TN 32 (05-12)
GN 02410.223 Garnishment for Court Ordered Victim Restitution
Social Security Act, Section 207,
18 United States Code (USC) Section 3613 , 18 USC 3663 , 18USC3663A, 15 USC 1673
A. Introduction to garnishment for court ordered victim restitution
A court can order a defendant to make restitution (repayment) to victims of certain crimes under 18 USC 3663 or 18 USC 3663A. To make sure the defendant repays the victim, the court can order garnishment of the defendant’s title II benefits. While section 207 of the Social Security Act generally prohibits garnishment of benefits, 18 USC 3613 makes an exception for these special kinds of garnishment orders.
NOTE: For SSA fraud restitution, see GN 02201.050 and GN 02201.055.
B. Process for reviewing a garnishment order for court ordered victim restitution
When we receive a garnishment order, review the order, identify the garnishee, and determine the current ledger account file (LAF) status.
1. Review the order to see if it is clearly for SSA to enforce, modify, or terminate court-ordered victim restitution
Look for the citation of 18 USC 3613 or 18 USC 3613 (a) to be sure that court ordered victim restitution applies. Either of these citations allows for garnishment of title II benefits.
If the garnishment order is not for court ordered victim restitution, see if the order is for child support or alimony.
If the garnishment order is for child support or alimony, follow normal garnishment processing instructions in GN 02410.210.
If the garnishment order is not for court ordered victim restitution, child support, or alimony, return the order to the court using the notice in NL 00703.728, explaining why SSA cannot process the order.
If the garnishment order is not for alimony or child support and it is not clear that the order is for court ordered victim restitution, send the order to the regional office for submittal to Office of Regional Chief Counsel (RCC) to find out whether the document is an order for garnishment.
Fax all documents that apply to SSA beneficiaries into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed).
2. Identify the beneficiary we are garnishing
Make sure the court order for victim restitution identifies the title II beneficiary.
Make sure the court order for victim restitution is for the correct Beneficiary’s Own Account Number (BOAN) and Claimant Account Number/Beneficiary Identification Code (CAN/BIC).
Make sure that you garnish the correct beneficiary in “same name” cases (i.e., Sr./Jr.).
If the garnishment order does not identify the garnished beneficiary (full name and SSN) or if you cannot find the Social Security number (SSN) from the ALPHIDENT, return the order to the court using the notice at NL 00703.728 with paragraph 3728B.
3. Determine the current LAF status of the beneficiary we are garnishing.
Process the order and input it to the Court Ordered Garnishment System (COGS), if:
there is a Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) in any LAF status (current, terminated, deferred, suspense, etc.);
a Modernized Claim System (MCS) claim; or
an appeal is pending.
COGS will control any pending garnishment orders when the beneficiary’s LAF changes to current pay.
C. If there is no MBR for the beneficiary and there is no MCS claim or appeal pending, do not input to COGS. Return the order using the notice in NL 00703.724.
Garnish for court ordered victim restitution against current or prior month accrual (CMA or PMA) payments. Do not garnish retroactively. Applying garnishment cannot cause an overpayment. See GN 02410.210A.2. Processing Garnishment Orders in the Field Office or Processing Center
D. Procedure for garnishment due to court ordered victim restitution
Garnish for court ordered victim restitution through COGS. See SM 00832.000 Garnishment System Table of Contents.
The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) only permits garnishment at a maximum of 25% of a beneficiary’s monthly benefit amount (MBA) for court ordered victim restitution cases. This will require a review for possible adjustment to COGS whenever the continuing benefits change to a lower or higher rate. Manually enter the withholding amount in COGS. See GN 02410.215 How Garnishment Withholding Is Calculated.
In the Garnishment Payment Data (OGPD) screen (see SM 00832.260 COGS Processing of the Garnishment Payment Data (OGPD) Screen) enter the following.
Enter an “N” in the “ARREARS 12 WEEKS OR GREATER (Y/N)” field.
Enter the withholding amount (not to exceed 25% of the MBA) in the “OTHER” entry field.
NOTE: When you must apply the 25% limit (court ordered restitution garnishment exceeds 25% of the MBA), round down to the next dime.
EXAMPLE: MBA = $ 974.60, divided by 4 = $243.65 (25%), round down to $243.60.
Enter “Victim Restitution” in the “SPECIFY (OTHER)” field.
Add a Special Message to the MBR to state, “Garnishment Order Involves Court Ordered Victims Restitution.”
COGS issues all notices for court ordered victim restitution garnishment.
E. Appeals and protests
Beneficiaries do not have any right of appeal to SSA regarding garnishment orders. They can appeal to the issuing court to dismiss or modify the order.
GN 02410.210 Processing Garnishment Orders in the Field Office or Processing Center
GN 02410.215 How Garnishment Withholding Is Calculated
GN 02410.225 Other Garnishment Situations
SM 00832.000 Garnishment System