TN 13 (07-17)

GN 00206.025 Withdrawal (WD) Involving Railroad Board (RRB) Benefits and Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits

The Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) administers the Railroad Retirement Act benefits and the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) administers Federal veteran’s benefits. This section provides guidance for the interview, documentation, and processing of WDs related to RRB and VA benefits.

For policy and procedure on non-RRB certification cases, follow normal WD processing instructions found in GN 00206.011 or GN 00206.014 (as applicable).

A. Policy on advising claimants on VA or RRB benefits

When discussing Social Security Administration (SSA) programs with the claimant, do not:

  • Advise the claimant about VA or RRB benefits, or explain the provisions of any benefit program we do not administer.

  • Comment on or question a claimant's understanding about information received from the VA or RRB unless it involves incorrect, incomplete or misleading information about our program(s).

B. FO Procedure for accepting a WD request that involves VA or RRB benefits

1. Discussion with the claimant

When you receive the WD request:

  • Explain that the RRB or VA is responsible for administering that specific agency’s own program and he or she should contact the responsible agency for information.

  • Provide the claimant with the telephone number and address of the nearest RRB or VA office qualified to answer any program-specific question(s) unrelated to our programs. For the RRB inquiries, see RS 01601.100 (The Railroad Retirement Act). For VA inquiries, see SI 00830.302 (VA Pension Payments).

  • Emphasize that the claimant may lose VA or RR benefits unless he or she personally receives accurate, prompt information from the responsible agency (e.g. a person can expect authoritative answers concerning our benefits only from SSA).

  • Accept a claimant's reason(s) for withdrawing an SSA claim with RRB or VA involvement. However, before processing the WD, advise the claimant to discuss the potential effect of the Social Security WD with an authorized RRB or VA employee.

2. Documenting the file regarding the WD request

  • Document the conversation on the Report of Contact (RPOC) screen in the Modernized Claims System (MCS), or on an SSA-5002 form (Report of Contact).

  • Include information that the claimant did or did not consult with the proper agency before withdrawing his or her claim in addition to the information required on the written request per GN 00206.005A. The statement must explain that we provided him or her with an explanation of the possible loss of benefits that may occur without accurate information from all responsible agencies. Associate and annotate this documentation with the WD request.

C. Processing WDs involving VA benefits

For processing WDs with VA involvement, follow normal procedures in GN 00206.011 or GN 00206.014 (as applicable).

D. Processing WDs involving RRB certification claims

The RRB's determination applies only to the effect of withdrawing a Social Security claim on RRB annuities currently payable.

1. Field Office (FO) action

  1. Obtain the written WD request, per instructions in GN 00206.005.

  2. If the claimant received a RRB notice, which prompted the WD request, fax it into the appropriate servicing Processing Center (PC) paperless file for their action. See GN 01070.209 FO/PC paperless fax numbers.

  3. If the claimant does not have a RRB notice, use Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact) to contact the RRB at 844 Rush Street, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Request the RRB to complete Form RR-3 (RRB Report of Events Affecting SSA Claimants) and include:

    • the date of entitlement to RRB benefits, and

    • benefit amounts paid to the NH and any auxiliaries affected by the WD request;

    • instructions to send a copy of the response back to the FO. Once you receive the information, fax it into the appropriate servicing PC paperless file for their action. See GN 01070.209 FO/PC paperless fax numbers.

      NOTE: We do not need a Form RR-3 if the claimant has not filed an application for RRB benefits.

  4. Advise the claimant about the repayment requirements for the WD approval. If the claimant is unable to repay benefits directly to SSA and he or she will be receiving accrued RRB benefits, the claimant can request we offset the SSA repayment due against RRB benefits. Obtain a signed statement on an SSA-795 (Statement of Claimant or Other Person). Use the following language “In order to repay the benefits I owe as a result of withdrawal of my application for Social Security benefits, I am requesting the Social Security repayment in the amount of ($ FILL IN) be withheld from the accrued amount of benefits that I am due from the Railroad Retirement Board.” Accept only direct repayment in all cases where RUIA is involved.

  5. Accept and process requests for WD in cases involving RRB certification as indicated in GN 00206.011 or GN 00206.014, as applicable.

2. Processing Center (PC) action

The PC has jurisdiction for processing WD requests involving Title II claims in RRB certification cases. However, the information from the RRB is an important factor in determining if we will approve or deny the WD request. In RR certification cases, the RRB terminates payment to the beneficiary and offsets any payments due to the beneficiary in order to provide repayment of benefits to SSA.

a. WD request without an RR-3 form or RRB notice

  • Review the file to determine if the FO requested an RR-3. If you find the FO requested the form, set a diary for 30 days to follow up with the RRB expeditor. If the FO did not request the RRB information or if you do not receive a response after the 30 days, contact the RRB expeditor by phone or email to obtain the information needed. To contact RRB via email or phone, see RS 01602.520.

  • Provide the RRB expeditor with the claimant’s identifying data (e.g. name, SSN, RRB status, etc.), and let him or her know that the NH has a pending WD request.

  • Mail a notice to the claimant stating the following: “We have received your request to withdraw your Social Security claim. We have contacted the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) to determine what effect (if any) withdrawing your claim will have on your current payments from the RRB. We will notify you of the status of your withdrawal request after we hear from the RRB.”

b. WD request with RRB notice or RR-3 form received

If the information from the RRB shows that no change on RRB benefits will result from withdrawing the SSA claim (i.e., no reduction or increase in the total amount of benefits payable), approve the WD request.

If the information from the RRB shows that the new benefit reduces the current benefit:

  • send a notice to the claimant explaining the benefit reduction and give the option to cancel the WD request. Instruct the claimant to respond directly to the PC within 30 days from the date of the notice.

  • If you do not receive a response within 30 days, approve the WD request and send a notice to the claimant informing him or her that the RRB will notify him or her of any actions it takes on the payments resulting from the approval of the WD.

  • Request termination of payments following instructions in section c below.

c. RR payment termination

In RR certification cases, the RRB terminates payment to the beneficiary and offsets any payments made by SSA to the RRB on the beneficiary’s behalf against any RR annuity amounts paid. However, SSA must request termination of payments by following the steps below:

  • The Claims Specialist (CS) will prepare form SSA-559 (Transmittal Slip for Claims Folders) instructing the Benefits Authorizer (BA) or Benefits Technical Examiner (BTE) to terminate payment to the RRB on behalf of the claimant effective with the first month of entitlement of the withdrawn claim. Alert the BA or BTE that the withdrawn claim was a RR certification case.

  • The BA or BTE will notify the RRB via form SSA-3103 (SSA Certification of Title II Monthly Benefits to RRB for Payment or Adjustment) whether we must withhold an SSA repayment due from RRB benefits. Send a copy of the SSA-795 previously obtained consenting to offsetting benefits to the RRB with the SSA-3103. To contact RRB via email or phone, see RS 01602.520.

  • Once the termination of payment is completed, the RRB records will update through the Social Security Automated Data Transfer System as we extract and convey the specific data to the RRB.

E. WD involving RRB Annuity or RUIA Benefits

1. Field Office (FO) action

In cases involving Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) annuities or Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA) payments, follow procedures in GN 00206.005 for accepting the WD request.

2. Processing Center (PC) action

a. RRB Annuity or RUIA direct repayments

  • Follow GN 00206.014 and request repayment of benefits.

  • Upon receiving repayment, approve the WD, and annotate the copy of the SSA-521 that repayment has been made; and

    • For RUIA claims, fax a copy of the approved form SSA-521 (Request for Withdrawal of an Application) along with any other applicable statements (e.g., a request for adjustment), to the Director of Sickness and Unemployment Benefits for RUIA Claims. The fax number is (312) 751-7185.

    • For RRB claims, email the approved SSA-521 along with any other applicable documents to RSB-InquiriesFromSSA@rrb.gov.

  • Notify the claimant that we have approved the request for WD and that we have notified the RRB.

b. RRB annuity and adjustment of amount due

If an RR annuitant requests repayment of SSA benefits through an adjustment of the accrued amount of annuity due from the RRB, the PC will:

  • Obtain a request and consent statement on an SSA-795 Statement of Claimant or Other Person (if the FO did not previously secure one).

    EXAMPLE: “In order to repay benefits owed as a result of my WD of an application for SSA benefits, I request that the Social Security Administration repayment due in the amount of ($ FILL IN) be withheld from the accrued amount that will be due me from the Railroad Retirement Board.”

  • Email a copy of the request for WD and the applicant's request and consent statement to the Director of Retirement Claims, Railroad Retirement Board at RSB-InquiriesFromSSA@rrb.gov. The documentation must include:

    • Both RRB and SSA claim numbers;

    • The trust fund to be credited; and

    • A request that the RRB furnish SSA with a copy of the adjustment letter sent to the annuitant.

  • Upon receipt of the adjustment letter, notify the claimant that we have approved the request for WD.

  • Set a diary for verification of the transfer after we have notified the claimant of the approval of the WD request. The PC must diary these cases for 60 days. If no response, prepare a 30-day follow up and email it the RRB. If we do not receive a response after the 30 days, deny the WD request for no repayment and send a copy of the denial to the RRB at RSB-InquiriesFromSSA@rrb.gov.

NOTE: If the accrued amount of RR benefits is not enough to offset the Title II benefit repayment, request a direct refund of the balance before final approval of the WD.

F. References