BASIC (11-96)

SI 00832.001 Relief to Class Members Under Anderson V. Sullivan

A. Background on policy

SSA adopted its current national policy on treatment of augmented VA benefits in November 1981. At that time, SSA and VA set up automated and manual systems for getting augmentation information from VA for most types of augmented benefits. But SSA and VA did not implement a system for SSA to obtain augmentation information on protected pensions until November 1988.

On November 21, 1989, in the class action lawsuit, Anderson v. Sullivan, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana ordered SSA to recompute the SSI benefits of a nationwide class of persons (the Anderson class) who were disadvantaged because SSA did not fully and timely implement its VA augmentation policy with respect to augmented protected pensions.

On January 28, 1992, the court invalidated the method used by VA and SSA since November 1988 to determine the class member's portion of the augmented protected pension.

B. Definitions used in this class action

1. Augumented VA Benefit

An augmented VA benefit is a VA benefit that is increased, or which has higher income eligibility limits, because of a dependent. An augmented benefit, which for SSI purposes includes a designated beneficiary's portion and a dependent's portion, usually is issued as a single payment to the designated beneficiary.

2. Protected Pensions

Protected pensions are those VA pensions based on need that VA first awarded before January 1, 1979, when the improved pension was introduced. They are also known as Old Law or Section 306 pensions. Protected pensions are frozen and do not receive cost-of-living adjustments.

Under VA rules, recipients of protected pensions have the option of continuing to receive a protected pension or switching to the improved pension.

3. Anderson Class

The class consists of all designated beneficiaries of augmented VA protected pensions who were denied SSI benefits or whose SSI benefits were reduced or stopped because SSA counted a dependent's portion of their VA pensions as income to the designated beneficiary.

4. Designated Beneficiary

A designated beneficiary is the veteran or surviving spouse who receives an augmented benefit.

5. Dependent's Portion

The dependent's portion of an augmented benefit is that part of the benefit that is attributable to the dependent.

C. Anderson case — process

Individuals who see an Anderson poster or who received a July 1990 Anderson notice issued to former augmented protected pension recipients may inquire about relief. Members of SSI eligible couples who received an April 1990 Anderson notice may also inquire about relief. FO's will review the case of any individual requesting a review before the time limit expires (D.8. below).

NOTE: Many July 1990 notice recipients are not class members because they never applied for or received SSI benefits.

D. Anderson case — policy

1. Retroactive Relief

SSA will recompute the income eligibility and benefit amounts of all designated beneficiaries whose SSI benefits were denied, reduced, or stopped because SSA counted a dependent's portion of a VA protected pension as income to the designated beneficiary. For purposes of paying an underpayment attributable to a change in VA income in the relief period, FO's:

  • will assume that the class member is disabled or blind, if applicable (unless the SSR shows cessation), and

  • will not reopen issues other than the VA income amount.

EXAMPLES:

  • Mr. Snyder, age 50, was denied for excess income. No disability determination was made. If the change in VA income permits issuance of an underpayment, we assume, for purposes of the underpayment period, that he was disabled or blind.

  • Ms. Nelson, a class member, disagrees with the wage income posted to the SSR for part of the relief period in 1986. The wage income, however, is barred from correction—only VA income may be corrected under the Anderson order.

2. Beginning of Retroactive Relief Period

Under the Anderson order, VA income is subject to correction for months beginning no earlier than November 1981.

3. End of Retroactive Relief Period

The retroactive relief period for records with an augmented VA protected pension ends the month before the month in which SSA inputs the correct VA income (per 4. below) to the SSR.

If the class member stopped receiving an augmented protected pension earlier than the month before the month of input, the relief period ends with the last full month in which the class member received an augmented protected pension.

NOTE: In many Anderson cases, the potential underpayment period will begin October 1981 and end 2 months following the last month of the retroactive relief period because of quarterly computations at the beginning of the relief period and retrospective monthly accounting (RMA) at the end of the period. If a protective filing date is used (7. below), the Anderson underpayment period ends no later than the month before the protective filing date.

4. Correct VA Income for the Relief Period

The class member's portion of the augmented VA protected pension received in December 1978 (for Section 306 pensions) or June 1960 (for Old Law pensions) is the correct VA income for all months in which the class member received an augmented protected pension. The use of these amounts complies with the January 28, 1992 court order. For members of eligible couples, see 6. below for additional considerations.

5. Computation Rules — General

The Anderson order specifies the manner in which underpayments are to be computed once the correct amount of VA income is known. The method differs, in part, from standard SSI computations. See SI 00832.002 C. and D. for detailed procedures for computing and paying underpayments.

a. Active Records

If the current record on the SSR permits automated underpayment processing, the FO will input the correct VA income amount for all months in the relief period and the automated system will compute the underpayment.

b. Terminated or Denied Records

  • October 1981 - March 1982 For portions of the underpayment period in October 1981 - March 1982, when quarterly computations were used, see SI 00832.002 D.1.

  • April 1982 On: C01 Months After computing the underpayment for the first C01 (current pay) month showing VA income, the FO will multiply this amount by the number of C01 months on this and all subsequent records through the end of the underpayment period. The result is the underpayment due for the C01 months.

  • April 1982 On: N01, E01, T31, and T51 Months The FO will compute the underpayment for each “N01-E01 block.” (An N01-E01 block is a consecutive period of one or more months showing payment statuses N01 (excess income), E01 (eligible but due no payment), T31 (following N01), or T51 (following N01). An N01-E01 block ends when a payment status other than these four appears on the SSI record, when a new SSI record begins, or when the underpayment period ends.)

    The FO will compute the underpayment, if any, for the “test-month” (the first of one or more consecutive months of payment or non-payment used to determine the underpayment due for that period) and multiply this amount by the number of months in the block. The result is the underpayment due for that N01-E01 block.

6. Underpayments to Members of Eligible Couples

No underpayment is due a member of an SSI eligible couple unless VA recognized a dependent other than the spouse during some part of the relief period.

If the spouse was not a VA dependent, then SSA will pay the full underpayment due based on the designated beneficiary's corrected VA income.

If the spouse was not the only VA dependent, then SSA will include both the designated beneficiary's and the spouse's portion of the VA pension in the couple's countable income when computing the underpayment. (The portions for any other dependents are counted as income to the dependents and not income to the couple.)

EXCEPTION: For members of eligible couples who are residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington, see regional POMS instructions in SI 00832.316.

7. Determining Current Eligibility for SSI Benefits

The Anderson order requires SSA automatically to determine the current eligibility of identified class members. To obtain the detailed information needed to make this determination, and to provide full appeal rights on any determination made, FO's will obtain SSI applications from all identified class members who are not currently eligible for SSI benefits.

The first day of the month in which the Anderson case review is initiated is the protective filing date.

8. Time Limit to Request Review

Class members not identified centrally by computer and class members who are members of eligible couples must request review no later than February 21, 1993, unless they establish good cause for late filing according to GN 03101.020. Posters in FO's must remain on display through February 21, 1993.

9. Underpayments to Deceased Persons

SSA will develop the amount of underpayment due a deceased class member through the month of death if a surviving spouse would qualify to receive it. See SI 02101.001-02101.008.

10. Netting Underpayments Against Overpayments

SSA will not withhold (or permit the automated system to withhold) from an Anderson underpayment any prior overpayment amount if all or part of the overpayment occurred during the underpayment period. See SI 00832.002 C.2.e.

E. Anderson case — procedure

Use the chart below as an overview of the procedure for Anderson case reviews. (See SI 00832.002 for detailed instructions you must follow.)

If the Most Recent Record Is...And the Prior Record Is...Then...And Send...
C01 or E01 or suspensenoneInput new VA amount for the relief period.Manual form letter (SI 00832.004 A.), to be followed by regular automated suspense notice.
C01 or E01 or suspenseterminated or deniedFirst, manually compute UP for prior record(s). Pay by A-OTP. Then, input new VA amount to current record for the relief period.Personalized manual notice (SI 00832.004B.) covering prior record(s), to be followed by automated notice for current record.
terminated or deniednone or terminated or deniedManually compute UP for all records. Pay by A-OTPPersonalized manual notice (SI 00832.004 B.) covering all records.

F. References

  • Initial Review of Self-Identified Anderson Cases, SI 00832.002

  • Second Review of Prior Anderson Case Determinations Made Before Implementation of the Court's 1991 Enforcement Order, SI 00832.003

  • Special Requirements for Anderson Cases Involving SSI Eligible Couples Residing in the Ninth Circuit, SI 00832.316 (San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver Regions)