TN 13 (05-03)
GN 02403.004 Remittance Handling in the FO Mailroom and Reception Area
A. Policy - Management Responsibility
Unsecured mailrooms, unattended mailbags and the failure to initially stamp Government benefit checks represent a high vulnerability to fraud and theft. While not mandating how an individual FO must address these vulnerabilities, these instructions require that each office seeking a waiver to these policies must request a waiver from the CSI, per GN 02403.002A.
The intent of these instructions is to render remittances, other than cash, nonnegotiable, or control them at the point of receipt in the office. Where remittances are controlled rather than rendered nonnegotiable, the control may cease once the remittance has been rendered nonnegotiable; Non-responder (third alert) provisions and SSI checks for recipients approved to use the FO address have their own separate control procedures (see GN 00605.085 for non-responder cases and GN 02401.050 for FO address cases.)
Instructions for handling cash mailed or brought into the FO are found in GN 02403.009.
B. Policy - Mail Delivery/Opening
1. Mail Delivery
All FO mail from the post office must be delivered directly to an SSA employee (see the exception below).
Mailbags may not be left at the office door or at any other unattended drop-off area. Local management is responsible for coordinating with the local post offices to ensure that these requirements are carried out.
Where necessary, management will arrange to have the mail picked up at the post office by one (or more) SSA employees. The employee(s) picking up the mail should not have mail opening or distribution responsibilities. Once the mail has been received, it should not be left unattended.
If traveling to the local post office to pick up and drop off mail causes a significant burden to your FO, you may contact the Mail and the Postage Policy Team using the email address ^OPUM Mail and Postage Policy Team. The Mail and Postage Policy Team will attempt to establish a delivery arrangement with your local post office if the FO’s request for mail delivery and pickup is denied by the local Postmaster.
EXCEPTION: This exception only applies to those SSA offices that are co-located with other non-SSA tenants in leased buildings. If direct mail delivery to/pickup from the SSA office cannot be arranged with the post office for SSA offices in this situation, and there is a centralized delivery/pickup location for all tenants, the centralized location may be used. The SSA mail must be delivered to/picked up from a separate, secure box and only the SSA office designee and postman can have keys to the SSA mail container.
2. Mail Opening
All mail must be opened in the presence of two employees designated by management. This includes mail addressed to specific employees or mail annotated “Do Not Open In Mailroom.” If staffing size makes this difficult, recent audit findings suggest that the dual controls could be achieved by opening mail before the office open to the public or after the office is closed to the public. Inspect the mail for the existence of a remittance prior to delivery to the addressee. All remittances found in the mail must be handled according to procedures in GN 02403.004C.
NOTE: If an office cannot arrange to open the mail before or after the office is open to the public, and staffing size or other concerns make it impractical to adhere to the policy of two people present during mail opening, contact the CSI, and request a waiver, per GN 02403.002A.
C. Policy - Rendering Remittances NonNegotiable
Remittances may be found in FO mail, or may be presented to an employee serving at a reception desk or interview area. In either situation, local management is responsible for rendering the remittance nonnegotiable or controlling it to avoid the risk of loss or theft.
Any remittance found when mail is opened must be either rendered nonnegotiable or controlled. Provide mail-opening personnel with the necessary endorsement stamps. A factor to consider in rendering a remittance nonnegotiable immediately upon receipt is whether management would rather issue a replacement check if a returned Treasury check was in fact due the beneficiary. Mail opening personnel must either:
Stamp “Not Negotiable” any unendorsed returned Treasury check, and stamp “For Deposit Only, SSA” or “For Deposit Only, CMS” any refund received - personal checks, money orders, or endorsed returned benefit checks, OR
Control the remittance per GN 02403.004D. This may eliminate the need to reissue a benefit check that should not have been returned.
2. Reception Area
When an individual indicates at the reception desk that he/she will be making a remittance, the remittance will be either stamped to render it nonnegotiable, or logged so that it can be traced through the office to insure that it was received and properly entered into the remittance process.
After a remittance has been stamped, return it to the remitter to hold until the interview (unless the receptionist conducts the interview).
NOTE: Unendorsed Title II and Title XVI Treasury checks returned to the FO because of a change in entitlement are not remittances (see GN 02405.010 and GN 02405.100 for handling unendorsed returned Treasury checks).
D. Policy - Controlling Remittances
Logs must be established in the mailroom and reception area to control remittances. The purpose of the logs is to allow management to trace back any item to determine why a potential remittance was not processed by contacting either the interviewer or the remitter. The logs can be used as an indicator of potential fraud; e.g., where reviews of the logs indicate a pattern of remittances that are not entered into the FO remittance process, management should be alert to the possibility of theft.
NOTE: The logs must be in paper form, with entries made in ink only. Electronic logs (keying data onto a spreadsheet or other document on the computer) are not acceptable as the entries are susceptible to deletion or alteration by employees.
The logs must include the following information, all of which help in tracking missing remittances:
name of the remitter,
name of the beneficiary,
SSN of the beneficiary, and
type of remittance (returned Treasury check, endorsed Treasury check, personal check, or money order).
Date and time received (Remittances may come in after daily FORT is produced)
Name of interviewer
The logs will be used to control any remittance that has not been stamped “Not Negotiable” or “For Deposit Only, SSA” or “For Deposit Only, CMS” at the point it enters the FO and before it changes hands from the person who receives it to someone else. Retain the remittance log in the FO for 3 years. Additional information in the log might include the phone number of remitter, and reason for return.
Establish a log in the mailroom for all remittances. When the mailroom receives a remittance, the remittance must be controlled in the log until the point that non-mailroom personnel determine that the remittance should be stamped “Not Negotiable” or “For Deposit Only, SSA” or “For Deposit Only, CMS.”
2. Reception Area
Establish a reception area log to control all potential remittances not rendered nonnegotiable at the point they are introduced into the FO. While the mailroom log only includes actual remittances received in the mailroom, the reception area log includes all potential remittances of which the receptionist is made aware. For example, if a beneficiary states that he/she has gone back to work and wishes to return a check, the receptionist should enter the information on the log. The interviewer may determine that the beneficiary is due the check and not accept the remittance.
E. When to Use Remittance Logs
The remittance logs maintained in the mailroom and reception area are both intended to establish control over remittances that enter the FO and are not rendered nonnegotiable at the initial point of contact.
Periodically, a designated member of management should review each log and account for all remittances. Any items that are still in the office should be reviewed to ensure that they have been appropriately stamped.
When a logged item has not been entered into the Debt Management System, the designated member of management should ascertain why not. This should be accomplished by discussion with the interviewer. Management has the option to confirm this with the remitter. The Remittance Supervisor will review the logs daily, per GN 02403.006B.3.