TN 33 (06-15)

GN 02406.700 General Information on Mass Loss of Checks and the Payment Delivery Alert System (PDAS)

Mass loss instructions do not apply to a situation when a Financial Institution (FI) does not receive an expected direct deposit payment file. If an FI reports non-receipt of a direct deposit payment file, see GN 02406.007D.

A. Description of mass loss

The term “mass loss” describes situations when all checks in a specific geographic location are undeliverable because they are permanently lost, stolen, or otherwise unavailable for delivery. A mass loss of checks can occur in the following situations:

  • Mail is destroyed or damaged (e.g., postal truck fire);

  • Mail is stolen from a distribution box or mail truck; or

  • Mail has never arrived at a postal station, and USPS, the Department of the Treasury, and SSA cannot locate the misplaced mail.

B. PDAS process

Our Field Offices (FO), Teleservice Centers (TSC), Processing Centers (PC), or Regional Offices (RO) generally become aware of a potential mass loss situation when a pattern develops in allegations of non-receipt within specific ZIP Code areas. Beneficiaries or recipients will notify their local FOs that they have not received their checks on the scheduled delivery date. The FOs inform the ROs that a pattern of missing checks has occurred. The RO PDAS Coordinator receives missing check information directly from the FOs. The RO PDAS Coordinator reports the missing checks to the Division of Mail and Postage Policy (DMPP).

NOTE: Checks normally arrive at the local post office a day or two ahead of the scheduled delivery date. Rarely does USPS notify the Central Office (CO) PDAS Coordinator of missing checks, even in cases of theft or destruction.

Once DMPP receives reports of missing checks from the ROs, the CO PDAS Coordinator passes the missing check information to the designated USPS PDAS representative. The affected RO PDAS coordinator, the CO PDAS coordinator, and the designated USPS PDAS representative will remain in communication until the checks are:

  • located,

  • determined stolen,

  • destroyed, or

  • undeliverable.

DMPP notifies the Director of the Office of Payment and Recovery Policy (OPRP) in the Office of Financial Policy and Operations (OFPO) if:

  • The delayed checks are for an entire zip code or multiple zip codes;

  • The delayed checks are from one or more Regional Financial Center (RFC); and

  • USPS cannot locate the checks.

OFPO then determines if we must implement a CO Systems Replacement mass loss. For information on CO mass loss input, see GN 02406.705D.2. If the agency decides not to implement a CO Systems Replacement mass loss, OPRP informs the Office of Public Service and Operations Support (OPSOS) to apply the mass loss non-receipt input procedures found in GN 02406.705D.1.

C. SSA and USPS communication process

Each RO PDAS coordinator makes a personal contact with DMPP at least once every 6 months. FO managers contact the local postmasters at least once a year. RO coordinators, FO managers, and USPS postmasters must have a general knowledge of the payment delivery and replacement process for SSA checks. Observation of the following points helps avoid potential delays and future mass loss situations:

  • USPS delivers title XVI checks on the first of every month.

  • USPS delivers title II checks on the third of every month and the second, third, and fourth Wednesdays of every month.

  • If the regularly scheduled delivery date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday; USPS delivers the checks on the first day before the date that is not one of those days. The check envelope displays the date of delivery.

  • Trays of checks arrive at the post office a day or two before the scheduled delivery date. The postmaster informs the local servicing FO manager of any abnormal conditions immediately.

  • The post office designates an individual and a backup to verify that the checks arrived on time.

  • If the checks did not arrive on time, the local post office immediately begins to trace the checks through the USPS distribution system. The postmaster informs the USPS area PDAS representative and the FO manager of the situation and gives the name and telephone number of the coordinator to the FO manager.

  • The FO manager must make USPS employees aware that a beneficiary or recipient must report non-receipt of a check to SSA so we can docum