Accurate documentation of a claimant’s work history is essential to determine disability coverage, primary insurance amount, and overall eligibility under the Social Security Act. An earning query has been one method employed by adjudicators to resolve inconsistencies in reported work histories. The field office should reference a Disability Insured Status Calculator Online (DISCO), to establish coverage under Title II of the Social Security Act. Adjudicators at the field office can also obtain a claimant’s Summary Earnings Query (SEQY), based on their total yearly earnings, or a Detailed Earnings Query (DEQY), which includes basic information on each employer who posted the earnings. Although disability adjudicators at the field office are not required to obtain these queries on initial application, analysts at the hearing level are required to secure at least a SEQY in all cases.
While Social Security Administration typically releases an annual personal earnings record, designated as PEBES (Personal Earnings and Benefits Estimate Statement), if an individual wants his/her earnings record more immediately, the field office must furnish the information to the wage earner under POMS Section GN 03311.005 F2a. Under POMS Section GN 03340.010 B2, there should be no charge for a SEQY, regardless of the purpose for which the information is requested. However, as a summary query, the SEQY may not provide much useful information on a claimant’s employment history.
For a DEQY, the Social Security Administration is authorized to charge fees to recover costs when providing information and related services for non-program purposes under Section 1106 of the Social Security Act and Privacy Act. Based on the most recent cost analysis, the new standard fee for a DEQY is $115 for each request received on or after October 1, 2016. The Administration will certify the earnings information for an additional $33, though certification is usually not necessary.