TN 2 (08-06)

PR 04015.014 Hawaii

A. PR 06-180 Service of Hawaii and Nevada Child or Spousal Support Orders

DATE: June 30, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

Proper service of a garnishment order in Nevada is by first-class mail, by electronic means, or by certified mail, return receipt requested.

Proper service of a garnishment order in Hawaii is by regular mail, by personal delivery, or by transmission through electronic means

The critical element for all types of service is that the person to whom support is owed (or the local child support agency) must serve SSA with the order and important documents and form which explain the rights of the person who owes the support

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked for clarification of the requirements in Nevada and Hawaii for proper service of support enforcement orders.

ANSWER

In Hawaii, service on the Social Security Administration (SSA) of a support order may be made by regular mail, by personal delivery, or by transmission through electronic means. In Nevada, a support notice may be served by first-class mail, by electronic means, or by certified mail, return receipt requested. As noted in a prior opinion, the critical element for all types of service is that the person to whom support is owed (or the local child support agency) must serve SSA with the order and important documents and form which explain the rights of the person who owes the support

APPLICABLE LAW

A. Federal law and Social Security policy

Under the Social Security Act, SSA is subject to the same requirements concerning child and spousal support orders as would apply if it were a private person/employer. 42 U.S.C. § 659(b).

An employer (here, SSA) who honors a garnishment order which is “regular on its face,” issued by a court of competent jurisdiction, who is properly served, and who gives notice to the employee so that the employee may timely challenge the garnishment has no further duty to the employee. 42 U.S.C. § 659(f); Millard v. United States, 916 F.2d 1, 6 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

Specifically, the implementing federal regulations provide that “legal process” must be served according to state procedures. 5 C.F.R. § 581.202(b) (2006). The government entity shall make every reasonable effort to facilitate proper service on its designated agent. Id. For the garnishment of benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, SSA's designated agent for service is the office manager at any Social Security District or Branch Office. 5 C.F.R. Pt. 581, App. A. According to SSA's Program Operations Manual System (POMS), service may be made on the manager (or his/her designated representative) of any Social Security Field Office (FO) or on any Program Center. POMS GN 02410.205.

Valid service is not accomplished until the legal process is received in the office of the designated agent. 5 C.F.R. § 581.202(b). The government will not be liable for any costs or damages resulting from an agency's failure to timely serve process or to correct faulty service of process. 5 C.F.R. § 581.202(b).

POMS also provides that a garnishment order must be served on SSA in accordance with the state law where the order was issued. POMS GN 02410.205. If service is not proper, SSA is to return the order of garnishment to the issuing state court. POMS NL 00703.726.

B. Hawaii law

In Hawaii, the Family Code provides that an enforcing agency may serve an income withholding order or notice to withhold child support on SSA by “regular mail, by personal delivery, or by transmission though electronic means.” Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 576D-14 and 576E-16(b) (2006). The Family Code also provides that service on SSA of an assignment by court order for child or spousal support may be made “by regular mail, by personal delivery, or by transmission through electronic means.” Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 572-52. Thus, in addition to the traditional methods of service, service by electronic means, such as a fax or electronic mail (e-mail), is acceptable in Hawaii.

C. Nevada law

In Nevada, the “enforcing authority” will serve “by first-class mail, a notice to withhold income to an obligor's employer.” Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 31A.070(1) (2006). This notice “may be issued electronically.” Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 31A.070(3). Thus, Nevada also accepts service by electronic means, such as a fax or e-mail.

Where the employer does not begin to withhold income, the enforcing agency will send another notice “by certified mail, return receipt requested.” Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 31A.070(2). Moreover, as to an assignment order, service “is binding upon any existing or future employer” who is served by “certified mail, return receipt requested.” Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 31A.280(1).


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1504015014
PR 04015.014 - Hawaii - 08/03/2006
Batch run: 01/27/2009
Rev:08/03/2006