TN 19 (10-17)

GN 02403.005 Examining Remittances Received in the Field Office

A. List of acceptable remittances

Acceptable remittances include:

  • Cash;

    NOTE: We accept cash to pay programmatic overpayments, conserved funds, gifts to the Social Security Trust Funds, Medicare premiums and misapplied funds, but we will not accept cash to pay non-program standard fees for Social Security Administration (SSA) services. For more information on standard fees, see GN 02403.012.

  • personal checks (including checks post-dated up to three days, and third- party checks if properly endorsed over to SSA);

    NOTE: If the remitter insists on submitting a check post-dated more than three days, provide the remitter an envelope for him or her to mail the remittance to the Mid-Atlantic Program Service Center (MATPSC) when the person wants the check presented.

  • starter checks that include the remitter’s name, address, and date of the check;

    NOTE: If the starter check does not contain this information, please have the remitter handwrite it on the check.

  • money orders (for information regarding bankrupt money order companies see GN 02403.156);

  • bank draft or cashier's check;

  • endorsed returned benefit or attorney fee checks;

    NOTE: Unendorsed returned benefit or attorney fee checks are not remittances. For information on processing unendorsed returned benefit checks, see GN 02405.000.

  • warrants;

  • foreign currency (for information on foreign currency, see GN 02403.005D in this section);

  • U.S. savings bonds as conserved funds;

  • credit card payments to SSA;

  • checks made payable to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), intermediaries, or carriers; and

    NOTE: SSA does not accept U.S. savings bonds, foreign currency, or debit/credit card payments for CMS, intermediaries, or carriers.

  • Interim Assistance Reimbursement Program (IARP) checks returned from state agencies because the recipient is deceased. Accept the check whether or not the state agency adds SSA above the recipient's name.

B. List of unacceptable remittances

Unacceptable remittances include:

  • property;

  • titles to property;

  • stocks and bonds;

  • U.S. savings bonds for other than conserved funds;

  • lottery tickets;

  • check or money order payments combining refunds to SSA with Medicare monies to CMS or standard fee payments to Office of Finance;

  • any non-negotiable instrument;

  • checks post-dated more than three days (provide an envelope for the remitter to mail in the check to the MATPSC at a later date if the remitter refuses to present an acceptable check);

  • non-Government checks back-dated more than 90 days;

  • Government checks voided under limited payability (for information on limited payability, see GN 02405.300); and

  • any check or money order payable to some other payee (department store). Return these items to the sender. If there is no return address and you cannot otherwise determine his or her address, photocopy the check and destroy it. Keep the photocopies for six months.

C. Procedure for examining remittances (interviewer)

Examine remittances to determine if they are acceptable.

  • For information on processing foreign currency, see GN 02403.005D in this section.

  • For information on processing remittances through the Social Security Electronic Remittance System (SERS), see GN 02403.161.

IMPORTANT: SERS is an automated payment solution that uses card readers and check scanners to electronically process remittances paid by check, money order or debit/credit card. In 2014, SSA implemented the SERS application in the field offices (FOs) to collect non-program standard fees for requests for information. In 2017, SSA implemented SERS for certain programmatic debts.

SERS will only accept debit/credit cards, money orders, and checks for remittances related to the payment/return of the following:

  • Benefit Overpayments;

  • Conserved Funds; and

  • Misused Funds.

SERS eliminates FO’s need to send all programmatic remittances from the FOs to the MATPSC. Remittances will process the same day and produce a payment authorization form and receipt for the debtor. FOs continue to process and send all other acceptable programmatic remittances to the MATPSC and non-program administrative remittances to the Office of Finance (as applicable).

1. Remittance is unacceptable

  • Return to the remitter, unacceptable remittances that are mutilated or unreadable since they cannot be negotiated.

  • Do not accept any check or money order made payable to another Government agency (Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Education), an SSA employee, or to a private entity (utility companies, banks, department stores) with the exception of Medicare refunds made payable to intermediaries or carriers.

    EXCEPTION: Accept third-party checks (checks made payable to a remitter who is endorsing the check to SSA or CMS) if they are properly endorsed and made payable to SSA or CMS. For information on how to properly endorse a remittance, see GN 02403.005C.3.f. in this section.

  • If the remittance is unacceptable, return it to the remitter and request a replacement.

EXCEPTION: Stamp “NOT NEGOTIABLE” on any returned Title II or Title XVI check that is more than one year old. For information on limited payability procedure, see GN 02405.300.

2. Remittance received with correspondence

If the FO receive a remittance accompanied by correspondence other than a payment coupon and there is a discrepancy between the Social Security Number (SSN) shown on the correspondence and the coupon, and there is no information to show which is the correct billing SSN, then query both SSNs provided to verify the correct SSN. Do not enclose miscellaneous correspondence with remittances sent to MATPSC.

3. Remittance is a personal check, money order, bank draft, cashier's check, or warrant

Avoid mutilation; do not staple, crease, or tear the remittance. FOs must refuse and return remittances deemed non-negotiable because they are mutilated or unreadable.

a. Remittance date line

Examine the date line. If the remitter is present and the date is in the future, ask the remitter to enter the correct date. If the remitter refuses to change the date, accept the check with a date up to three days in the future. Non-government checks backdated more than 90 days are unacceptable.

EXCEPTION: Non-government certified bank checks backdated more than six months are acceptable, but examine the checks for negotiability time limits.

b. Remittance payee line

Take the following actions:

  • Accept any entry in the payee line that you can construe as SSA or CMS when applicable, e.g., Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS, HHS), U.S. Government, or U.S. Treasury.

  • Enter “Social Security Administration” or, when applicable, “Centers for Medicare or Medicaid Services” if the remitter did not complete the payee line. If the remitter is writing the check in the FO, advise him or her to use SSA or CMS, as appropriate.

c. Written and numeric amounts on remittance

Take the following actions:

  • Examine the written and number amounts on the remittance. If the amounts are not the same and the remitter is present, request the remitter to either correct the erroneous entry (written or numeric) and initial the correction, or request a replacement check.

  • If he or she is not present or refuses to submit a corrected check, input the written amount into the Debt Management System (DMS) as the correct amount. Print above the numeric amount on the check: “Accepted as $_____ (insert written amount).”

NOTE: Treasury honors the written amount when there is a discrepancy. Also, DMS will produce a FO coupon that will display the dollar amount input in the scan line.

d. Remittance signature line

Examine the signature line. If the check or money order is unsigned and the remitter is present, have him or her sign or endorse the remittance; otherwise, forward the check without a signature.

NOTE: The Federal Reserve sometimes processes unsigned personal checks, money orders, bank drafts, cashier’s checks, or warrants. If they do not and return it, request a signature or replacement check from the remitter.

e. Remittance bears restrictive language

Follow these instructions if you receive a remittance that bears restrictive language:

  • If the remittance bears restrictive language; i.e., “payment in full,” “endorsement of this check constitutes full repayment on SSN-XXX-00-XXXX,” query the system to determine if the payment is actually payment in full. If so, accept the payment, write on the front of the check or money order (above the restrictive language): “Endorsement Accepted, SSA” and process as a normal remittance.

  • If remittance is not payment in full, ask the remitter to remove the restriction either by submitting a new check or money order without a restriction or by lining through the restriction and initialing the change. If he or she refuses, do not accept the remittance.

    NOTE: If the less-than-full-amount represents a compromise offer, evaluate the dollar amount and follow the compromise guidelines. For more information on the compromise guidelines, see GN 02210.215 and GN 02215.105.

  • If the restriction is too broad, e.g., “Negotiation of this check by SSA releases the remitter from any and all liability for any overpayment made by SSA,” and the person will not remove it, do not accept the check or money order regardless if it is payment in full.

  • If the query facility is not available or the system is down, ask the remitter to remove the restriction. If he or she refuses, do not accept the remittance.

f. Check endorsement

To endorse the check, stamp “For Deposit Only, SSA” or, when applicable, “For Deposit Only, CMS” on the back of the check within the space 1 ½ inches from the trailing edge (which is defined as the left side of the check when viewing it from the front).

g. Record receipt number on remittance

Accurately record the receipt number on the remittance. Do not place the receipt number or any other information in the lower right hand corner of the check because MATPSC uses this space to insert magnetically encoded data. If the debtor presents the Recovery and Collection of Overpayment Process (RECOOP); Recovery of Overpayments, Accounting, and Reporting (ROAR); or Treasury Offset Program (TOP) coupon, destroy it, and paper clip the DMS-generated coupon to the remittance. MATPSC will use the DMS-generated coupon to process the transaction via a check scanner. Enter the RECOOP bill number in the bill number field of the RFOR screen.

NOTE: Do not enter the SSN on the check unless it is a Medicare premium payment you are sending to the following address:

CMS Medicare Premium Collection Center

P.O. Box 790355

St. Louis, MO 63197-0355

For more information on processing Medicare premium remittances, see GN 02403.030. CMS needs the SSN to credit the premium payment to the proper account. Minimizing use of the SSN on SSA remittances lessens the risk of identity theft, if the check is intercepted in the mail. Do not obliterate the SSN if it is entered by the remitter; this may damage the check or make necessary areas unreadable.

4. Remittance is an endorsed returned benefit check

If the remittance is an endorsed returned benefit check, ensure that the beneficiary or recipient endorsed the check. Avoid mutilation and do not write over any data printed on the check. For more information on processing the endorsed returned benefit check, see GN 02403.006C.

5. Remittance is unidentified cash, an unidentified check, or a money order (no name, address, or SSN)

If the remittance is unidentified cash, an unidentified check, or a money order (no name, address, or SSN), treat it as an anonymous gift, taking the following steps. (For information on processing Money Gifts Received in the FO, see GN 02403.011.)

  • Inspect the incoming envelope. The remittance and envelope should have sufficient information to identify the SSN of the remitter. Enter available information into DMS. Forward the remittance with its related FO Remittance Transmittal (FORT) to the MATPSC. The remittance will accompany the same FORT with other remittances received that day. MATPSC will place the item on the suspense file for resolution.

  • Keep the receipt for 60 days, by which time the remitter should have received another RECOOP bill that does not reflect the earlier unidentified remittance. If the remitter comes forward, give or send him or her the receipt. If the remitter does not come forward, destroy the receipt.

6. Remittance is in the form of a debit/credit card payment

Process debit/credit card payments using the instructions in GN 02403.006D.

7. Remittance is in the form of U.S. savings bonds as conserved funds

Process the U.S. saving bond received as conserved funds using the instructions in GN 02403.015.

D. Procedure for handling foreign currency

When handling foreign currency, take the appropriate action necessary based upon these circumstances:

1. Foreign checks in U.S. dollars

  1. a. 

    Enter the payment into DMS and select “J” (checks written in U.S. dollars drawn on a foreign bank) as “Type of Remittance.”

    For more information on FO remittance input, see MS DMS 003.006.

  2. b. 

    b. Process as a regular remittance any checks payable through a bank in the U.S. and that contain the U.S. bank’s American Bankers Association (ABA) Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR) line at the left side and at the foot of the check.

2. Foreign checks in foreign amounts

  1. a. 

    When entering the payment into DMS, select “I” (Foreign Currency) as “Type of Remittance.” For more information on Field Office Remittance Input, see MS DMS 003.006.

  2. b. 

    Process checks drawn on foreign banks in foreign amounts as regular remittances, but enter the foreign amounts into DMS, i.e., not converted to U.S. dollars.

  3. c. 

    Write the type of foreign currency received (Mexican pesos, Canadian dollars) next to the remittance amount on the receipt you give to the remitter and place your initials next to the entry.

  4. d. 

    Advise the remitter that we will only apply the dollar amount we received when the Program Service Center (PSC) deposits the remittance toward the overpayment.

3. Foreign cash

If the remitter offers foreign cash:

  1. a. 

    direct the remitter to convert the foreign cash to U.S. dollars. However, if the remitter insists on submitting foreign cash, the interviewer must accept the foreign cash.

  2. b. 

    select “I” for “FOREIGN CURRENCY” as “Type of Remittance” when entering the payment into DMS, and write the type of foreign currency received (Mexican pesos, Canadian dollars) next to the remittance amount on the receipt and annotate the FO employee initials next to the entry before issuing it to the remitter. For information on Field Office Remittance Input, see MS DMS 003.006.

  3. c. 

    explain to the remitter that the exchange rate for converting foreign cash to U.S. dollars will be at the rate in effect at the time the FO makes the conversion and purchases a money order for the converted amount.

To Link to this section - Use this URL:
GN 02403.005 - Examining Remittances Received in the Field Office - 10/25/2013
Batch run: 01/19/2024