We use the Beneficiary Recontact Program to detect unreported marriages and reports
of no child-in-care situations of young surviving spouses. Young surviving spouses
are under age 60 with a Beneficiary Identification Code (BIC) of E (or E followed
by a subscript), not entitled to widow(er)s insurance benefits, per the requirements
in RS 00208.001C. In the past, the Social Security Administration (SSA) relied mainly on voluntary
reports of marriage and other events that cause suspension and termination of benefits.
Studies show that some young surviving spouses report only when we ask directly, resulting
in significant overpayments that often go undetected.
The automated program mails Form SSA-1588-SM (Beneficiary Recontact Report), and a
notice to young surviving spouses to determine their continued eligibility. We require
all entitled young surviving spouses, with dependent child(ren) in their care, to
periodically complete this form to affirm their eligibility. The automated program
also sends follow-up mailings to non-responders. If we do not receive a response to
the final request notice, the automated program terminates benefits and notifies the
young surviving spouse of the action. For more information regarding nonresponders,
see GN 02602.308.
Prior to September 2012, we also used the Beneficiary Recontact Program to detect
unreported marriages of young children (BIC Cs), age 17, whom we paid directly or
had a representative payee. Effective September 2012, we eliminated the recontact
to beneficiaries (young children) approaching age 17.