TN 114 (10-11)
SI 00830.852 The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (Cobell v. Salazar)
Public Law 111-291
A. Introduction to the Claims Resolution Act of 2010
This section provides background, policy, documentation requirements, and instructions for how to exclude payments made under the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 (also known as the Cobell v. Salazar Class Action Settlement).
B. Policy on the types of settlement payments
On December 8, 2010, President Obama signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. The Resolution Act requires the Federal government to pay $3.4 billion towards three specific funds.
1. The Trust Administration Adjustment Fund
This Fund will reimburse a large number of Individual Indian Money (IIM) account holders due to inadequate historical accounting of funds held in trust by the federal government. There are two types of settlement payments made through this Fund. An individual may receive one or both types.
Each Historical Accounting Class member will receive a per capita payment of $1,000 per person.
Each Trust Administration Class member will receive no less than a per capita payment of $500 per person. The average payment will be about $800. However, based on the amount of money a member received in his or her IIM account, the payment could be significantly larger than $800.
2. The Trust Land Consolidation Fund
Currently, many parcels of trust land have multiple owners, making it difficult for an individual owner to use or sell his or her land. This fund will allow individual Indians to sell their portion of jointly owned trust land to the Federal government. The Federal government will then turn the land over to individual Indian tribes.
3. The Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund
This fund will improve access to higher education for Indian youth by providing scholarships. A portion of the Trust Administration Adjustment Fund and the Trust Land Consolidation Fund will finance this scholarship fund.
C. Eligibility requirements for settlement payments
To qualify for a lump sum or periodic settlement payment, an individual Indian must:
NOTE: Certain heirs to deceased class members also may be entitled to these payments; and
Identifiable IIM account holders and individual Indian trust landowners will receive a Direct Class Notice regarding the settlement. Individual Indians the Government cannot locate will receive notification through the media as well as through efforts of Tribes, government agencies, or other organizations that can help disseminate the class notice. Individual Indians can self-identify or apply for inclusion by registering at Indian Trust . All claim requests must be submitted and postmarked by September 16, 2011
NOTE: Recipients may be entitled to more than one payment and may qualify for either a lump sum or periodic settlement payments until all claims are paid.
D. Policy for excluding the claims settlement payments
1. Income exclusion for Historical Accounting Class and Trust Administration Class payments
For purposes of determining eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), exclude these payments from income.
2. Resource exclusion for Historical Accounting Class and Trust Administration Class payments
For purposes of determining eligibility for SSI, exclude these payments from resource counting for 1 year from the date of receipt.
Example: A class member receives a settlement payment on 10/5/11. We exclude this money for one year (November 2011 through October 2012). If retained, the money would be a countable resource starting November 2012.
3. Individual Indian ownership interest in trust lands
The Trust Land Consolidation Fund is a buy-out program (see SI 00830.852B.2. in this section). The funds received from the sale of this land are not income but rather a conversion of a resource per SI 00815.200. Exclude funds received from sale of this land from resource counting for 1 year from the date of receipt. Funds retained longer than 1 year are countable as a resource.
4. The Indian Education Scholarship Holding Fund
Exclude funds received under the Indian Education Scholarship fund from income. Exclude funds received under this program from resources for 1 year.
E. Documentation requirements for the field office
1. Recipient reports receipt of a settlement payment
If a recipient contacts SSA to report any of the above-mentioned settlement payments, document the information on a Report of Contact (DROC) screen, including:
NOTE: If the recipient does not provide evidence, accept the recipient’s allegation without further development and document on DROC. However, if the recipient provides evidence such as an award notice, please state “Evidence provided” on the DROC screen and fax a copy of the evidence into the electronic folder. Verifying the date and amount of a settlement payment may be useful for a future redetermination.
EXAMPLE: On DROC the claims representative inputs, “The recipient reported receipt of a $1,000 Cobell settlement payment on December 21, 2011. Exclude this money from income. Exclude this money from resources for 1 year from the date of receipt. Recipient provided copy of award notice.”
2. Settlement payment is material to SSI eligibility
If a recipient reports any of the above-mentioned settlement payments during an initial claim, redetermination, or other posteligibility action, and the recipient has resources over the SSI limit for any months under consideration:
obtain evidence to verify the type of settlement fund, the amount of the payment, and the date of receipt;
ask the recipient how much, if any, of the settlement payment has be retained; and
determine whether the one-year resource exclusion is still applicable to the recipient’s resources.