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:
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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