TN 41 (02-14)

GN 00502.113 Interviewing the Payee Applicant

A. Purpose of the payee applicant interview

The payee applicant interview is the first opportunity the field office (FO) has to assess the individual or organization’s suitability to serve as payee. Use the interview to determine the applicant's qualifications and reason for filing to be payee and to assess the applicant’s ability to carry out the payee’s responsibilities. For individual payee applicants, gather, document, and address information about the nature of any:

  • self-reported criminal convictions;

  • criminal history found using PayeeWiz;

  • fugitive felony history or periods of incarceration recorded on the Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) record;

  • beginning and ending dates of confinement; and

  • type of conviction (felony or misdemeanor), type of crime (e.g., robbery, forgery) and any pending civil or criminal charges.

You must also use the initial interview to explain to the payee applicant that, in completing the application, he or she:

  • agrees to receive benefits on behalf of the beneficiary and use or conserve them in the beneficiary's best interest;

  • understands the reporting responsibilities that you explained to him or her;

  • understands the payee’s duties and the liability of non-compliance of reporting;

  • is willing to carry out the responsibilities of a payee;

  • understands the liability for any overpayment for which the payee may be at fault; and

  • understands serving as a payee is voluntary and he or she may not charge a fee for providing payee services except as provided in POMS GN 00506.001.

NOTE: If the payee applicant has any form of creditor relationship, pay close attention to the creditor relationship during the interview so that you are able to make a sound selection determination. Refer to information on when the payee applicant is a creditor in GN 00502.135.

B. Policy for interviewing payee applicants

Interview each payee applicant, including parents with custody who are completing an application for Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income for a child, in a face-to-face setting unless:

  • doing so would cause undue hardship; or

  • the payee applicant previously had a face-to-face interview; and

  • is currently serving as a payee, and is qualified to do so.

If the applicant meets one of the above exceptions to a face-to-face interview, you must conduct a telephone interview.

Do not select an individual or organization that applies to serve as a payee on behalf of another individual or organization. You must conduct the payee application interview with the individual or organization that intends to serve as payee. For example: If a third party organization comes into the FO to apply on behalf of the State foster care agency, you must non-select the application, if the intended payee is the State foster care agency. For information on taking applications from foster care agencies, see GN 00502.159.

NOTE: Faxed, mailed, or dropped off Form SSA-11-BK’s (Request to be Selected as Payee) are items that require FO action. You must follow up with a face-to-face interview, unless they meet the requirements in GN 00502.113B.2.

1. What is undue hardship?

Decide undue hardship on a case-by-case basis. Common examples of undue hardship include:

  • an applicant lives too far from the FO and a field visit is not possible;

  • work prevents the applicant from visiting the FO during regular business hours; or

  • an applicant comes into the local FO, but due to workload in the FO that day, the applicant would have an unacceptably long wait for a face-to-face interview.

2. When is a subsequent face-to-face interview required?

You always have the discretion to require a subsequent face-to-face interview whenever you determine such an interview is necessary to protect the beneficiary’s interests (e.g., there is a question about the payee’s past performance or compliance with reporting requirements).

You must conduct a face-to-face interview if the:

  • payee applicant has a history of misuse or has been convicted of any crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4., or

  • the applicant is residing in the United States, but does not have a Social Security Number (SSN). For information on verifying the SSN, see GN 00502.117A.1.

NOTE: Any payee applicant, who previously satisfied the face-to-face interview requirement during a prior payee application, need not appear for another face-to-face interview if the applicant does not meet any of the limitations above.

3. When can I conduct a telephone interview?

Conduct a telephone interview for an individual payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required or an undue hardship exists, and if you can verify the applicant’s identity over the phone by confirming information on his or her NUMIDENT. Use the process on establishing identity outlined in GN 00203.020A.2. Enter “phone interview, ID verified via NUMI” in the Type of Applicant ID field on the Additional Relationship Information Screen (RLAD) in the Representative Payee System (RPS) application path. See MSOM RPS 002.011.

For an organizational payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required, conduct a telephone interview if you can verify the applicant’s identity over the phone:

  • Ask the employee of the organization for his or her name and job title. Document this information on the Representative Payee Special Text (RPST) screen in RPS.

  • Verify the name of the organization;

  • Verify the organization’s address; and

  • Verify the organization’s EIN.

4. When can I conduct Video Service Delivery (VSD)?

You may conduct an interview via VSD for an individual payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required or an undue hardship exists. Verify the applicant’s identity by confirming information on his or her NUMIDENT. Use the process on establishing identity outlined in GN 00203.020A.2. Enter “VSD interview, ID verified via NUMI” in the Type of Applicant ID field on the RLAD screen in the RPS application path. See MSOM RPS 002.011.

For an organizational payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required, conduct a VSD interview if you can verify the applicant’s identity:

  • Ask the employee of the organization for his or her name and job title. Document this information on the RPST screen in RPS.

  • Verify the name of the organization;

  • Verify the organization’s address; and

  • Verify the organization’s EIN (Employer Identification Number).

C. Procedure prior to interviewing individual payee applicants

Prior to interviewing an individual payee applicant, use PayeeWiz to query and review the applicant’s electronic SSA records from the Payee Snapshot tab or the PCOM Queries tab.

The Payee Snapshot tab summarizes data gathered from the following:

  • RPS,

  • NUMI,

  • SEQY,

  • MBR,

  • SSR,

  • PUPS, and

  • Fugitive Felon record.

The PCOM Queries tab gives detailed query information for

  • RPS,

  • NUMI,

  • SEQY,

  • MBR,

  • SSR,

  • PUPS, and

  • Fugitive Felon queries.

If the payee applicant has a representative payee do not appoint him or her as a representative payee for someone else. There are no exceptions to this situation.

Review the PUPS and Fugitive Felon record to determine if the applicant has a history of imprisonment or a fugitive felon history.

NOTE: Do not discuss PUPS, Fugitive Felon, or criminal information with the applicant until you are in the payee application.

D. Procedure for interviewing payee applicants

Before you begin your interview, and before you discuss the application, be sure to verify the identity of the person following instructions in GN 00502.117.

Verify the organizational payee applicant’s identity by following instructions in GN 00502.117, and process the application following established procedures in the RPS. For more information on processing applications in the RPS, see GN 00502.110. You do not need to follow subsections GN 00502.113D.1. through GN 00502.113D.3.; however, you do need to discuss with the applicant the instructions in subsections GN 00502.113D.4. and GN 00502.113D.5.

1. Payee applicant does not have a PUPS or Fugitive Felon record

If the applicant does not have a PUPS or Fugitive Felon record, ask him or her for permission to conduct a criminal background check when you are on the Applicant/Rep Payee Criminal Warrant Info (RPCW) screen in the representative payee application.

Do not conduct a criminal background check or ask for permission to conduct a background check for the following representative payee applicants:

  • Custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial grandparent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial parent of a disabled adult child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial court-appointed guardian of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve; or

  • A parent who was previously payee for his or her minor child and the child turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits.

    NOTE: If the payee applicant self discloses, or we find out through our systems (RPS, PUPS or fugitive felon), that the payee applicant was convicted of any of the twelve felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4, do not conduct a criminal background check on him or her.

If the payee applicant gives permission to conduct a criminal background check, take the following actions:

  1. Document “I give permission for Social Security to conduct a criminal background chck on me” on the remarks section of the SSA-11 in RPS;

  2. Use PayeeWiz, following the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3, to obtain criminal background information.

  3. After conducting the criminal background check through the PayeeWiz criminal report tab:

    • if the individual does not have a criminal history, document this information on the Applicant/Representative Payee Special Text Screen (RPST) screen in RPS.

    • if the individual does have a criminal history, follow the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3.

For more information on processing applications in the RPS, see GN 00502.110.

If a payee applicant refuses to give permission to conduct a criminal background check, we are unable to determine if we would bar him or her from serving as payee; therefore, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. Document “I do not give permission for Social Security to conduct a criminal background check on me” on the remarks section of the SSA-11-BK in RPS;

  2. Process the application,

  3. Non-select the payee applicant; and

  4. Document “applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check on the RPST screen in RPS.

If the applicant leaves before attesting to the application take the following actions in the order below:

  • Document the RPST screen with the circumstances of the interview and your findings regarding criminal history, and

  • Abate the application.

2. Payee applicant has a PUPS or fugitive felon record

If the applicant has a PUPS or fugitive felon record on the RPCW screen in the representative payee application:

  1. You must discuss and document the PUPS/Fugitive Felon information with the payee applicant; and

  2. Explain to the applicant that our records indicate he or she was incarcerated on (fill in the date), or that we have information showing he or she has an unsatisfied felony warrant.

This will allow the applicant to give you details about his or her incarceration or unsatisfied felony warrant.

Below is a list of sample questions that may help elicit additional information:

  • What crime were you convicted of?

  • Was anyone injured because of the offense?

  • What was your sentence?

  • Did you serve any jail time?

  • Were you released from prison early due to “good behavior?”

  • Were you placed on probation or parole?

  • Were you ordered to pay restitution to anyone because of the offense?

  • Have you been arrested since this conviction? If so, when was the arrest and what was it for?

  • Have you been arrested since this conviction? If so, when was the arrest and what was it for?

  • Has your current case been resolved? If not, are you awaiting a trial date?

You may need to tailor your questions depending on the circumstances of the case and the applicant’s answers. Every case is different and you must gather all the information necessary to make a sound determination regarding the applicant’s suitability.

Document the issue and the applicant’s responses to your questions on the RPST screen. It is important to document the information on the RPST screen for future use. See MSOM RPS 002.020.

If a payee applicant refuses to answer questions regarding his or her PUPS or fugitive felon history, we are unable to determine if we would bar him or her from serving as payee, therefore; take the following actions in the order below:

  1. Document the information on the RPST screen;

  2. Process the application; and

  3. Non-select the payee applicant.

If the applicant leaves before attesting to the application take the following actions in the order below:

  • Document the RPST screen with the circumstances of the interview and your findings regarding criminal history; and

  • Abate the application.

If a payee applicant denies ever being incarcerated, follow the instructions outlined in GN 02607.710D for applicants who receive T2 or T16 benefits and have a PUPS record

If an applicant is not receiving T2 or T16 benefits follow the instructions in GN 02607.890C for deletion of a PUPS skeleton record.

After discussing the PUPS or Fugitive Felon information with the payee applicant, ask the applicant for permission to conduct a criminal background check.

If the payee applicant gives permission to conduct a criminal background check, take the following actions:

  1. Document “I give permission for Social Security to conduct a criminal background check on me” on the remarks section of the SSA-11-BK in RPS;

  2. Use PayeeWiz to obtain criminal background information following the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3 in this section; and

  3. After conducting the criminal background check through the PayeeWiz criminal report tab:

    • If the individual does not have a criminal history, document this information on the RPST screen in RPS.

    • If the individual does have a criminal history, follow the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3.

If a payee applicant refuses to give permission to conduct a criminal background check, we are unable to determine if we would bar him or her from serving as payee; therefore, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. Document “I do not give permission for Social Security to conduct a criminal background check on me” on the remarks section of the SSA-11-BK in RPS;

  2. Process the application;

  3. Non-select the payee applicant; and

  4. Document “applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check” on the RPST screen in RPS.

If the applicant leaves before attesting to the application, take the following action:

  • Document the RPST screen with the circumstances of the interview and your findings regarding criminal history, and

  • Abate the application.

NOTE: You do not need to conduct a criminal background check on the following representative payee applicants:

  • Custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial parent of a disabled adult child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve; or

  • A parent who was previously payee for his or her minor child, who has since turned age 18, and continues to be eligible for benefits.

3. Conducting a criminal background check through PayeeWiz

Do not conduct a criminal background check on a payee applicant, if the applicant self discloses, or we find out through our systems (RPS, PUPS, or fugitive felon) that the payee applicant was convicted of:

  • one of the twelve felony crimes; or

  • attempt or conspiracy in connection with one of the twelve felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4.

Do not conduct a criminal background check on the following representative payee applicants:

  • Custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial parent of a disabled adult child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve; or

  • A parent who was previously payee for his or her minor child, who has since turned age 18, and continues to be eligible for benefits.

For all other payee applicants who give us permission to conduct a criminal background check, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. Conduct a criminal background check in PayeeWiz by selecting the Criminal Report tab;

  2. Discuss with the applicant any criminal history not previously discussed; and

  3. Document the applicant’s answers about his or her criminal history on the RPST screen in RPS.

The questions outlined in GN 00502.113D.2 in this section may help elicit additional information from the applicant.

If you need further documentation about the applicant’s criminal history, follow instructions in GN 00502.117B.3.

If the applicant has a criminal history based on the information obtained from the PayeeWiz Criminal Report, and you are unsure whether the crime is a barred crime, you must review the barred crimes state digest in GN 00502.301. This digest breaks down the barred crimes based on the state or territory where the crime was committed.

If PayeeWiz indicates an applicant was arrested for a crime but does not provide any conviction information, you must ask the payee applicant if he or she has been convicted of the crime:

  • If the applicant says “yes,” document the applicant’s answers about his or her conviction on the RPST screen.

  • If the applicant says “no,” follow procedures in GN 00502.117B.3.a to verify the status of the arrest and any conviction.

  • If you need additional time to analyze the criminal background information before you discuss the information with the applicant, continue with the payee application and inform the applicant that you will contact him or her later to discuss the results of the criminal information from PayeeWiz.

NOTE: If the applicant indicates the arrest information is erroneous, follow the procedures in GN 00502.117B.3.c.

4. Review payee’s responsibilities and duties

You must explain to the applicant the payee’s responsibilities and duties described in GN 00502.114.

When you take a payee application through the RPS, give the applicant the entire SSA-11, including the payee responsibilities and duties. Refer all applicants to our website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/ for more information on a payee’s duties and responsibilities. You may also provide individual payee applicants with a copy of the pamphlet, Pub. No. 05-10076 (A Guide for Representative Payees). If the applicant is an organization, refer them to the “Guide for Organizational Payees” at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/NewGuide/toc.htm.

5. Explain the use of benefits

a. Proper use of benefits

You must explain to the payee applicant that benefits are for the beneficiary's current needs for:

  • food,

  • clothing,

  • shelter,

  • medical needs,

  • personal comfort items, and

  • reasonably foreseeable needs.

The representative payee must conserve or invest funds on behalf of the beneficiary that he or she does not use for these purposes. If the applicant has questions about using benefits or conserving funds, he or she should contact the FO or call SSA through the national 800 number.

NOTE: Inform the applicant that SSA considers conserved funds a resource and may affect SSI eligibility in Title XVI cases.

b. Recordkeeping for money received

Explain to the payee applicant that a payee must:

  • keep a detailed record (e.g., receipts, checking and savings accounts, cancelled checks, bills) of the money received and how he or she spends the money; and

  • complete an accounting report annually, which we will mail to the payee.

Once the payee registers, he or she may complete the annual accounting report on our website at http://www.ssa.gov/payee/form/index.htm. The website at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/ has useful information to help a payee keep track of benefits and expenses.

6. Direct deposit and direct express

You must explain to the payee applicant that a payee must:

  • representative payee’s must receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income payments via direct deposit or direct express card. For exceptions to direct deposit see GN 02402.001. For more information on direct deposit for title II and title XVI, see GN 02402.002.

  • benefits deposited directly into a bank account must reflect the beneficiary’s ownership of the funds and the payee’s fiduciary relationship. For more information on direct deposit for representative payee cases, see GN 02402.055.

NOTE: The preferred account title for someone who is the payee is (Name of Beneficiary) by (Name of Payee), Representative Payee. For other examples, see the information on conserving benefits in a savings or checking account in GN 00603.010. For information on foreign savings accounts legends, see GN 00603.015.

E. Documenting a face-to-face, telephone, or VSD interview

1. Face-to-face interview

Use the RPST screen to document the following information (MSOM RPS 002.020):

  • the date of the interview;

  • your judgments about the payee applicant’s qualifications and suitability;

  • a statement that you explained the payee’s responsibilities; and

  • a statement that you explained the proper use of benefits.

2. Telephone interview or VSD interview

Use the RPST screen to document the following information (MSOM RPS 002.020):

  • circumstances of the undue hardship which permitted a telephone or VSD interview;

  • the date of the interview;

  • your judgments about the payee applicant’s qualifications and suitability;

  • a statement that you explained the payee’s responsibilities; and

  • a statement that you explained the proper use of benefits.

NOTE: If no RPS record has been established (e.g., a case where the applicant is an undocumented alien parent payee without an SSN), document a Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact). Maintain the SSA-5002 either in the beneficiary’s electronic folder or paper claim file.

F. References


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502113
GN 00502.113 - Interviewing the Payee Applicant - 04/17/2014
Batch run: 04/17/2014
Rev:04/17/2014