I-3-1-60.Spanish Language Communications

Last Update: 9/08/05 (Transmittal I-3-36)

A. General

Notices which set forth appeal rights must be provided in Spanish to individuals who either request Spanish language notices or meet certain criteria.

When communication in Spanish must be provided with notices of final Appeals Council actions, i.e., there is the right to court review, the Council must send a Spanish language notice with the English notice. These individuals will also be provided other notices and forms of the Appeals Council in Spanish to the extent that such notices and forms are available.

B. Criteria for Identifying Individuals Who Will Receive Spanish Language Notices

Spanish language notices, forms, etc., are provided throughout SSA. The field office (FO) usually identifies individuals who meet the criteria for receiving notices in Spanish. When one of the following criteria is met, the FO interviewer tells the individual that SSA will send a Spanish language notice of appeal rights (in addition to the English notice) in the event the individual's application is denied, and other notices, forms, etc., will be provided in Spanish, unless the person waives the right to receive notice in Spanish.

  1. The application shows that the individual was born in Puerto Rico or in any country where Spanish is the predominant language.

  2. The individual has a Spanish surname.

  3. The individual lives in a known Spanish-speaking area.

  4. The interview is conducted in Spanish or with the assistance of an interpreter.

  5. The individual has difficulty communicating in English during the interview and appears to speak Spanish as a native language.

If none of the above five criteria is met but other circumstances indicate Spanish language communications would be useful, the FO interviewer will also ask whether the individual would like to receive notices in Spanish. Additionally, a claimant who specifically requests Spanish language notices, regardless of criteria, must receive them.

The FO documents a claimant's decision regarding receipt of Spanish notices on the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) for Title II claims and the Supplemental Security Record (SSR) for Title XVI claims. Spanish language indicators appear in the BENEFIT field on the MBR and the PRSN field on the SSR.

C. When to Provide Spanish Language Notices

When a case reaches the Appeals Council level, the individual's preference regarding receipt of notices in Spanish should be clearly documented. If not, OAO will provide a Spanish language notice to an individual when:

  1. One of the five criteria above is met, and there is no documentation showing that the claimant does not wish to receive notices in Spanish;


    The criteria in items 4 and 5 above are met if the hearing was conducted in Spanish or with an interpreter or the individual had difficulty with English at the hearing and appears to speak Spanish as a native language.

  2. The claimant has requested Spanish language communications or has corresponded with SSA in Spanish; or

  3. The claimant was provided Spanish language notices at the hearing level and has not indicated in writing that he or she does not wish to receive notices in Spanish.

D. Procedures When Spanish Language Notice Required

The appropriate Spanish cover notice must be used (in addition to the English notice) when the Appeals Council issues a denial of review, a dismissal, a notice of Appeals Council review, a remand or a decision to an individual who qualifies to receive Spanish notices. See the Appeals Text Guide for selection of the appropriate Spanish cover notice.

E. Procedures When Spanish Language Notice Required

Both the English and Spanish cover notices will contain the claimant's name and address and the claim number. The Spanish notice will be attached as a cover to the English notice, and both notices will be mailed to the claimant and the representative, if applicable. Include copies of both the Spanish and English versions in the claim and appeals files.

F. Translation of Spanish Documents

If an analyst receives a case with pertinent documents in Spanish that have not been translated into English (e.g., exhibits, letter between the ALJ and claimant/representative, claimant's birth certificate, etc.), the analyst must obtain translation of the documents before preparing a recommendation to the Appeals Council. The analyst should keep a photocopy of the document(s) and send the original(s) with a route slip to the appropriate Disability Program Branch.