TN 17 (06-94)
GN 02201.036 Objection to Collection of Debt
Under the TRO process, a debtor has the right to object to the collection of a debt on the basis that all or part of the debt is not past-due or not legally enforceable (see GN 02201.030B.) These types of protests require submission of evidence to rebut SSA's findings. However, there will be some situations in which an effective protest to collection will be based on only the debtor's current statement and information in the claims folder.
If an objection to collection is made, any evidence to support the objection must be received within 60 days from the date of the pre-offset notice. Examples of evidence that could rebut SSA's assumption that a debt is collectible include:
Copies of checks (front and back), money orders and/or receipts showing payments that reduced or eliminated the debt;
A waiver approval notice,
A report that the debtor is deceased; or
Bankruptcy documents showing that the debt has been discharged or a bankruptcy petition is pending.
NOTE: The above are not all inclusive. Any evidence submitted must be evaluated.
If evidence to support objection to collection of the debt is received after 60 days from the date of the preoffset notice, SSA will accept the evidence. However, the debt remains in the TRO program unless evaluation of the evidence proves the debt is not collectible. All ECO notices sent November 2015 or later will be stored in ORS. For all ECO notices sent prior to November 2015 you can view the ECO master query. For additional information on the ECO master query, see MSOM DMS 014.007.
1. FO Action
If an objection to collection is made:
Obtain a statement from the debtor that explains his/her reason(s) for objection to collection of the debt. DO NOT OBTAIN AN SSA-561-U2.
Accept any evidence the debtor submits.
Input “RECON FACT/AMOUNT” on the DRPR screen.
Forward material to the PC annotated “NECESSARY ACTION - TRO Case - Do not Backlog.”
2. PC Action
If an objection to collection is made:
Obtain the claims folder.
Review the evidence to determine if the debt is still past-due and legally enforceable as defined in GN 02201.030B. If so, and the case can be adjudicated without additional information, send a notice to the debtor explaining why the debt is collectible (in whole or in part).
Update the FACT/AMOUNT Appeal Disposition (DRAD) screen with the decision.
Obtain additional information if needed from the debtor prior to making a decision:
Contact the debtor by telephone, if possible.
Request the FO (via DOTEL) to make contact and obtain the needed information if telephone contact is not possible.
Notify the debtor of the final decision and update the DRAD screen.
IMPORTANT: Since a review to determine if a debt is past-due and legally enforceable is not an initial determination, do not include any appeal language in the decision notice.
The following are case examples of objection to collection of the debt via TRO.
1. Partial Payment Received After TRO Selection
We propose offset of a $900 debt. The debtor protests the amount of the debt and submits a copy of a receipt showing a $100 payment and an $800 debt balance. Follow SM 00610.296 to verify receipt of payment and update ROAR. Advise the debtor that TRO will be for $800.
2. Full Payment Received After TRO Selection
If, in the above example, the verified remittance is for the total $900 debt, correct ROAR. Advise debtor that we have corrected our records and since there is not a past-due debt, we will not ask IRS to withhold his tax refund.
3. Contingent Liability Case
A debtor alleges that he was never overpaid but SSA was withholding another person's overpayment from him/her when he/she was receiving benefits. ROAR and PHUS support the allegation. Delete the debt from the debtor's TRO/ROAR records and reestablish the debt to the overpaid person. Advise the debtor of his/her nonliability.
4. Debtor Confuses Agency Owed
The TRO notice proposes offset of a $500 debt established in 1988. The debtor protests and submits a copy of a cancelled check indicating a $500 payment in 1989. However, the check payee was IRS. Since SSA was not in the TRO program in 1989, there is no way the debtor could mistakenly send payment to IRS for an SSA debt. Notify the debtor accordingly and advise that SSA will proceed with TRO.