There are 5 kinds of “laws” that apply to Social Security decisions. They are not all laws in the sense that they were passed by the legislature, but they are law in the sense that they govern what Social Security does in a Social Security Disability (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) case. You can find all of them online for free, simply click on the highlighted text below for links to find the different sources of law that cover SSDI and SSI cases.
When Congress passes a law, it becomes part of the U.S. Code. Title 42, Chapter 7 of the United States Code covers Social Security, including SSDI and SSI claims. When you think of the Code, think broad brush strokes. For the most part, you can read a Code section and it give you a general rule without much detail. Congress passes laws and then expects federal agencies to implement them, or put the law into effect.
The first way Social Security implements the Social Security Act is through Regulations that it passes. Federal agencies announce that they are going to adopt a regulation in the Federal Register. They then wait a period of time for the public to comment on the proposed regulation. They may change it in light of some of the comment or they may adopt it as they originally proposed it. In the case of Social Security, the nuts and bolts of the SSDI and SSI programs are found in their regulations. You can find them at Title 20, Parts 400-499 of the Code of Federal regulation.
Social Security uses another type of rule called a Social Security Ruling to help SSA employees and the public understand their regulations. SSRs explain Social Security’s policy on certain topics.
The POMS is a primary source of information used by Social Security employees to process claims for Social Security benefits. Think of the POMS as a manual to explain how to process disability (and other) claims.
HALLEX is the procedure manual for Social Security hearings and appeals beyond the hearing process.