TN 86 (04-23)

GN 02607.550 Payments to Prisoners and Correctional Institutions

A. Payments to prisoners

The No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners Act of 2009 (NSSBP) prohibits payment of any retroactive Title II or Title XVI payments to a current or terminated beneficiary or recipient who is subject to suspension because they are:

  • a prisoner;

  • confined in a public institution based on a court order for a criminal act (CPICO);

  • a fugitive felon (FF); or

  • in violation of probation or parole (PPV).

The law also prohibits paying death underpayments on the record of a deceased beneficiary or recipient to a surviving beneficiary or recipient who is not eligible for monthly benefits or payments based on the prisoner, CPICO, FF, or PPV suspension provisions.

For additional instructions on when the Title II NSSBP provisions apply, see GN 02612.001. For additional instructions on when the Title XVI NSSBP provisions apply, see SI 00529.001.

However, some payments and incarcerated individuals are exceptions to the NSSBP. Follow the instructions in this section when the NSSBP provisions do not apply to a Title II or XVI payment due an incarcerated individual.

B. Payments to correctional institution mailing addresses

Do not mail a paper check to a correctional institution’s mailing address. If you determine that the NSSBP provisions do not apply to a payment due an incarcerated beneficiary, recipient, or claimant who has a correctional institution mailing address, use one of the following payment methods:

  1. 1. 

    Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) is the preferred payment method. EFT includes direct deposit into a financial account or an electronic benefits transfer to the Direct Express® debit card. For information on direct deposit, see GN 02402.001. For information on the Direct Express® debit card, see GN 02402.007.

  2. 2. 

    If the inmate does not have an EFT account, hold the payment until they establishes one or the correctional institution officially releases them. To hold a Title II payment either put the beneficiary in miscellaneous S9 suspension status or leave the payment in the Special Payment Amount (SPA) field of the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR). Annotate the MBR Special Message field or Supplemental Security Record remarks field with the reason for withholding the payment.

  3. 3. 

    If Treasury grants an electronic payment exemption and the inmate provides an alternative address, send the payment to the alternative mailing address. For information on Treasury’s exemptions for electronic payment, see GN 02402.001B. Use caution when changing to an “in care of” address to ensure this change does not cause an assignment of the check to another person. For instructions on assignment of benefits, see GN 02410.001D.

If a Title XVI payment is subject to the Interim Assistance Reimbursement (IAR) provision, develop for an alternative payment method before completing any IAR action. After the IAR action, pay or hold any remaining payment using an alternative payment method. For more information on IAR, see SI 02003.000.

C. Correctional institution receives a paper check

If an institution reports receiving an inmate’s check, follow the steps in the following chart:




Obtain the inmate’s name and SSN and ask the institution to report any additional checks the inmate may receive.


Does a Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) record exist for this inmate?

  1. a. 

    If yes, go to step 3.

  2. b. 

    If no, establish a PUPS record following instructions in GN 02607.460 and go to step 4.


Did we send the inmate a suspension notice containing their appeal rights?

  1. a. 

    If yes, ask the institution to intercept the check and send it to the field office (FO) for coding and return to Treasury.

  2. b. 

    If no, send the inmate a notice containing appeal rights and go to step 4.


Ask the institution to photocopy the check, write the date of incarceration on the photocopy, and send the photocopy to the FO to facilitate our inmate status development.

Then, advise the institution to handle the check following its own check cashing policies.

D. References

  • GN 02607.972 Prisoner and NGRI Notices and Paragraphs

  • GN 02612.020 No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners (NSSBP) Title II Field Office (FO) Processing

  • GN 02612.040 No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners (NSSBP) Title II Processing Center (PC) Instructions

  • SI 00529.020 No Social Security Benefits for Prisoners (NSSBP) Title XVI Field Office (FO) Processing Instructions

  • SI 02101.001 SSI Underpayment Definitions and General Rules

  • SI 02101.020 Installment Payments of Large Past-Due Benefits – Individual Alive

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GN 02607.550 - Payments to Prisoners and Correctional Institutions - 09/12/2014
Batch run: 04/26/2023