I-4-0-40.Special Notices for the Blind or Visually Impaired
Last Update: 6/26/23 (Transmittal I-4-91)
A. Persons Who May Request a Special Notice Option
Generally, title II and title XVI claimants, beneficiaries, recipients, and representative payees who are blind or visually impaired may request a special notice option (SNO). For the purpose of this provision, a blind or visually impaired person includes:
Legally competent blind or visually impaired adults;
Legally competent blind or visually impaired children who have attained age 18; and
Blind or visually impaired children, age 15-17, who receive direct payment of title II or title XVI benefits. (See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) GN 00502.070 for more information on direct payment and capability of minor children.)
When a claimant requests a SNO delivery option, Office of Appellate Operations (OAO) staff will prepare a SNO, even if the record does not establish a claimant is blind or visually impaired.
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 and SI 02301.010 How to Act on Reports (which provides 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, they may elect to receive notices from SSA, in English or Spanish, in one of the following ways:
Standard print notice by certified mail.
Standard print notice by first class mail and a follow-up telephone call to read the notice within five business days from the date of the notice.
Braille notice and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Data Compact Disc (CD) containing the notice in Microsoft Word document format and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Large print notice (18-point font) and a standard print notice by first class mail.
Audio CD and a standard print notice by first class mail.
The data and audio CD options above require access to a CD player.
Title II and title XVI claimants, beneficiaries, recipients, and representative payees who are blind or visually impaired may request an “alternative” accommodation instead of those noted above. SSA's Office of the General Counsel 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 Procedures
Generally, the field office, Disability Determination Services, hearing office, or OAO Disability Program Branch will assist a blind or visually impaired person in selecting a special notice option.
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 relevant training material on the OAO intranet website.