TN 14 (04-12)
GN 02607.330 Provisions for Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST) Verdicts for Confinements Beginning 04/01/2000 and Continuing
A. Policy for IST confinement 04/01/2000 and continuing
NOTE: For a description of IST, refer to GN 02607.320A.
Public Law 106-170 (enacted 12/17/1999 and effective 04/01/2000) created two significant changes to the prisoner suspension policies. The changes are:
The court must charge the beneficiary with a criminal offense. The requirement that the criminal offense carry a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year no longer applies; and
The court must issue an order that declares the beneficiary IST as defined in GN 02607.320 and confines the beneficiary to an institution for more than 30 continuous days at public expense before we suspend his or her benefits.
1. Suspending benefits to an IST beneficiary
Suspend benefits when a court order confines a beneficiary to an institution for more than 30 continuous days at public expense, following a finding that the beneficiary is IST. This means that the beneficiary is unable to understand or participate in the legal proceedings in a court trial because of his or her mental condition. Suspend benefits until the mental health institution officially releases the beneficiary from confinement.
Step 1--Pre-trial mental evaluation
The court requires the beneficiary to undergo psychological evaluation to determine competence to stand trial. When the evaluation is completed, the court rules on the issue of competence to stand trial.
NOTE: Benefit suspension does not occur during the pre-trial mental evaluation period.
Step 2--Court decision on competency to stand trial
If the court finds the beneficiary competent, it tries the beneficiary on the criminal charges. If the court convicts the beneficiary, it will sentence the beneficiary to imprisonment in a correctional institution for more than 30 continuous days. If the psychological evaluation results in an IST finding, the court issues a commitment order to confine the beneficiary to a mental institution for more than 30 continuous days at public expense.
Step 3--Post-IST court ordered decision mental evaluation
Periodically the court orders the beneficiary to undergo psychological evaluation again to determine the beneficiary’s competency to stand trial. The psychological evaluation result will determine whether the beneficiary will return to court for trial or remain in the mental institution under the IST court order.
Step 4--Forensic (criminal) commitment versus civil (voluntary) commitments
In an IST commitment, where the court declares the beneficiary unrestorable to competency, the original type of the commitment usually changes from forensic (criminal) to civil or voluntary commitment. When this change occurs, the court generally drops the criminal charges against the IST beneficiary. The change in commitment type (from forensic to civil) does not affect the beneficiary’s suspension status. Benefits remain in suspense regardless of the commitment status until the institution officially releases the beneficiary and the institution ceases to provide for his or her basic living needs.
EXAMPLE 1--Incompetent versus competent status
Joan, a title II beneficiary, suffered mental trauma while committing a crime. The police arrested Joan on 03/15/2000 for her crime. Joan's attorney was concerned about her mental state and petitioned the court to declare Joan IST because she was not able to help in her defense. On 03/31/2000, the judge ordered Joan to undergo psychiatric evaluation and treatment to determine if she was competent to stand trial. Joan underwent psychological evaluation and treatment to help regain her memory. The court received Joan’s psychological evaluation result on 05/15/2000. It revealed that Joan was now capable of aiding in her own defense. Her condition was temporary and the court found she was competent to stand trial on 05/15/2000. We did not suspend Joan's benefits during the psychological evaluation and treatment because the court did not find her IST.
EXAMPLE 2--Civil versus forensic (criminally) committed
Bobby, a title II disability beneficiary, was in a car accident and suffered trauma to his brain. After the accident, Bobby had behavioral problems from his brain trauma injury. He committed a crime and was arrested and confined on 04/02/2000. Bobby’s attorney petitioned the court to declare him IST. On 05/20/2000, the judge ordered Bobby to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment in a mental institution to determine his competency to stand trial. The psychological evaluation and treatment did not improve Bobby’s condition and found him unrestorable to competency. On 06/30/2000, the court declared Bobby IST and committed him to a mental institution. Bobby’s title II benefits are subject to suspension effective 06/30/2000 when the court declared him IST and confined him to a mental institution. If Bobby remains confined in the mental institution for more than 30 continuous days; i.e., 07/30/2000, we will suspend his benefits beginning 06/2000 and continuing.
One year later, because of another evaluation, the mental health institution reported to the court that Bobby was still unrestorable to competency. At that point, the court changed the commitment order from forensic to civil. The court also dropped the criminal charges. His IST suspension remains and he will continue in S7 suspension status with an HFRST of MENTAL.
2. Effective date of the IST suspension
Suspend benefits effective with the month (including any part of the month) the institution confines the beneficiary for more than 30 continuous days at public expense because of a court order.
NOTE: Count “more than 30 continuous days” as follows: Date of court order (or confinement date if later than the court order date) plus 30 consecutive calendar days = 31 or more days. Count the day the court issues the order as the first day of the period then add 30 consecutive days to this day to equal 31 or more days.
3. Court order declaring the beneficiary as IST
A court of competent jurisdiction issues an official verdict, finding, or ruling based on the prevailing laws of that jurisdiction that declares a beneficiary IST and confines him or her to an institution for treatment. These findings may occur because the court reviewed the evidence and psychological evaluations during or before the course of the beneficiary’s criminal court trial, or because of some other administrative or judicial process.
4. Confinement of an IST beneficiary
For title II purposes, the confinement date equals the date of the court order, unless the mental institution admits the beneficiary later. In this instance, the confinement date is the date the mental institution admits the beneficiary into custody.
When a court issues an order to confine a beneficiary in a United States mental institution for more than 30 continuous days, we consider the beneficiary confined for title II suspension purposes.
Confinement includes either of the following factors:
Confined beneficiaries include those who are:
confined by court order for more than 30 continuous days as described in GN 02607.330A in this section;
temporarily hospitalized outside the mental facility; or
escapees or those who fail to report to begin court ordered confinement.
Confinement begins with:
the first confinement in any U.S. mental facility following a court order; i.e., confinement begins when the beneficiary is both confined for more than 30 continuous days; and
under a court order as described in GN 02607.330A in this section, for benefit suspension purposes.
Confinement ends with:
conditional release (official release from the institution that is subject to continued supervision or treatment and the institution no longer provides for the beneficiary's basic living needs). For IST reinstatement guidelines, refer to GN 02607.852.; or
official unconditional release (formal permanent release) from an institution.
B. IST beneficiary suspension does not apply
1. Court-ordered psychological evaluation
Do not suspend benefits when the court requires an institution to confine a beneficiary for psychological examination to determine competency (mental fitness) to stand trial. The court has the authority (a court proceeding) to require a beneficiary to undergo psychological testing or evaluation before it makes a final decision about a beneficiary’s competency. After the institution completes the psychological evaluation and reports its findings to the court, the court decides the beneficiary's competency and issues a court order to commit the beneficiary to a mental institution, if applicable.
2. Beneficiary is not confined
Confinement does not include:
release from the care and supervision of the confining institution; and
the institution ceases to provide for the beneficiary’s basic living needs; or
residence at an institution for 30 days or less.
C. Policy for auxiliary benefits when the wage earner or disabled wage earner is the IST beneficiary
Payment continues to all auxiliaries on the account when we must suspend the wage earner’s or disabled wage earner’s benefits due to IST.
D. Procedure for when the auxiliary or the survivor beneficiary is the IST beneficiary
If the IST beneficiary is an auxiliary or survivor beneficiary, suspend benefits as indicated in GN 02607.330A. through GN 02607.330B. in this section.
Adjust benefits to the other beneficiaries on the account under the deduction-before-reduction procedure. For more information on the deduction-before-reduction procedure, refer to GN 02603.040.