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|FOIA | Freedom of Information Act|
Guide to FOIA Requests
Stimulus Payments NEW!
The Freedom of Information Act allows members of the public to request records from various Federal government agencies. The FOIA was established to make the federal government accountable to the public for its actions and prevents agencies from having secret policies.
SSA prepares many documents for public distribution - such as leaflets about our benefits programs, press releases and reports. Many of these documents are available on SSA's Internet site at www.socialsecurity.gov. We encourage you to browse the site for documents that interest you. We do not process requests for public information materials as Freedom of Information Act requests.
Administrative staff manuals of the Social Security Administration and Instructions to staff personnel that contain policies, procedures, or interpretations that affect the public are available for inspection and copying.
You can inspect and copy the following SSA records online,
in any field office, at our headquarters in
Operations Manual System (POMS)
State and Local Coverage Handbook for the Social Security Administration and State Social Security Administrators
The Handbook is also available online at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/slge/slch.htm
SSA Organizational Chart
Hearings, Appeals and Litigation Law Manual (HALLEX)http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OP_Home/hallex/hallex.htm
Security Electronic Freedom of Information(eFOIA)
You can request a copy of the following online:
You can make payment online with a secure online payment via pay.gov. You can use these credit cards:
Other Online FOIA Requests
If you would like to make an online FOIA request for records other than a photocopy of an application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) or a computer extract of a Social Security Card Application, you may make your request online using the eForm. However, there may be a fee for the information you request. After we receive your request we will let you know if there is a fee. This type of request cannot be paid for online.
INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR REQUEST
How Do I Get This Information?
Online service is available (Eastern time):
Mail In Requests
It is easy to make a written FOIA request by mail. No form is needed. We process FOIA requests in two locations, depending on the type of request. Mark both the envelope and its contents: “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST” or “INFORMATION REQUEST.” Be sure to include your name and address on your request. It is a good idea to include a daytime phone number or e-mail address in case we need to contact you about your request. Do not include a return envelope.
There is a form available to request copies of applications for a Social Security Number (Form SS-5) for people who are deceased. Form SSA-711 (Adobe reader required to view) may be used for this purpose; however, you do not need to use the form. Address your request to:
Social Security Administration
You can use Form SSA-714 (Adobe reader required) to pay by credit card.
Make checks or money orders payable to the Social Security Administration.
DO NOT SEND CASH
Requests for records of Social Security number (SSN) holders, claimants and wage earners, are covered by the fee schedule below.
Many numident records of older individuals, primarily those born in 1910 or earlier, are abbreviated records that do not contain the names of the individual’s parents and may not contain the place of birth.
The Social Security Administration did not begin keeping records until November 1936.
We can not search for the SSN of anyone born before 1865.
*The Numident record is a computer extract of information from the original application for a Social Security card.
Send all other FOIA requests to:
Social Security Administration
If you want to request a record which we don't publish or which we don't make available in one of our offices, mark your envelope and its contents “FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST” and include the following:
DO NOT INCLUDE A RETURN ENVELOPE
You can also write or give your written request to any Social Security field office.
There may be a fee for information you requested. We will let you know if your request will cost more than $250 before we start a search. The FOIA fees are based on the grade of employees doing the work and the amount of time spent on your request, plus 10 cents per page for photocopying.
The Hourly Fees for Search and Review Are:
The FOIA does not require agencies to disclose all records. Some examples of records we may not disclose are:
If you are requesting your own record(s), we will process your request under the Privacy Act first, instead of under the FOIA.
If you are requesting another living person’s record, you need the person’s written consent to disclose the record to you. In these cases, send your request, with the signed consent, to your local Social Security office .
If you need your records in connection with your claim for Social Security benefits, or if you are a representative of someone pursuing a claim for Social Security benefits; send your request to your local Social Security office.
We try to handle your request within 20 days from the date we receive it. Sometimes it may take us longer depending on the difficulty of finding the record and how much other work we have. We process requests under a “first in” “first out” basis using the following categories:
Simple requests where the receiving office has all the information it needs for the answer. These requests will take the least amount of time to process.
These requests often require the receiving office to obtain more information from another SSA office(s).
Requests that require:
These requests take the longest to answer.
We provide expedited handling when the request:
If you think your request should be expedited, please explain your reasons fully in your request. Within 10 days from the date of your request, we will decide whether we will expedite it and notify you of our decision.
Sometimes we cannot disclose some or all of the records you requested. When we cannot disclose some or all of the records you requested, we will send you a written denial, explaining our reason(s) and your appeal rights.
Policies & Other Important Information | Site
Last reviewed or modified Wednesday Apr 01, 2009