TN 36 (07-14)
GN 02410.211 Processing Foreign Garnishment Orders
Social Security Act, Sec. 459 [42 USC 659], Sec. 459A [42 USC 659a]
A. General policy for foreign garnishment orders
A garnishment order for child support issued by a foreign court or administrative agency does not generally constitute a legal process under the Social Security Act (the Act). However, these orders will constitute legal process and we will withhold benefits for foreign child support if the United States (U.S.) has entered into an agreement with the foreign country requesting withholding to honor the process.
B. Foreign garnishment orders for child support
The U.S. has established bilateral support agreements (reciprocity agreements) with several countries, Canadian provinces, and Canadian territories. These reciprocity agreements allow for garnishment of Social Security Administration (SSA) Title II benefits for child support.
When a garnishment order from a foreign reciprocating country (FRC) is recognized and enforced in the U.S., the law of the issuing country is applied to the duration of the order and the amount of support.
Process garnishment orders for child support from the FRC through the Court Ordered Garnishment System (COGS). Follow processing and documentation instructions for garnishment cases found in GN 02410.210. Convert garnishment withholding amounts that are given in foreign currency to U.S. currency amounts at the foreign exchange rate for the date the garnishment order is signed. For information on obtaining foreign currency exchange rates, see GN 02410.211E in this section.
NOTE: Do not process foreign orders for withholding other than child support garnishment. Forward foreign garnishment questions and foreign orders for withholding orders other than child support (e.g., an order for alimony or an order seeking restitution for crime victims) to the Office of Income Security Programs (OISP), Office of Supplemental Security Income and Representative Payee Policy (OSSIRP) address in GN 02410.211G in this section. Do not attempt contact with a foreign court.
C. Countries that have reciprocity agreements with the U.S.
The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) publishes a list of foreign reciprocating countries, available at: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/css/resource/foreign-reciprocating-countries.
Please see the following chart for a listing of countries that have reciprocity agreements with the U.S. for child support purposes.
D. Reviewing the foreign garnishment order
Foreign garnishment orders are subject to the same review as domestic orders.
Check each foreign garnishment order for the following:
Does the garnishment order appear legitimate?
Is the garnishment order for child support?
If the reciprocity agreement requires specific forms, did the foreign country use them?
Forward foreign garnishment questions to the OISP, OSSIRP address in GN 02410.211G in this section. When you send the question to OISP for review, input COGS to withhold benefits and code the payover field as “N” pending receipt of the reply. For procedures on annotating the COGS screen, see SM 00832.250.
E. Foreign exchange rate
We apply the exchange rate for foreign currency to orders received from FRCs to post the U.S. currency rate in COGS.
NOTE: Post the U.S. dollar equivalent for the date that the garnishment order was signed when you process the order in COGS.
Take the following steps in relation to the foreign exchange rate:
Verify the exchange rate by using the online currency converter website, Currency Converter | OANDA (OANDA Corporation). The U.S. currency amount will be entered in COGS as the garnishment amount.
Annotate the date of the exchange rate, the source for the exchange rate, and the exchange rate amount on the Report of Contact in the claims path (if available) or on the Evidence (EVID) screen in Shared Processes.
F. Delayed receipt of foreign garnishment orders
If you receive a garnishment order from an FRC that is more than a year old, do not attempt contact with the foreign court. Do not post the delayed garnishment order to COGS.
Fax the garnishment order into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed) for folder documentation. For an overview of NDRed, see GN 00301.310. Do not destroy the original garnishment order.
Send the original garnishment order with an explanation of your issue to the OISP, OSSIRP address in GN 02410.211G in this section.
If you receive a foreign garnishment order that is dated prior to that country’s reciprocity agreement with the U.S., do not post the garnishment order to COGS.
Fax the garnishment order into NDRed for folder documentation. Do not destroy the original garnishment order.
Send the original order, with an explanation of your issue, to the OISP, OSSIRP address in GN 02410.211G in this section.
G. Countries that do not have reciprocity agreements with the United States
Do not process a garnishment order from any foreign country that does not have a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. Do not post the garnishment order to COGS.
Fax the garnishment order into NDRED for folder documentation. For an overview of NDRed, see GN 00301.310. Do not destroy the original garnishment order.
Send the original garnishment order(s) from those countries that do not have reciprocity agreements with the U.S. with an explanation of your issue to the following:OISP, OSSIRP
Robert Ball Bldg.
Baltimore, MD 21235