Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A. Midwest Disability, P.A.

Foreign-Language Translations for Social Security

Supporting your disability claim with medical evidence of record is a crucial part of the evaluation process. Under CFR § 404.704, when evidence is needed for claim development, the claimant is responsible for obtaining and giving the evidence to Social Security Administration. At times, claimants may receive medical care abroad, where records are not written in English.[1] Other foreign-language documents may also be submitted from churches, temples, or other organizations within the United States. In such circumstances, the regulations also provide that Social Security Administration can obtain English translations for foreign-language records or documents (CFR § 404.704; see also POMS: GN 00301.330).

At the initial application level, POMS: DI 23045.001 outlines procedures for Disability Determination Services (DDS) to obtain translations. Generally, any foreign-language document used for a disability determination must have an English translation for the file, with the exception of Spanish language documents in cases processed by DDS in Puerto Rico (POMS: DI 23045.001B.2; see also POMS: DI 43515.001B). If your claim should reach the hearing level, Hallex I-2-5-76 provides that "hearing offices are responsible for the cost of obtaining translations." However, at the Appeals Council, the court records assistant must not delay your case because a translation has not been received (Hallex I-4-1-54). Your representative may also seek to provide translations through private sector translators, though a specific waiver of confidentiality may be required.


[1] Medical care provided abroad may give rise to further evidentiary questions, such as whether a disabled claimant can travel without difficulties, or whether the treating provider is an "approved medical source" under SSR 06-3p.

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