I-4-3-44.Special Notices for the Blind or Visually Impaired

Last Update: 3/28/13 (Transmittal I-4-24)

A. Persons Who May Request a Special Notice Option (SNO)

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:

  1. legally competent blind or visually impaired adults;

  2. legally competent blind or visually impaired children who have attained age 18; and

  3. blind or visually impaired children, age 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.)

NOTE:

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).

B. Special Notice Options

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 in one of the following ways:

  1. Standard print notice by certified mail.

  2. 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.

  3. Braille notice and a standard print notice by first class mail.

  4. Data Compact Disc (CD) in Microsoft Word format and a standard print notice by first class mail.

    NOTE:

    The data CD requires a computer with software that can open Microsoft Word documents.

  5. Large print notice (18 point font) and a standard print notice by first class mail.

  6. 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.

C. Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) Procedures—Initial Screening

Generally, the field office (FO), the Disability Determination Services (DDS), hearing office (HO), or OAO Disability Program Branch (DPB) will assist a blind or visually impaired person in selecting a special notice option.

NOTE:

Paper cases received from an HO should contain a Form HA-L48 (Transmittal by Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) indicating a special notice is necessary. Similarly, those received from DPB should contain a Form HA-505 (Transmittal by Office of Disability Adjudication and Review) indicating a special notice is necessary. In electronic cases, eView will display a SNO link in the header bar. The SNO link will display the person's information and current special notice option selection. For information on special notice indicators in other systems, see NL 01001.050, Where to View a Special Notice Option (SNO) Indicator.

If an OAO Court Case Preparation and Review Branch (CCPRB) 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, a CCPRB analyst will contact the person to offer and determine the desired option. For specific instructions on how to establish or update a SNO selection, refer to the OAO Special Notice Option (SNO) for Blind or Visually Impaired Claimants or Representative Payees User Guide and General Instructions found in the Appeals Review Processing System training material on the OAO intranet website at http://odar.ba.ssa.gov/hq-components/oao/arps/.

D. OAO Procedures—Case Processing

Process these cases using the procedures in the OAO Special Notice Option (SNO) for Blind or Visually Impaired Claimants or Representative Payees User Guide and General Instructions at http://odar.ba.ssa.gov/hq-components/oao/arps/.