If no,
    • complete a follow-up request according to the instructions in the SSA-GSO User Guide, and
    • update the tracked item to show a follow-up request was submitted with a 15-day suspense.

3

Was an e-mail response to the follow-up request received from SSA?
Note:  If necessary, the Super User may seek assistance from Compensation Service by sending an e-mail to VAVBAWAS/CO/SSA-GSO.

III.iii.3.A.2.e.  Accessing Records Through the SSA-GSO Interface

Use the table below to access records sent through the SSA-GSO interface.
Step Action

1

Log on to the SSA-GSO website.

2

Review the SSA response.  Use the table below to determine what action is required next.
If the response from SSA … Then medical records …
indicates the medical records have been destroyed have been shredded in accordance with the SSA record control schedule criteria.  A finalnotification letter must be sent to the claimant.
states that after exhaustive and comprehensive searches, they were not able to locate medical records and further efforts will be futile used to make the determination could not be located.  A finalnotification letter must be sent to the claimant.
states there are no medical records were not submitted to support a claim for SSA benefits.  A finalnotification letter is not necessary.
contains the medical records should be uploaded to the eFolder.

3

Download the file(s) SSA provided in response to the request and save it to a local or shared hard drive.
Important:  Responses that SSA posts on the SSA-GSO website are automatically deleted from the website after 20 calendar days.

4

Upload the file(s) SSA provided into the claimant’s eFolder.
Utilize the following attributes when uploading the document(s):
In the document field … Enter …
SUBJECT SSA-GSO File [record number] of[total number of records].
CATEGORY – TYPE Medical Records:  Medical Treatment Records – Furnished by SSA.
CONTENT SOURCE SSA.
DATE OF RECEIPT the date the response was received.
Exception:  When uploading a negative response, enter SSA-GSO negative response as the SUBJECT.
Note:  Additional actions are required if a paper claims folder exists.  The claims processor must also
  • print a screenshot of the first record uploaded into the eFolder
  • annotate the screenshot with the following text: Full record is in the eFolder, and
  • place the screenshot in the paper claims folder.

5

Utilize the appropriate claims-processing system (based on the type of claim being processed) and mark the tracked item as received.  Use the date SSA responded to the request for disability records as the date of receipt.

6

Delete any records that were saved to a local or shared hard drive during the download/upload activities described in this table.
Reference:  For more information about uploading documents in the Veterans Benefits Management System (VBMS), see the job aid titled Adding Documents in VBMS eFolders.

III.iii.3.A.2.f.Types of Records SSA Provides to VA

SSA provides VA the records associated with the disability determinations SSA makes for its claimants.
In response to a request for information from VA, SSA provides
  • either a photocopy of the evidence or a certification on SSA Form 704, Certification of Contents of Document(s) or Record(s), which is acceptable for VA purposes, if other requirements are met, and
  • a statement signed by an SSA employee on the back of each photocopy, showing
    • whether or not the original document appears to be genuine
    • the purported age of the document, and
    • whether there appear to be any alterations to the original document.
Exception:  SSA does not provide records to VA that should already be in VA’s possession or to which VA has access, such as VA medical records.

 

3.  Obtaining Information Through FOLQ

 


Introduction

This topic contains information about the FOLQ, including


Change Date

September 13, 2018

III.iii.3.A.3.a.  Definition:  FOLQ

The Federal On-Line Query (FOLQ) is a read-only, person-specific, real-time query developed by SSA for Federal agencies to obtain the SSA data described inM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.3.b.

III.iii.3.A.3.b.  Purpose of FOLQ

FOLQ provides the following to authorized Federal agencies

  • verification of Social Security numbers (SSNs)
  • Title II, Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Insurance data
  • Title XVI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) data, and
  • a limited payment history file.
Access to this information enables VA to assist Veterans and their survivors by obtaining instant verification of eligibility information.

III.iii.3.A.3.c.  How to Access FOLQ

Access FOLQ through VBMS or Share using the SSA INQUIRY command.
Note:  VBMS permits direct upload of inquiry results to the corresponding eFolder.
References:  For more information on

III.iii.3.A.3.d.  When to Use FOLQ

Use FOLQ to obtain or verify a Veteran’s/claimant’s

  • vital information, such as SSN, address, and/or date of birth and death
  • Social Security benefit information
  • unearned income history, and
  • SSI information.

 

4.  VA Requests for Verification of SSA Monthly Payments

 


Introduction

This topic contains information on VA requests for verification of SSA monthly payments, including


Change Date

September 13, 2018

III.iii.3.A.4.a.Using the SSA Inquiry Command in Share

Use the SSA INQUIRY command in VBMS or Share to verify the monthly amount of benefits SSA paid to a

  • Veteran
  • Veteran’s spouse or surviving spouse
  • Veteran’s surviving child(ren), or
  • Veteran’s parent(s).
The SSA INQUIRY command requires the user to provide
  • the Veteran’s/claimant’s
    • name
    • SSN
    • date of birth, and
    • VA file number, and
  • the reason for inquiry for each individual for whom information is needed.

III.iii.3.A.4.b.  Combined SSA Payment to a Veteran and Spouse

SSA may issue a combined payment to a beneficiary and his/her spouse, although the benefit is based on the employment of only one spouse, if

  • both the wage earner and spouse reside at the same address
  • neither spouse
    • is incompetent, nor
    • voices any objection to combining of the payment, and
  • no other reason exists that would make combining of the payment undesirable, such as entitlement by the dependent spouse to old-age insurance or Social Security benefits on his/her own account.
Important:  Consider only the amount of the combined payment that represents the Veteran’s portion as his/her income.

III.iii.3.A.4.c.Combined SSA Payment to a Surviving Spouse and Child(ren)

Under SSA procedures, a surviving spouse with a child or children may continue to receive Social Security benefits in his/her own name but, because of earnings, one or more of these checks must be for the benefit of the child or children in his/her custody.

 

5.  SSA Field Offices


Introduction

This topic contains information on SSA field offices, including


Change Date

June 17, 2014

III.iii.3.A.5.a.  Functions of SSA Field Offices

SSA field offices generally offer the full range of Social Security services, including

  • applying for new or replacement Social Security cards
  • applying for Social Security and SSI benefits
  • making changes to benefits information, and
  • assisting eligible Medicare beneficiaries with the cost of their prescription drugs under the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.
The field offices also develop claims for Social Security/SSI benefits and prepare awards and denials.

III.iii.3.A.5.b.  Contacting SSA Field Offices

SSA field offices are located in major cities throughout the United States.  Use theSSA Office Locator to

  • determine the address of the nearest SSA field office, and/or
  • obtain contact information for a specific SSA field office.
Notes:
  • Contact the nearest SSA field office to obtain information about the status of a claim for Social Security/SSI benefits.
  • When reference is made within M21-1 to the “parallel district office of SSA,” it refers to the SSA field office nearest to the RO adjudicating the claim.

 

6.  SSA PSCs


Introduction

This topic contains information on SSA’s PSCs, including


Change Date

June 17, 2014

III.iii.3.A.6.a.  Locations Where SSA Files Are Maintained

The table below identifies the locations where SSA files are maintained.
SSA files pertaining to … Are maintained in SSA’s …
tax contributions Baltimore office.
benefit payments regional program service centers (PSCs).

III.iii.3.A.6.b.  Functions of PSCs

PSCs process

  • favorable Title II Disability Determination Services and Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) Disability Hearing Office (DHO) reconsidered determinations
  • favorable Administrative Law Judge and Appeals Council disability decisions, and
  • ODAR’s DHOs Title II cessation determinations when they involve vocational rehabilitation.

III.iii.3.A.6.c.  Directing Questions to the Appropriate PSC

To ask questions specific to benefit payment amounts and calculations, or if directed to contact a PSC by a local SSA field office, use the information in the table below to identify the appropriate PSC to contact.
Notes:
  • Although SSNs are composed of nine digits, grouped as ###-##-####, identify the appropriate PSC by referring to the first three digits of the SSN.
  • Each PSC services cases within a specified range of account numbers, regardless of the place of residence or the place of death of the holder of the account number.
PSC Fax Number and Follow-Up Contact Information
Account Number Ranges
Northeastern PSC (PSC 1)
Inquiry & Expediting Unit
Fax: 718-557-3570
Follow-up: 718-557-3501
  • 001 through 134
  • 729, and
  • 805 through 808
Mid-Atlantic PSC (PSC 2)
Fax: 215-597-5200
Follow-up: 215-597-3552
  • 135 through 222
  • 232 through 236
  • 577 through 584
  • 596 through 599
  • 691 through 699
  • 809 through 826
Southeastern PSC (PSC 3)
Inquiry and Expediting Staff (I&E Staff)
Fax: 205-801-2622
Follow-up:
  • Janice Shoemaker (I&E Staff) – 205-801-2601, or
  • DeWayne Williams – 205-801-2287
  • 223 through 231
  • 237 through 267
  • 400 through 428
  • 587 through 595
  • 654 through 658
  • 666 through 675
  • 681 through 690
  • 730
  • 752 through 763
  • 766 through 804
Great Lakes PSC (PSC 4)
Fax: 312-575-4251
Follow-up: Stephen Speers – 312-575-4789
  • 268 through 302
  • 316 through 399
  • 700 through 728
  • 731
Western PSC (PSC 5)
Operations Analysis Section
Fax: 510-970-1424
Follow-up: Mario Gutierrez – 510-970-1417
  • 501 through 504
  • 516 through 524
  • 526 through 576
  • 586
  • 600 through 626
  • 646 through 647
  • 650 through 653
  • 680
  • 733 through 751
  • 764 through 765
  • 827 through 867
Mid-America PSC (PSC 6)
NRC
Fax: 816-257-5106
Follow-up: 816-257-5106
  • 303 through 315
  • 429 through 500
  • 505 through 515
  • 525
  • 585
  • 627 through 645
  • 648 through 649
  • 659 through 665
  • 676 through 679
  • 732
  • 868 through 899

 

7.  Alternate Means of Requesting Disability Records From SSA

 


Introduction

This topic discusses an alternate means of requesting disability records from SSA, including


Change Date

October 27, 2017

III.iii.3.A.7.a.  When ROs Should Fax Requests for Disability Records to SSA

The SSA-GSO website referenced in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.2 must be the primary method for requesting records from SSA.
ROs must attempt to request records through the SSA-GSO website before using the alternative fax method.  Fax requests for disability records to SSA only if theSSA-GSO website is inaccessible or inoperable for an extended period of time.

III.iii.3.A.7.b.  Instructions for Faxing Requests for Disability Records to SSA

Follow the instructions in the table below if it becomes necessary to fax a request for disability records to SSA.
Reminder:  This method should only be used if the SSA-GSO website is unavailable as discussed in M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.7.a.
Step Action

1

Complete SSA Form SSANRC-15, FAX Request for Medical Records/Information from the Social Security Administration National Record Center (SSANRC).
Note:  In the field labeled Telephone # & Extension on SSA Form SSANRC-15, enter the direct phone number (and extension, if applicable) of the employee that faxed the request. Do not enter VA’s toll-free number.
Reference:  To view a blank version of SSA Form SSANRC-15, seeM21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 3.A.7.d.

2

Fax the completed SSA Form SSANRC-15 without a cover sheet to the SSA National Records Center (SSANRC) in Independence, MO at (816) 257-5106.

3

Annotate SSA Form SSANRC-15 to reflect the date the form is faxed to SSA.

4

Place the completed SSA Form SSANRC 15 in the claims folder.
Utilize the following attributes when uploading the document to the eFolder:
In the document field … Enter …
SUBJECT SSA Records Fax Request.
CATEGORY – TYPE Correspondence Miscellaneous:  Fax Cover Sheet.
CONTENT SOURCE SSA.
DATE OF RECEIPT the date the request was submitted.

III.iii.3.A.7.c.  Following Up on Faxed Requests to SSA for Disability Records

Follow the steps in the table below if SSA does not respond to a faxed request for disability records within 30 days.
Step Action

1

2

  • Notify the claimant that the VA has not yet received the records it requested from SSA.
  • Inform the claimant of the follow-up action taken.
  • Invite the claimant to provide the disability records requested from SSA within 15 days.

3

Did the RO receive the requested records since the expiration of the 15 day suspense period?

  • If yes,
    • process the claim, and
    • proceed no further.
  • If no, take the actions described in Steps 4 through 6concurrently.

4

  • Follow up a second time on the faxed request by contacting SSA by telephone.
  • Ask SSA to respond to the follow-up request within 10 days.
  • Document the telephone conversation on VA Form 27-0820.

5

  • Attempt to contact the claimant by telephone for the same purposes described in Step 2.
  • If contact is
    • made, ask the claimant to provide the disability records VA requested from SSA within 10 days, or
    • not made, send the claimant a finalnotification letter.
  • Document successful and unsuccessful attempts to contact the claimant by telephone on VA Form 27-0820.

6

Notify Compensation Service’s SSA liaison of the delay in obtaining the disability records by sending an e-mail to VAVBAWAS/CO/SSA.

7

Continue processing the claim after the expiration of the 10 day suspense period or the records are received, whichever is earlier.
Note:  For each follow-up attempt, ensure that the corresponding tracked items and suspense dates are updated.
Reference:  For more information on sending the claimant a final notification letter, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, 1.C.1.e.

III.iii.3.A.7.d.  Exhibit:  SSA Form SSANRC-15

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