TN 2 (11-88)
GN 02301.080 OIO Processing of Underpayments
A. Operating Policy
Any writing may be sufficient to claim an underpayment if it:
identifies the underpaid individual;
is signed by and gives the address of the person requesting payment; and
specifies the basis for the writer's request; i.e., his/her relationship to the deceased or to the deceased's estate.
However, not every writing need be considered a claim, because most persons writing from abroad have little or no knowledge of the law regarding distribution of underpayments or their status under the law. The following guides may be useful in distinguishing between an inquiry and a claim.
B. Operating Procedures
Generally, initial writings may be treated as inquiries when:
there is no underpayment; or
available information indicates the existence of someone of a higher priority than the writer; or
the writer does not appear to bear the necessary relationship to the deceased or to the deceased's estate; or
the writer lives in a barred country (RS 02650.001B.).
In these situations the initial writing may be handled informally as an inquiry since it is unlikely the writer can receive payment. Send a letter to the inquirer explaining that there is no underpayment, or, if there is, why he /she cannot receive it. The letter should not contain a reconsideration paragraph or a 6-month notification. However, handle a subsequent letter insisting upon payment as a claim.
In foreign cases, Form SSA-1724 (or a similar writing) constitutes a claim for the underpayment only if:
there is an underpayment;
the writer alleges he/she is the spouse, child, or parent of the deceased, or the legal representative of the estate; and
available information does not indicate the existence of anyone else in a higher priority category. When such a writing is treated as a claim, it will be necessary to confirm that the writer is in the highest priority category and to ascertain the existence of any others in that category.
In this regard, informants sometimes will include only those of equal category who reside in the same country. Therefore, if the SSA-1724 or some other writing shows only persons residing in the same country but the file indicates that there may be other members in the same category, proceed as follows:
Ask directly whether there are others residing outside the country in which the claimant resides.
If development shows that the claimant is not in the highest priority category (or if necessary documentation is not submitted), deny the request.
It is not necessary to establish the entitlement of the individuals in the highest category before denying the request.
Do not contact the potentially eligible person(s) in the higher category, even if such information is volunteered by the claimant.
Give a full explanation for the denial in the disallowance notice.
As in domestic claims, however, if the claimant is in the highest applicable category, payment may be made to all eligible persons in that category without contacting them if the claimant can furnish addresses for the other persons and proof of relationship is not necessary (unless the individual resides in a barred country). If it is necessary to contact other persons to obtain evidence of relationship, make only a reasonable effort to do so.
A reasonable effort is one letter to those persons informing them of the existence of the underpayment and the evidence required for entitlement.
Do not follow up if an individual fails to reply to the letter.
Make payment of the portions due to those individuals who have established entitlement if you receive no response within 60 days.
Take no other action except to post that portion of the unpaid underpayment to the MBR.