Uploaded SSA policy on Third Party access to BPQY'sBenefits Planning Query (BPQY) Policy Update:
Emergency Message, EM-23004, “New BPQY Third-Party Enhancements and Reminders” (Effective Date, 1/19/2023)
The BPQY is a document available through the Social Security Administration (SSA) that “contains comprehensive information about an individual’s disability benefits, work status (including work incentives), scheduled medical reviews, and health insurance. Beneficiaries and appropriate third-party requesters use BPQYs to plan for a successful return to work.” EM-23004, p.1. Many funders of benefits counseling services, including SSA, require the benefits counselor to obtain an updated BPQY before providing services to SSI and/or Social Security Disability beneficiaries.
Historical BPQY Access Problems
Access problems have included SSA’s failure to consistently send out a BPQY within a reasonable time after a request is submitted; and the fact that some local SSA offices sought to charge a fee to the party requesting the BPQY. NABWIS members have reported waiting three months or more for a requested BPQY, and reported that some local SSA offices have sought a fee for each BPQY requested. The Emergency Message, as summarized below, addresses both of these issues.
EM-23004 Will Allow Both Beneficiaries and Benefits Counselors to Obtain a Requested BPQY, Within 30 Days and at No Cost
An Emergency Message is a tool for SSA to announce new policies and/or procedures that have not yet found their way to more official policy documents, such as the Program Operations Manual System (POMS) or SSA regulations. An EM is typically expected to be a tool for SSA staff use, but can also be a valuable tool for benefits counselors and advocates. Recent EMs that may be of interest to benefits counselors include: EM-23000, Updates to Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) Processing Instructions; and EM-20018 REV 5, Medicare Part D Low Income Subsidy (LIS) - Effect of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Related Assistance. Go to the Emergency Messages Home Page for access to these and other EMs.
EM Retention Dates. EM documents will generally have a retention date, perhaps because they address a short-term issue or because they are expected to be spelled out in a future POMS. For example, EM-23004 on BPQYs has a retention date of July 25, 2023. This suggests that SSA staff need not retain the EM for reference after that date. However, we believe benefits counselors should retain access to EM-23004 until the same policies appear in an updated POMS. Use this link for access to EM-23004. This link will no longer work after the retention date. We recommend printing the link on paper or as a PDF that you save for future reference.
Readers should be aware the internal SSA website to produce a BPQY is just that, internal to SSA. Benefits counselors can use this EM-23004 to show SSA offices what the official policy is but they still need to go through the usual motions of making the request with Form SSA-3288.
BPQYs Will Be Provided to the Requesting Party Within 30 Days
EM-23004 at page 2 states: “Requests for BPQY reports should be filled within 30 days from the date of the request.” NABWIS members may need to reference EM-23004 with their BPQY requests until it is clear that local offices are meeting the 30-day requirements of this new policy.
SSA Must Provide the BPQY to the Requesting Party at No Charge, So Long as the Purpose of the Request is to Support Benefits Counseling Efforts
EM-23004 at page 3 states: “We do not charge a fee for any BPQY requests when the justification for the BPQY is to assist the disability beneficiary/recipient with planning a return-to-work effort or to maintain current employment.” The EM emphasizes that “[t]he
claimant or third-party must state the purpose for disclosing this information” (emphasis in original), referencing POMS GN 03305.003(D)(6).
We urge benefits counselors to follow the customary method for requesting a BPQY and, using the updated Form SSA-3288 (Consent for Release of Information) insert language like that quoted above to clarify that you seek the BPQY to support your benefits counseling efforts.
SSA Staff Will Have Better Tools in its Web-Based BPQY Application to Allow for Quicker Responses to Third Party BPQY Requests
This updated online system will allow individual SSA staff to store on the system information for third parties, like you or your agency, that regularly request BPQYs. This, we believe, will provide a simplified system for processing new requests from regular third-party requesters so that the 30-day turn-around time becomes a reality.
Let NABWIS Know if the New BPQY Process is Working for You.
We believe that NABWIS and NABWIS member letters to SSA and to representatives in Congress contributed to this very positive change in BPQY policy. It is now up to all of us to make sure the policy is followed. Share your positive and negative experiences with NABWIS by using the Contact Us feature on the NABWIS website or by emailing us at NABWIS@gmail.com. If there are problems with compliance with the new policy, NABWIS can make sure key people at SSA are aware of this.
Other BPQY Resources
SSA's Emergency Message regarding New BPQY Third-Party Enhancement's and Reminders
Helpful Tips from VCU