I-2-5-76.Obtaining Assistance in Processing Foreign Claims and Evidence

Last Update: 11/22/11 (Transmittal I-2-85)

A. Obtaining Translation of Foreign Language Document

If documents necessary for the development of a claim are in a foreign language, hearing offices are responsible for the cost of obtaining translations. Lists of non-SSA translators, who contract to provide such services, are offered by the Translation and Priority Work Unit (TPWU) in the Division of International Operations (DIO), a component of the Office of Earnings and International Operations. Hearing office staff may also obtain a current list of contractors under the Multiple Award Schedule from the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Acquisition Service eLibrary by searching the phrase “Translation and Interpretation Services.” If a required language is not covered by either database, hearing office staff may request, through their management chain, that such language be added to the TPWU database.

  • Each document to be translated must have a completed Form SSA-533 accompanying it.

  • If more than one SSA-533 is submitted for a party, indicate under Item 3, the total number of documents to be translated for that individual (one of four, two of four, three of four, etc.).

  • Item 5 on the SSA-533 must state the facts needing proof if known (date of birth, date of marriage, etc.).

  • The translator must sign the translation.

  • A translation form must include any descriptive information, such as the language involved, the type of document, the issuing agency, etc.

  • The translation must be of the original document or a certified copy.

  • The original document and the translation must be made exhibits.

B. Jurisdiction and Authority of the Office of International Operations (OIO), Division of International Operations (DIO)

OIO/DIO has overall responsibility for the administration of Social Security programs abroad, including liaison and coordination, as well as Field Office (FO), Disability Determination Services (DDS), and Program Service Center (PSC) functions. For development of international cases pending at the hearing level, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) must request assistance from OIO/DIO through the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) regional office, except for claimants residing in Canada or Mexico. Instructions for claimants living in Canada and Mexico can be found in subsection D below.

C. Obtaining Foreign Law Interpretation

An ALJ may not take administrative notice of foreign law. Therefore, the ALJ must develop adequate proof of relevant foreign law and admit this evidence into the record at the hearing level. If the ALJ needs proof or interpretation of a foreign law, he or she must request the information from the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) through the OHO regional office.

D. Obtaining Foreign Evidence

SSA uses the FOs located near the Canadian and Mexican borders to obtain development in those countries, and has agreements with other agencies for obtaining development in other countries.

  • For development in Canada and Mexico, the ALJ or Hearing Office (HO) staff must request the development through the appropriate border area FO by following the procedure outlined in I-2-5-70, Obtaining Evidence Through an SSA Field Office.

  • For development in other countries, the ALJ or HO staff must request the development through the OHO regional office, which obtains the needed assistance from OIO/DIO.


For information concerning HO jurisdiction in processing foreign claims, see I-2-0-72, Assigning and Processing Requests for Hearing Filed by Claimants Who Do Not Reside in the United States.