TN 17 (03-11)
GN 02604.115 Penalties Regarding the Receipt and Acceptance of Benefits
A. Policy regarding receipt and acceptance of benefits
A beneficiary or his or her representative payee must receive and accept full or partial benefits before assessing a penalty.
B. Procedure for receipt and acceptance of benefits
1. Receipt and acceptance
“Receipt” of a benefit means the payee physically receives the check; i.e., receives a check by mail or direct deposit. Determine the check receipt date based on the address of the payee and other available evidence. Determine the date of receipt of a check based on the address of the payee and other available evidence.
“Acceptance” means to keep or retain the payment with the intention of negotiating it. Repayment of a check to SSA is acceptance.
Presume the beneficiary receives and accepts the check unless the:
Treasury Department did not issue a check for the month; e.g., SSA withheld benefits to recover a prior overpayment.
The beneficiary returns the check unendorsed.
Treasury Department pays the entire amount of the check under the facility of payment provision. (For information on the facility of payment provision, see GN 02603.075).
2. Benefits paid by direct deposit
Assume the beneficiary receives and accepts direct deposit benefits on the day of deposit. Assume deposit of benefits on the same day as described in GN 02604.115B.1 in this section.
3. Benefits paid by check
a. Payee lives in the U.S.
If the Treasury Department mails the check to the correct address and there is no evidence that it was misdirected, presume for:
Current Month Accrual (CMA) – beneficiary receives the check for any given month, or
Prior Month Accrual (PMA) – beneficiary receives the check within five days after the issue date.
If the check is misdirected or mailed to an incorrect address, presume the beneficiary receives the check within one month after the issue date unless, there is evidence to the contrary, such as the:
postmark on the envelope shows delivery did not occur within that time, or
the beneficiary files a report confirming that the he or she did not receive the check.
b. Payee lives in a foreign country
If the payee lives in a foreign country (other than Canada or the Philippines), presume the beneficiary receives the check within one month after the issue date, unless a non-receipt is documented, or we have official evidence to the contrary (the beneficiary reports the non-receipt, or we receive information from the Consular Office, or Treasury Department).
If the payee lives in Canada or the Philippines, presume the beneficiary receives a check within seven days after the issue date, unless the check was misdirected. If so, see GN 02604.115B.2 in this section.