TN 21 (05-06)
GN 00301.275 Retention or Return of Documents
A. Policy - Basic Rule
When retention of evidence is necessary, retain the document(s) presented by the claimant only if the claimant states during the interview or in his letter that the document can be kept permanently. Do not ask the claimant whether the document may be retained; assume that he is not willing to give it up unless he states otherwise.
1. Fee Paid by Claimant
When the claimant has a document, for which he has paid a fee, sent directly from the custodian to the FO, send the original to the claimant after a photocopy (certified as provided in GN 00301.095) or an SSA-704-F3 or SSA-4385 certification is made for the claims file.
2. Fee Not Paid by Claimant
If the claimant has a document sent directly from the custodian to the FO, and he/she has not paid a fee for the record (e.g., a census record obtained under the SSA-1535-U3 procedure or a school record), return the document to the claimant/beneficiary in accordance with instructions in GN 00301.210.
B. Procedure - Photocopying Equipment Available
1. Document can be Photocopied
Prepare a photocopy (see GN 00301.360 for foreign-language documents).
Make every effort to ensure that the claimant's document is returned promptly.
Safeguard against loss or damage.
Use mailing tubes or other protective devices where necessary (see GN 00301.265 and AIMS MRM 02.01 SSA Mail Management Program).
2. Document Cannot Be Photocopied
If it is illegal to photocopy the document, or if the document is too bulky to be handled on the FO machine, or if it is too faint to reproduce:
Prepare an SSA-704-F3 or SSA-4385 unless a complete copy is required (e.g., it will be used in a prosecution - see GN 00301.030).
Include in the file a Form SSA-533, SSA-704-F3 or SSA-4385 as appropriate, along with a statement explaining that the claimant's document could not be photocopied and was returned to the claimant or other person having custody of it at his request.
See also the NOTE in GN 00301.090A.1.b. for when a true and exact copy is needed.
C. Procedure - No Photocopy Equipment Available
Tell the claimant that the document will be returned to him shortly, and take it back to the FO for photocopying. If the claimant will not relinquish the document long enough to take it back to the FO, prepare an SSA-704-F3 or SSA-4385 and return the document.
D. Procedure - Subsequent Request For Return of Document
Take the following actions:
Prepare a properly certified photocopy for the claims folder;
Put the NH's name and SSN on the photocopy;
Add the appropriate paragraph to the award, disallowance or other notice; and
Return the original document to the claimant as requested, using tubes or other protective devices where necessary (GN 00301.265).
E. Procedure - Temporary Return of Original Records to FO
Do not return originally submitted claims material to FO's with ordinary or routine development requests. However, in complicated situations, such as complex SE tax returns, where either the information may be needed to insure complete development, or it appears that pertinent claims material will serve a useful purpose, send a photocopy of the material to the FO with the development memorandum. Such situations will occur when the evidence in file and that requested is so complex that, without the memorandum, the FO would be unable to comply with the request or to understand the reasons for it.