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SSA Program Operations Manual System (POMS)


Image of reference books on shelf.The Program Operations Manual System (POMS) consists of the internal operating instructions used by Social Security Administration (SSA) field employees when processing claims for Social Security benefits. The POMS is a primary source of information used by Social Security employees. The public version of POMS available below is identical to the version used by Social Security employees except that it does not include internal data entry and sensitive content instructions.

NOTE: Click the following link to see the online SSA POMS:

Please note that this document is intended for SSA employees. It contains technical terms and instructions that probably will be unfamiliar to you. If you have difficulty understanding these materials, please click on this link to the Social Security Handbook that is written in plain language for use by the public.

Using the Online Public POMS

SSA's Program Operations Manual System (POMS) is the operational reference used by SSA staff to conduct SSA's daily business. This version is complete except for certain internal data entry material and certain sensitive instructions.

The POMS is broken down into several layers. From largest to smallest, they are, Part, Chapter, Subchapter, and Section. "Parts" are the top-level categories you will see if you click "Table of Contents." They cover a number of broad subject areas. To view the "chapters" in a given part, click the blue triangular buttons to the left of the topic title (users with non-graphical browsers will see a plus-sign (+) and users with screen-reading equipment will usually hear "plus.") The list will expand, outline fashion, and you will see the names of the chapters in that part. Expand any chapter to view the subchapters, and the sections within that subchapter will appear. Click on the title of any section to view that section document.

While viewing a section, you can return to the Table of Contents, perform a search, or page forward and back through the section documents.

The "Expand" and "Collapse" buttons will either fully-expand or fully-collapse the POMS Table of Contents. Be aware that POMS is rather large, more than 20,000 pages, and "Expand" will not be able to fit the entire TOC on one page. Use the "Next Page" and "Previous Page" buttons to move within the TOC.

To perform a search, click the Search button and enter a few specific words you're looking for. Submit the search, and your results will be returned in a list. Click any title in the list to view the document, or modify the search by adding words, and rerun it. If your search produced no results, consider removing one or more words or simplifying your request.

When you are viewing a document retrieved from a search results list, the "next" and "previous" page buttons in the document you view will move you to the next document in the results list, not the next document in the full POMS.

SSA Disclaimer:

The POMS states only internal SSA guidance. It is not intended to, does not, and may not be relied upon to create any rights enforceable at law by any party in a civil or criminal action. Further, by posting the POMS, SSA is not thereby limited from exercising its otherwise lawful prerogatives. If the content of the POMS conflicts with the Social Security Act, another relevant statute, SSA regulations, or Social Security Rulings, those authorities have priority over the POMS. Please see Help for information about how to contact SSA if you want to file a claim or have any questions.

See also:

SSA Handbook

SSA Red Book


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