TN 48 (05-18)
GN 02406.700 General Information on Mass Loss of Checks and the Payment Delivery Alert System (PDAS)
This section describes the ‘mass loss’ of physical checks, and how various offices respond to mass loss situations
A. Description of mass loss
The term “mass loss” describes situations when all checks in a specific geographic location or zip code 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 the United States Postal Service (USPS), the Department of the Treasury, and SSA cannot locate the misplaced mail.
NOTE: 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.
Mass loss instructions do not apply to checks the USPS holds due to natural disasters. See GN 02406.705B and GN 00410.020C.
B. Payment Delivery Alert System process
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 of non-receipt allegations develops within specific geographical zip codes. Determining mass loss often begins with beneficiaries or recipients contacting SSA with non-receipt allegations. 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 Central Office (CO) PDAS Coordinator in the Mail and Postal Policy Branch (MPPB).
NOTE: Checks normally arrive at the local post office a day or two ahead of the scheduled delivery date. Rarely does USPS notify the (CO) PDAS Coordinator of missing checks, even in cases of theft or destruction.
Once MPPB 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:
MPPB 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;
from one or more Regional Financial Center (RFC); and
cannot be located by USPS.
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 MPPB 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 to avoid potential delays and potential 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 the day before. 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.
The post office designates an individual 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 their RO PDAS representative and the FO manager about the situation and provides the FO manager the USPS contact information.
The FO manager informs USPS employees that beneficiaries and recipients must report non-receipt of checks to SSA.
Find Title II zip code reports here: Office of Retirement and Survivor Insurance Systems
Find Title XVI zip code reports here: Monthly Regional SSI Zip Code Reports
Find the RO PDAS contact list here:
View PDF Version
GN 02406.125 Transmitting Reports of Non-receipt, Loss, Theft, or Destruction – Title II, Title XVI Recurring Checks and PMA Checks— Normal and Dire Need Situations
GN 02406.705 Determination for Mass Loss of Checks.
GN 02406.710 Non-receipt Interviews for Mass Loss of Checks
GN 02406.715 Systems Processing of Mass Loss
GN 00410.020 Processing Payment Actions in Disasters