TN 31 (10-11)

GN 02410.222 Garnishment Cases Involving Harassment, Abuse, or Life Endangerment (HALE)

A. Garnishment Involving HALE

We assign a new Social Security number (SSN) to a victim if he or she provides evidence for a new SSN and evidence to support the allegation of harassment, abuse, or life endangerment (HALE). The Office of Central Operations (OCO), Center for Security and Integrity (CSI) approves or refuses SSN applications based on HALE. The improper disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) in HALE cases places individuals at a higher risk of harm. See RM 10220.200 through RM 10220.240.

While no name or SSN of the garnished beneficiary appears on checks released by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), we must take great care to ensure that we do not compromise the SSN, name, or address for inquiries and notices processing in garnishment cases involving HALE.

The OCO Operations Support Branch (OSB) processes any garnishment case involving HALE.

B. Processing garnishment for HALE cases

After OCO/CSI assigns a new SSN to the number holder based on HALE, for a case involving garnishment, CSI forwards the case to the OCO/OSB, Payment Determination Analysis (PDA) staff and processes as a priority action.  OSB notifies the field office (FO) that we assigned a new SSN based on HALE.  OSB processes the Court Ordered Garnishment System (COGS) action on the HALE case.

1. When a HALE determination applies and a garnishment order is present in COGS:

  • OSB prepares the kill credit and establishes a new Master Benefit Record (MBR) on cases in any ledger account file (LAF) other than N or ND cases. See SM 00810.300, How to Change the Social Security Number.

    NOTE: LAFs N or ND will only have a special message annotated.

  • OSB prepares a special message to indicate the HALE status of the case. The special message reads as follows:

    HALE - GARNISHMENT CASE

  • OSB/PDA forwards the case to the OSB garnishment analyst to process the action to terminate COGS for the existing SSN. OSB reestablishes the garnishment order in COGS under the new SSN.

    You must forward any future garnishment amendment, termination, or inquiries on the HALE case to the OCO/OSB staff for processing.

2. When we receive a garnishment order for amendment, termination, or a garnishment inquiry for a case, and HALE is present on the claim:

  • Fax the order or inquiry into NDRed.

  • Email OSB, at ||OCO OSB HALE GARN , to notify them of the garnishment action.

  • The OSB garnishment analyst takes action on the garnishment order in COGS, or addresses the garnishment inquiry.

C. Other HALE processing requirements for garnishment

OCO/OSB notifies the court or the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) of HALE and garnishment involvement on the case.  OCO/OSB asks the court or the SDU to flag the case to indicate family violence.  OCO/OSB also contacts the manager of the servicing field office (FO) and informs them that we assigned a new SSN based on HALE, and that we contacted the SDU.

When we take action to input the new SSN in COGS, the notice address must be different from the garnishment recipient or their attorney’s address, i.e., LEGEND 1 on the Notice Address (OGNA) screen will not be to the address of these individuals.  The notice address in COGS will be for the court or the SDU that issued the garnishment order. See MSOM SPECPAYSYS 003.007, Notice Address (OGNA). 

If we annotate the ex-spouse or the attorney’s notice address in the OGNA in COGS, instead of the address for the court or the SDU, COGS generates a notice to the garnished beneficiary showing the ex-spouse or the attorney’s address. This places the ex-spouse in potential danger of abuse.

D. Customer service indicator on HALE cases

OCO/CSI annotates all HALE cases with a Special Indicator 6 (SSN ASSIGNED BASED ON HARASS/ABUSE/ENDANGER) on the Numident record. See RM 10220.230.  

The annotation of the Special Indicator 6 requires that the number holder (NH) must conduct all SSA business, both enumeration and benefit or claims-related actions, in person. SSA can only provide or accept information about the NH in person (e.g., an address change). 

If the FO questions whether a garnishment action involves HALE, they should check the Numident for the Special Indicator 6.