TN 19 (10-17)
GN 02403.006 Processing Remittances Received in the Field Office
A. Introduction to processing remittances received in the field office
1. Processing remittances
Remittances received in the field offices (FOs) include checks or money orders, and debit/credit cards (Instructions for cash remittances are in GN 02403.009).
Occasionally, Special Agents of the Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General (OIG) may present remittances. These checks represent court-ordered restitutions or are part of an agreement reached in a fraud case. FOs must provide a receipt to the presenter, by entering the appropriate claim number following the guidelines in GN 02403.006B in this section and GN 02403.007.
If a claimant representative or attorney returns excess standard fees they received, provide a receipt to the presenter, entering the appropriate claim or housed-under number and Beneficiary Identification Code (BIC), by following the guidelines in GN 02403.006B in this section and GN 02403.007.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses Administrative Wage Garnishment (AWG) as a tool to recover delinquent program debt. Employers receive notification that they must garnish the wages of an SSA debtor who is their employee. FOs may encounter an employer who wishes to make the payment in person and by check, money order or debit/credit card. Enter the transaction into the Debt Management System (DMS) using the remitter's name, and the correct claim account number, BIC, or housed-under number of the debtor or employee. For details about AWG, see GN 02201.040 through GN 02201.042 and SI 02220.018.
NOTE: If a resident station mails a remittance to the parent FO, the person designated by management will enter the remittance and the SSA-1395-BK (Manual Receipt) receipt number into DMS. You must associate the automated receipt and the DMS-generated FO payment coupon with the remittance and manual receipt before presenting to the remittance clerk.
2. Processing remittances in the Social Security Electronic Remittance System (SERS)
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 FOs to collect non-program standard fees 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:
Conserved Funds; and
SERS eliminates FO’s need to send all programmatic remittances from the FOs to the Mid Atlantic Program Service Center (MATPSC). Remittances will process the same day and produce a payment authorization form and receipt for the debtor. FOs will continue to process and send all other acceptable programmatic remittances to the MATPSC and administrative remittances to the Office of Finance (as applicable).
B. Procedure for personal checks, bank checks, or money orders
1. Interviewer actions
When the interviewer receives personal checks, bank checks, or money orders, they must:
Determine if the payment is acceptable per GN 02403.005. If it is acceptable, stamp “For Deposit Only, SSA,” or “For Deposit Only, CMS,” as applicable, and go to GN 02403.006B.1.b. in this section.
If the payment is not acceptable, return the unacceptable remittance to the remitter and request a replacement. Stop.
The mailroom or reception area personnel may have already stamped the remittance per GN 02403.004. For details on endorsement standards, see GN 02403.005C.
Enter remittance into the automated system. Use RFOR Screen.
Be sure to include the correct BIC for Title II remittances; make sure the SSN is a valid number and keyed correctly; ensure that the Trust Fund is correct (“R” for RSI, “D” for Disability, and “S” for SSI). Never use “S” for an RSI or DI remittance.
For claimant representative or attorney fee refunds:
If we paid fees prior to November 22, 2008, the Title II remittance Reason Code is “O” and the BIC is SA-SZ (match the authorized rep payment on the Special Payment System); there is no BIC for Title XVI returned standard fees.
If we paid fees after November 22, 2008, the Title II remittance Reason Code should be “O” and the BIC is SA-SZ (match the authorized rep payment on the Special Payment System). The Title XVI Reason Code should be “X” and enter a Payment Identification Code (PIC) (RA-RZ) in the BIC field on the RFOR screen. You can find the PIC on the SSR query in Payment History in the PI column for the authorized rep payment, as indicated by an “A” in Pay Flag 5. (See MS DMS 001.001 and MS DMS 003.001).
When the FO receives conserved funds for a concurrently entitled person, use the Title XVI trust fund code.
For State Disbursement Unit (SDU) remittances:
Most states receive garnishment payments via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If they receive an incorrect garnishment amount from us, we instruct the SDUs to send these remittances to the MATPSC; however, some SDUs send garnishment remittances directly to the FO.
When the FO receives a remittance from an EFT state, the FO should ensure that they credit the correct garnishment PIC. The FO should NOT credit the remittance to the garnished beneficiary.
EXAMPLE: If the FO receives a remittance for X1, the FO should input the remittance for PIC X1. This produces a remittance exception in the PC. A technician in the PC familiar with garnishment payments will process the exception. For more information on garnishment and the X BIC, see GN 02410.225 and SM 00610.772B.5.
Ask the remitter to verify the information on the receipt, including the SSN and amount. Give the receipt to remitter and immediately give the remittance and payment coupon to the remittance clerk for safekeeping. Make sure that you show the receipt number on all remittances.
EXCEPTION: Include the Medicare number on check or money orders for Medicare monthly or quarterly premium payments. Include the SSN on checks or money orders for Medicare retroactive premium payments; the contract bank cannot process the payment without the SSN.
NOTE: If remittance is a Medicare premium payment received without a bill, check the Enrollment Database (EDB) in the system. If the system has not generated a Supplemental Medical Insurance (SMI) award, prepare a note to MATPSC that there is no record in the system.
For information on how to obtain an automated receipt, see MS DMS 003.006.
2. Remittance clerk actions
The remittance clerk receives remittances from the interviewer and must perform the following actions:
As late in the business day as practical, obtain FO Remittance Transmittal (FORT) and Credit Card FO Remittance Transmittal (CCFORT) and associate remittances to it.
For instructions on how to obtain FORT(s) and CCFORT(s), see MS DMS 004.007.
If the remittance covers multiple accounts, enter the check or money order number(s) under the appropriate receipt number on the FORT.
Complete the first SIGNATURE, TITLE, NAME lines on the FORT and CCFORT. If not generated by the system, also complete the PHONE lines.
At the end of the day, hand carry FORT and CCFORT with related FO-generated payment coupons and payments to the remittance supervisor.
3. Remittance supervisor actions
The remittance supervisor receives all remittance related materials from the remittance clerk and must perform the following actions:
Review each line item on the FORT and CCFORT and FO Daily Receipt Listing (FODRL) to ensure that they and the remittances are in complete agreement. For details concerning mailroom and reception area logs, see GN 02403.004.
Record the details of any discrepancies and resolve them with the remittance clerk or interviewer.
Complete the second SIGNATURE, TITLE, NAME, and, if not generated by the system, PHONE lines on the FORT and CCFORT.
Place the FORT, CCFORT, FO-generated payment coupons, and remittances received that day in an envelope. Separate credit card payment coupons, and attach them to the CCFORT. Seal the envelope and mail to MATPSC the same day to the address shown on the FORT. If you cannot mail the day’s FORT and remittances the same day that the system produces the FORT, secure each and mail the next business day.
NOTE: Maintain the FODRL in the FO for one year. For details concerning the FODRL, see GN 02403.021.
IMPORTANT: Include no other material or correspondence in the envelope with the remittances.
C. Procedure for endorsed returned benefit checks
Process endorsed returned benefit checks received as refunds as follows:
If the returned check is payable...
To the liable individual,
Accept the check and process as in GN 02403.006B in this section.
On another earnings record to someone other than the liable individual,
Enter the liable person's SSN on the endorsed check and obtain a signed statement from the check payee that says:
“As a matter of convenience in refunding the overpayment on SSN, I am tendering a benefit check in the amount of (enter the amount) payable to (name of beneficiary) on SSN” and process as in GN 02403.006B in this section.
If the payee refuses to sign the statement, do not accept the check as a refund.
To the liable individual as the representative payee for a beneficiary on another earnings record who is not liable for repayment,
Obtain a signed statement from the check payee as noted immediately above. Add the following paragraph:
“This method of refund will not deprive (name of beneficiary) of at least an equivalent amount of his or her support.”
Process the refund as in GN 02403.006B in this section.
Mark “NOT NEGOTIABLE” on any returned Title II or Title XVI check that is more than one year old and follow the procedures in GN 02405.300.
Unendorsed returned benefit checks are not remittances. You must process such Title II checks, including unendorsed attorney fee checks, according to GN 02405.010; and process such Title XVI checks, including claimant representative or attorney fee checks, according to GN 02405.100.
D. Process for credit cards
Title II and Title XVI debtors have the option of using their MasterCard, Discover, Visa, American Express, and Diners Club (brand) credit cards as a method of repaying an overpayment. SSA cannot accept credit card payments to pay Medicare premiums or CMS lockbox payments.
SSA informs overpaid Title II and Title XVI beneficiaries or recipients of their overpayment by a variety of overpayment notices, which provide the credit card payment option:
Initial overpayment notices, which contain a payment coupon with the credit card payment option;
Treasury Offset Program (TOP) pre-offset notices and mandatory cross-program recovery notices, each bearing a payment coupon with the credit card payment option, and
Monthly bill (if applicable), which contains a payment coupon bearing the credit card payment option.
In addition, employers to whom we send notification under the AWG program receive in their package of materials a payment coupon, which offers the credit card payment option. If the employer opts to pay in person in the FO by credit card, he or she must enter the credit card number of the card they are using and sign the coupon (or SSA-4588-OP (You Can Make Your Payment by Credit Card) if they do not have the coupon with them). Follow the procedures in GN 02403.006E in this section.
NOTE: We accept the Diners Club Card only if it processes as a MasterCard or Discover transaction. Acceptable Diners Club Cards should have the MasterCard or Discover Card logo present on the card and meet the numerical requirements (See chart in GN 02210.205B.1).
While we designed the credit card process for debtor or Program Service Center (PSC) handling, debtors may bring the Form SSA-4588-OP into the FO. When FOs enter the credit card payment amount into DMS, the system will produce a receipt along with a payment coupon. The debtor should complete the credit authorization information on the coupon; the FO will forward it to the MATPSC. You may return the SSA-4588-OP to the remitter or destroy it if the remitter does not want it.
FOs may also provide the toll-free phone number of the PSC of jurisdiction so the Debtor Contact Unit (DCU) can complete the transaction by phone. For a list of PSC phone numbers and SSN jurisdiction, see GN 02403.006G in this section. FOs will not process the credit card transactions because only MATPSC has the software to accept and transmit this information to the vendor bank.
E. Procedure for credit cards
1. Remitter in the FO requests to make a single (one-time) credit card payment
If any Title II or Title XVI remitter wishes to make a payment on their overpayment by using MasterCard, Discover, Visa, American Express, or Diners Club brand card, proceed as follows:
Input the remittance into DMS using the RFOR screen and coding the remittance type as “P” (credit card), see MS DMS 003.001.
Give the automated receipt to the remitter.
Help the debtor complete the credit card information on the FO payment coupon.
Obtain a signature from the debtor on the DMS payment coupon, and give the signed and completed payment coupon to the remittance clerk immediately to forward to the MATPSC.
Mail the credit card payment coupons, with the CCFORT, in the same envelope as other remittances the FO forwards to the MATSPC address. To help MATPSC processing, separate the credit card payments from the check payment workload and clip the credit card payments together as a separate batch of work.
For information on processing credit card fee payments, see GN 02403.012.
NOTE: If the debtor would rather phone in the transaction, provide the toll free phone number of the PSC of jurisdiction. For a list of PSC phone numbers and SSN jurisdiction, see GN 02403.006G in this section.
IMPORTANT: If the remitter is in current pay, submits a credit card authorization for the full amount of the overpayment, and the COM is five days or less away, input a stop-withholding event to DMS. This is not necessary for credit card payments authorized by telephone. For information on the stop recovery screen, see MS DMS 006.003.
2. Remitter requests to make recurring monthly credit card payments
Debtors have the option to have SSA charge their credit card on a recurring monthly basis. They may specify the duration and amount of the charges. If a debtor requests this option, provide the toll free number of the PSC of jurisdiction. The PSC will mail the SSA-4588-OP to the debtor, since the MATPSC must keep a signed copy of the SSA-4588-OP on file as proof of the debtor’s authorization. For a list of PSC phone numbers and SSN jurisdiction, see GN 02403.006G in this section.
3. Remitter requests to make a credit card payment by telephone
If you receive a request to make a credit card payment by telephone in the FO:
Give the remitter the toll-free number for the PSC of jurisdiction. For a list of PSC phone numbers and SSN jurisdiction, see GN 02403.006G in this section.
Tell the debtor that the PSC will take the credit card information over the phone or mail them the SSA-4588-OP if they want to establish recurring monthly payments.
4. Remitter reports a problem with a credit card payment
If a remitter contacts the FO concerning a problem with a credit card payment (the payment they authorized is not reflected on their credit card statement, the statement shows a transaction that they do not remember authorizing), give the debtor the toll free number of the PSC of jurisdiction. The DCU will help the caller with the problem.
F. Procedure for credit card security
Apply the following procedures for credit card security:
Do not list the remitter's credit card number anywhere in the remarks area of the DMS screens when preparing the automated receipt.
Do not photocopy the completed SSA-4588-OP for office use or as a receipt. However, you may give the SSA-4588-OP to the debtor because the FO will send the DMS-generated payment coupon to MATPSC.
Do not keep a copy of the SSA-4588-OP in the FO or mail it to MATPSC. If the DCU completed the transaction by telephone, the SSA-4588-OP remains with the remitter.
G. DCU phone numbers and operating hours
Use the following information showing the PSC phone numbers, operating hours, and SSN jurisdictions:
NOTE: To inquire about remittances keyed prior to July 17, 1999, contact the PSC of jurisdiction. Direct all inquiries concerning remittances keyed after that date to MATPSC.
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 001-134, 729, 805–808
8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 135-222, 232-236, 577-584,
596-599, 691-699, 809–826
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 223-231, 237-267, 400-428,
587-595, 654-658, 667- 675, 681-690,
730, 752-763, 766-804
7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 268-302, 316-399, 700-728,
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 501-504, 516-524, 526-576,
586, 600-626, 646-647, 650-653, 680,
733–749, 750-751, 764-765, 827–867
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (M-F)
SSNs: 303-315, 429-500, 505-515,
525, 585, 627-645, 648-649, 659-665,
676-679, 732, 868–899
H. When to use the Office of Earnings and International Operations’ (OEIO) refund address
Do not forward remittances to OEIO. If needed, use OEIO's address to answer phone inquiries from debtors who want to mail a refund directly to OEIO. OEIO’s mailing address is as follows: Office of Earnings and International Operations
P.O. Box 17769
Baltimore, MD 21235–7769