RS 02815.030 Calls From Beneficiaries
Although the beneficiary or his representative should contact the social security office about claims issues, some individuals want to bypass the district/branch office or also want central office assistance and call central headquarters directly. Routine acceptance of such calls increases Inquiries Staff's workloads, diverts resources from other critical cases, and may delay the resolution of the caller's problem.
When routine procedures for issuing checks break down, several remedial procedures may be used. The district/branch offices can use direct input systems and special procedures to quickly correct any of the causes for nonreceipt of checks (direct input of change of address, REACT, payment replacement procedure, wire query for MBR's etc.).
If the caller has not approached the district/branch office for assistance, and his questions cannot be immediately answered try to persuade him to call at the DO rather than have a service duplicated by PC. Of course, if he insists, take his inquiry.
Most calls from the public about checks fall into two major areas:
delayed payment — a check has not been issued, and
nonreceipt — a check was issued but not received. (In the latter category there may be added situations in which the caller alleges that the amount of his check is erroneous.)
A. DELAYED PAYMENT
When the caller says that there has been a delay in processing his claim, get a case control readout. The readout will give you the current location and the date the folder entered that location. This information will serve as a reference point to discuss the situation and to judge the elapsed time since the claimant filed his claim or appeal, as well as providing probable processing state of the claim.
In most instances, delay in processing a case is not a critical situation, in itself, and every attempt should be made to close out the call where delay is present. However, where the delay is really excessive, e.g., over 60 days since application, consider it a “critical” delay.
B. NON-RECEIPT OR CHANGE IN AMOUNT OF A CHECK
When a caller says that his checks have stopped coming or have changed in amount, the Specialist should attempt to find out:
1. Has Anything Changed in the Caller's Situation Which Would Account for the Suspension or Reduction of Check?
Did the caller receive a letter from SSA recently? A letter will give details of any suspension, termination or reduction of benefits. If the caller reads it or remembers its contents, it will probably give the basis for the current nonreceipt.
Did the caller change his address recently? a change of address could halt subsequent issuances of checks, particularly if he has been receiving the check at the new address with the old address on the check. The postman may have refused to deliver more checks. (The DO should take care of routine change of address matters.)
Has an auxiliary changed status recently? Married? Worked? Begun or stopped school? Reached age 18? Any of these events could interrupt payment. A summary of the event should be obtained and recorded on the worksheet.
Has any beneficiary been overpaid recently? Overpayment may be recouped from current payments. Ask the beneficiary if he has received notification of an overpayment or if he remembers receiving duplicate checks which he cashed.
Has the beneficiary been subject to a continuing disability investigation recently? Was the caller examined recently by doctors in connection with his continuing period of disability? Has he worked and been interviewed by the SSO in connection with his work?
Has the beneficiary started to receive or had an increase of Workmen's Compensation? Reception of WC benefits after his social security benefits began may account for a change in the amount of DIB benefits.
Has the beneficiary worked? If the caller is an auxiliary, has the NH worked?
2. Has This Event Been Reported to the Social Security Office? If So, When?
Most events which affect benefits should be reported to the district/branch office (DO/BO). If the caller has not done so, he or she should be encouraged to go there. The DO/BO has the following capabilities for quick action or information:
Direct input and adjustment for change of address, death notice, and other post-entitlement events.
Quick access to a current copy of the MBR for analysis of any suspense action.
Easy and free access for followup information from W/E.
Systematic access to the Treasury Department for lost or stolen checks. If the caller has been to the DO, ask how long ago. If there is reason to believe the D