TN 33 (06-16)
SI 01140.200 Checking and Savings Accounts
A. Introduction to checking and savings accounts verification
The Access to Financial Institutions (AFI) initiative is now operational for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility purposes in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Northern Marianna Islands. The two main components of the AFI process are the:
eAFI subsystem, and
The eAFI process uses the eAFI subsystem in the Modernized Supplemental Security Income Claims System (MSSICS) and the e4641 website to automatically request and view bank account balance data to help reduce payment errors related to financial accounts. Electronic verification is the preferred method to verify checking and savings accounts. For specific instructions for AFI, see Instructions for Electronic Financial Institution Verification SI 01140.206.
B. Policy for developing checking and savings accounts
1. Assumptions related to checking and savings accounts
Use the following assumptions when evaluating whether checking or savings accounts meet the general definition of a resource found in SI 01110.100.
NOTE: Consider whether evidence that the account is not a resource exists as provided in SI 01140.200B.2. in this section.
a. Account ownership
Assume that the person designated as owner in the account title owns all the funds in the account. For information about joint accounts, see Joint Checking and Savings Accounts SI 01140.205.
b. Right to withdraw funds
Assume that the person shown as owner in the account title has the legal right to withdraw funds from the account.
c. Right to use for support and maintenance
Assume that an individual who owns and has the legal right to withdraw funds from a bank account also has the legal right to use them for his or her own support and maintenance.
d. Conservatorship accounts
If State law specifically requires that funds are available for the care and maintenance of an individual, assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that they are that individual's resource. This is true despite the fact that the individual or his or her agent may have to petition the court to withdraw funds for the individual's care. Refer to any regional instructions regarding State law on “blocked or conservatorship accounts,” per Conservatorship Accounts in SI 01140.215.
Assume a fiduciary's right to withdraw funds is the same as the owner's right to withdraw them.
2. Factors that may preclude a checking or savings account from meeting the definition of a resource
A checking or savings account does not meet the definition of a resource if the account owner does not have the legal right to withdraw funds from the account or is otherwise restricted from using the funds.
The following are examples of limitations that may preclude a checking or savings account from meeting the definition of a resource.
a. Example of the right to withdraw funds restricted to a specified account holder
A bank account might not be a resource if the account restricts the right to withdraw funds from the account to a specific account holder. For example, the account titled “In trust for John Doe and Jane Doe, subject to sole order of John Doe, balance at death of either to belong to survivor” is a restricted account. The title is indicative that John alone has unrestricted access, and that none of the funds in the account are Jane's resources, since John is not her fiduciary and we do not deem his resources to her.
b. Example of withdrawals requiring authorization of third party
A bank account might not be a resource if withdrawals from the account require authorization from a third party.
For example, the title on the account is, “John Doe restricted Individual Indian Money Account.” Mr. Doe’s account is a restricted and supervised Individual Indian Money Account (IIM). The funds in the account are not countable as a resource because Mr. Doe cannot withdraw the funds without the authorization of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). For more information on Individual Indian Money Accounts, see SI 00830.820.
c. Example of use restricted by court order
Even with ownership interest and the legal ability to access property, a legal restriction against the property's use for the owner's own support and maintenance means the property is not the owner's resource. For more information on the distinction between assets and resources, see SI 01110.100.
For example, the title of the account is, “John Smith by Jane Doe, Representative Payee,” where Ms. Doe is an officer of the institution in which Mr. Smith lives. A statewide court order prohibits such officers from using the funds of an institutionalized person for support and maintenance that the State provided. Therefore, the funds in the account are not a resource to Mr. Smith while he is in the institution.
d. Example of special purpose accounts
The title of the account is, “Johnny Johnson, Kiwanis Club Fund for Heart Surgery.” While Mr. Johnson has unrestricted access to the funds, development shows that the account restricts the use of funds to the expenses of his surgery. Therefore, the funds are not a resource.
C. Procedure for verifying financial institutions (FI) accounts
1. Request account balances from the financial institution
The request type to verify financial account balances depends on whether the FI is participating or nonparticipating. For more information on participating and non-participating FIs, see SI 01140.206B.7.
a. Send an electronic request
Send an electronic request to verify financial account balances held in participating FIs.
To prepare and send an electronic request for MSSICS cases, follow procedure in SI 01140.206E. and for non-MSSICS or systems limitation cases, see SI 01140.206F.
b. Mail or fax a paper SSA- 4641
Mail or fax a paper SSA-4641 (Authorization for the Social Security Administration to Obtain Account Records from a Financial Institution and Request for Records) to verify alleged financial accounts held in non-participating FIs.
To prepare an SSA-4641, follow procedure in SI 01140.206E.1.b.
c. FI responses for waiver requests
Use account balance information associated with a waiver request to verify accounts balances for any applicable unverified months in the Financial Institution Account (RFIA) page where financial permission is present. If any Geographic search requests associated with a waiver request produce undisclosed accounts, develop the accounts per SI 01140.206H.3.
For waivers related to the defeat the purpose of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, see SI 02260.020.
For information on financial permission, see SI 00515.001.
2. Use the individual’s bank statements, FI records, or allegation to verify FI accounts
Electronic verification is the preferred method to verify FI accounts. However, in certain situations, you may have to request FI information from the individual. An individual may provide bank statements, FI records, or provide a signed statement as evidence. To request evidence, follow procedure in Information/Evidence General SI 00601.100.
The following are situations where you may accept the individual’s bank statements, FI records, or allegation as evidence of the account balances and adjudicate the claim event.
a. Accept the individual’s bank statements
Accept the individual’s bank statements as evidence and adjudicate the event when he or she provides all bank statements that cover the verification period in question.
For more information on determining the verification period, see SI 01140.206D.
To determine the first of the month balances using bank statements, see SI 01140.200D.6.a. and SI 01140.200G in this section.
b. Accept the individual’s bank statements or FI records
Accept the individual’s bank statements or FI records as evidence and adjudicate the event when:
The FI has not responded within 15 days of sending a verification request using eAFI or e4641.
The FI incompletely responded to a verification request. For example, the verification request included 20 months of balance data, but the FI responded with only 5 months of balance data.
The verification request pertains to an initial claim designated as a terminal (TERI) case.
The only alleged FI account is a collective account. To document collective accounts in the Financial Institution Account (RFIA) page, follow instructions in SI 01140.206C.7.
The only alleged FI account is a foreign FI account located outside the country and the individual does not conduct banking business with a national sister branch. For more on the treatment of foreign accounts, see SI 01140.206C.8.
NOTE: FI records must meet certain criteria listed in SI 01140.200C.3. in this section.
c. Accept the individual’s allegation
If no other evidence is available, accept the individual’s allegation as evidence of bank account balances and adjudicate the event. Document the individual’s signed statement on an SSA-795 (Statement of Claimant or Other Person) or on the Person Statement (DPST) screen in MSSICS.
NOTE: Process as a stand-alone post-eligibility event any electronic responses received post-adjudicatively.
3. Which FI records to use
a. Acceptable FI records
The following are acceptable forms of FI records:
FI original records that appear to be complete and unaltered.
FI records other than bank statements issued by the FI, and where the individual:
alleges that no transactions have occurred that the records do not show; or
alleges that such transactions have occurred and provides appropriate evidence of them; and
the records, the allegation regarding additional transactions, and the alleged current account balance (on the application or redetermination form) reflect a complete and consistent picture of the account.
Alternatively, FI records that were verified using the telephone (see SI 01140.200E in this section).
b. Examples of FI records other than bank statements
Examples of other acceptable records include:
the individual’s check register;
bank statements or account activity information printed from the FI’s website and submitted by the individual;
ATM transaction receipts; and
deposit or withdrawal slips.
4. Discovering a previously undeveloped FI account after eligibility has been established
If you discover a previously undeveloped checking or savings account after you establish eligibility, develop account balances and interest for the period that a determination can cover under the rules of administrative finality. See Administrative Finality – SSI SI 04070.000.
If you find fraud or similar fault, see Fraud and Similar Fault – SSI SI 04070.020.
5. Interest payments
Do not check block B.2 on page 4 of the SSA-4641 or the Interest checkbox when using the eAFI subsystem and e4641 website if SI 00830.500 does not require verification of interest amounts.
D. Procedures for initial claims and post-eligibility
1. Informing the individual of reporting responsibilities
Advise the individual of the reporting responsibilities as follows:
He or she must report any bank account on which his or her name appears, regardless of any special purpose of the account or whose money is in it; and
We may use other statements or forms to obtain information from any bank or FI to verify the allegations.
2. Obtain the financial permission before verifying financial account balances
Determine whether the recipient or deemor has granted SSA permission to request financial account balance information per SI 00515.001. You must obtain a wet signature for a paper SSA-4641 (Authorization for the Social Security Administration to Obtain Account Records from a Financial Institution and Request for Records). For instructions on electronic financial institution verification, see SI 01140.206C.
3. Account balance information
The FI may show the opening balance for the first day of a given month or the closing balance for the last business day of the previous month. Accept either; the amount will be the same.
4. Curtailing development of account balances
Do not verify account balances under any of the following circumstances:
The tolerance for verifying liquid resources applies and the individual is not rebutting ownership of funds in a joint account. For the liquid resource tolerance, see SI 01140.010C. For joint accounts, see SI 01140.205C;
Advance filing applies; or
The individual alleges countable resources in excess of the resource limit, and is ineligible for or declines conditional benefits.
5. Documentation of FI accounts
In addition to the account balances, document all of the following:
The name and address of the FI;
The account number(s); and
The exact account designation.
6. SSI payments included in first of month balances
Pay close attention to balances that might indicate an SSI payment is part of the first of the month balance. Review the case according to the following procedures if the amount of the SSI payment could be material to eligibility.
a. Early deposit months
Determine whether we issued the SSI payment and any applicable federally administered State supplement prior to the first of the month by reviewing the list of early deposit months found at SM 01315.005.
Deduct the value of the SSI payment and any applicable federally administered State supplement from the account balance if all of the following are true:
The SSI payment is pertinent to determining eligibility because the recipient’s resources exceed the resource limit by an amount equal to or less than the SSI payment plus any applicable federally administered State supplement;
The month is an early deposit month listed in SM 01315.005; and
The SSI payment and any applicable federally administered State supplement were direct deposited to the account.
b. Recurring SSI payments
To determine whether a recurring SSI payment is part of the first of the month balance, and whether you need to request additional evidence from the individual, consider whether:
The account balance is pertinent to determining eligibility;
The account balance exceeds the resource limit by an amount equal to or less than the SSI payment plus any applicable federally administered State supplement; and
The difference in the account balance could be attributable to the financial institution (FI) including the amount of an SSI payment in the first of the month balance. For example, the recipient has his or her payment directly deposited, and the FI credits a recurring SSI payment on the day prior to the first of the month balance.
E. Procedure for verifying account balances using the telephone
Follow these instructions to verify account balances when using the telephone:
Only use an automated customer service line to obtain account balances if it provides complete transaction information, i.e., deposits, withdrawals, cleared checks, and transfers to and from the account along with transaction dates.
To be certain that you access the correct account, dial the bank's customer service line and enter the proper account numbers. However, for privacy purposes, have the individual enter his or her login name and PIN number. Do not ask them to provide you with their PIN number.
Examine all account activity to determine the account balance as of the first of the month.
The records do not have to specify a first of the month balance; they need only make it possible to extrapolate from before and after balances. For more information, see the examples in SI 01140.205G.
Be alert for payments for both direct deposit and payment by check situations that have an advance date.
Treat any payment made early because the payday falls on a holiday or weekend day as income for the month of normal receipt. For more information, see When Income is Counted in SI 00810.030B.
F. Procedure for income-related issues
1. Interest for income purposes
For information on the treatment of interest for income purposes, see Dividends and Interest SI 00830.500.
2. Unusual deposits
When a claimant or recipient provides bank statements or passbooks for documentation, review the supplied evidence for deposits that you cannot account for from their stated income.
For determining what income is, see Income and SSI Eligibility SI 00810.001.
G. Examples of verifying account balances
1. Extrapolating first of the month balances
A bank sends out checking account statements that cover the 10th of one month through the 9th of the next. The last transaction shown for April is a deposit that creates a $100 balance. The first transaction in May is a $50 withdrawal that leaves a $50 balance. This shows that May 1st balance was $100.
Consider using other available evidence to confirm the account balance information.
2. Advance dated payments
The claims representative (CR) initiates a redetermination for a recipient on 05/10/11. The recipient alleges having the following resources:
Checking account balance $450.00;
Savings account balance $650.00;
Face value life insurance policy $1,000.00; and
Alleged countable liquid resources $1,100.00.
During the interview, the recipient provides bank statements covering the review period up to 04/15/11. To verify the first of the month balance for May 2011, the CR uses the bank’s automated customer account line. The CR identifies the deposits and withdrawals from 04/15/11 through 05/01/11 and notes that we direct-deposited the SSI check for May on 04/29.
The following table depicts the account activity and balance information for the savings account:
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transfer from checking
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The following table depicts the account activity and balance information for the checking account:
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check #1165 cleared
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check # 1164 cleared
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check #1166 cleared
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transfer to savings
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Total verified countable resources 05/01/11: $652.50 ($1,152.50-$490.00-SSI).
Since the 04/29/11 deposit was an early deposit of the May SSI payment amount, the CR does not count it as a resource on 05/01/11. The CR also could have used the claimant’s checkbook and bank transaction summary receipts for payment and deposit information.
3. Allegation of check that has not cleared the bank
A claimant’s bank statement shows a checking account balance of $1,350 as of May 1st, which combined with his or her other alleged countable resource exceeds $2,000 as of the first of the month. The claimant alleges that the statement balance includes a rent check of $500 written and given to his or her landlord on April 25th, but that the landlord has not cashed the check yet.
The CR examines the claimant’s check register and finds an annotation for check number 1345 for $500 written on April 25th. The CR also notes that check 1346 has already cleared the bank and the amount has been deducted from the claimants account on the bank statement. Next, the CR notes that the claimant has written a $500 check to his or her landlord for rent on the 25th of each month for the last 6 months since the claimant moved into the apartment.
Since there is evidence that the claimant has written the check and legally obligated those funds in the account, and the records provide a complete and consistent picture of the account, the CR can deduct the amount of the uncashed check from the May 1st of the month balance. The CR can deduct the uncashed check because SSI equity value rules state that in determining equity value, we deduct encumbrances from the current market value (CMV). The new balance of $850 permits resource eligibility.