Although most Social Security Disability applicants and benefit recipients will have little or no direct contact with the Office of General Counsel, decisions made by the Office of General Counsel can have a huge impact on disability claims. The Social Security Administration’s Office of General Counsel is the organization responsible for advising and overseeing legal aspects of the SSA’s programs, including Social Security Disability. In addition to providing advice, the Office of General Counsel develops policies and procedures, ensuring that the SSA maintains compliance with current laws governing Social Security Disability.
The Office of General Counsel is headed by the General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel, who oversee three divisions, namely the Office of General Law, the Office of Privacy and Disclosure, and the Office of Program Law. An Associate General Counsel heads each division.
The Office of General Counsel is further divided regionally, with a Regional Chief Counsel over each of the Social Security Administration’s ten regions. Regional Chief Counsels oversee operations from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco. Regional Chief Counsels report to and are assisted by the Associate General Counsel responsible for the legal issue to which they are dealing.
Another important function of the Office of General Counsel involves maintaining and disseminating information. Freedom of Information requests, whether they are regarding Social Security Disability claims or other aspects of the SSA’s programs, are processed through the Office of General Counsel. The Office of General Counsel also maintains an IT division, which is responsible for maintaining data and data systems. Their responsibilities include ensuring that Social Security Disability claims information is not compromised or given to those who are not entitled to legal access to claim information.