TN 13 (11-11)
GN 01010.420 Abandoned Claim Disallowances
A. Definition of abandoned claim
Occasionally you will encounter situations where an individual contacts a Field Office (FO) to inquire about possible auxiliary or survivor benefits but furnishes either no social security number (SSN) or an invalid SSN for the Number Holder (NH). You cannot request an earnings record without the NH's valid SSN resulting in inability to verify insured status as described in RS 00301.105. However, if the individual insists on filing, you must take a paper application to establish protective filing and follow instructions in RM 00207.001 and RM 00207.010 to assist the applicant locating the NH’s SSN.
Once the claimant files the application, allow reasonable time to provide the NH’s SSN and any other essential evidence as per GN 01010.410. Most of the applicants return to the FO and provide enough information to locate the NH’s SSN. However, there are situations where the applicant is unable to provide any additional information, does not return within the given time or just simply moves without notifying the FO. As a result, the claim becomes “abandoned”.
B. Policy on abandoned claim disallowances
Every application filed with the SSA must be formally adjudicated either to an award, a disallowance (or denial) or be abated. This also includes abandoned claims, since we consider them valid applications.
Prior to considering disallowing the claim, you must:
Explore all information sources such as neighbors, organizations and institutions that may know the claimant's present whereabouts or provide the necessary identifying information;
When contacting a third party to inquire about the claimant’s whereabouts, give as little information as possible about the applicant to protect their privacy;
Follow the procedure in GN 01010.410C to issue a closeout notice for the missing information or evidence;
If the post office returns the closeout notice and you cannot locate the applicant, document the paper claim file indicating that we issued proper closeout.
NOTE: In the Office of International Operations (OIO), the International Benefits Office (IBO) will follow the FO instructions for disposing of abandoned claims (see GN 01010.420C.)
C. Procedure for abandoned claim disallowance
If you exhaust all efforts to locate the NH’s SSN the applicant’s whereabouts remains unknown, take the following actions:
Disallow or deny the claim for lack of insured status of the NH;
Prepare the disallowance or denial notice using the Document Processing System (DPS) and mail it to the claimant. If the claimant's current address is unknown, send the notice to the claimant's last known address. Maintain a copy of the disallowance or denial notice in the claims file; and
Retain the file in the FO for two years (longer for OIO claims); destroy the abandoned claim in accordance with SSA Claims File Media Neutral schedule N-1-47-05-1.
NOTE: Abandoned claims are “paper” claims therefore you must manually process any related notices or denial letters. Assemble a “paper” folder to retain all documentation for future reference.