Identification Number:
GN 02401 TN 40
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:DCBFM OFPO
Title:Checks - General Information
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part GN – General
Chapter 024 – Checks
Subchapter 01 – Checks - General Information
Transmittal No. 40, 02/18/2020

Audience

PSC: BA, CA, CCRE, CS, DS, ICDS, IES, ILPDS, IPDS, ISRA, PETE, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: BIES, BTE, CC, CCRE, CR, FCR, PETL, RECOVR, TYP;
OCO-ODO: BTE, CCE, CS, CST, CTE, CTE TE, DSE, PAS, PCS, PETE, PETL, RC, RCOVTA, RECOVR;
FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, CSR, CTE, DRT, DT, FR, OA, OS, RR, TA, TSC-CSR;

Originating Component

OFPO

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

This is a Quick Action Transmittal. These revisions do not change or introduce new policy or procedure.

The Office of Anti-fraud Programs (OAFP) released the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS). ARIS replaces the agency’s electronic SSA-e8551 (Reporting Form for Programmatic Fraud), with a re-engineered and modernized system for reporting potential fraud allegations to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Users may access ARIS via IMAIN or on the Office of Anti-Fraud Programs (OAFP) intranet page.

 

Summary of Changes

GN 02401.917 Title II and Title XVI Policy on Limited Payability (LP) Death Cases

Subsection A, We replaced the e8551 with the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) hyperlinked.

Subsection D, We replaced the e8551 with the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) hyperlinked.

Subsection E, We replaced the e8551 with the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) hyperlinked.

Subsection F, We replaced the e8551 with the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) hyperlinked.

 

GN 02401.920 Referral to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for Investigation

Sunsection B, We replaced the e8551 with the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) hyperlinked.

GN 02401.917 Title II and Title XVI Policy on Limited Payability (LP) Death Cases

A. Policy for title II and title XVI LP death cases

SSA sometimes generates incorrect payments that the beneficiary or recipient’s survivors subsequently cash because we receive late notifications of death. The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) can only reclaim on the incorrect payments 12 months to the day back from the last incorrect payment issued. See example of reclamation in GN 02401.917D in this section.

Treasury cannot reclaim for any incorrect payments outside of that reclamation period. We will pursue recovery of the incorrect payments made outside the Treasury reclamation period. Refer these cases to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for a fraud investigation, via the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS) as outlined in GN 04111.010.

NOTE: These instructions refer to payments by paper check and not payments by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT).

B. Incorrect payments definition

The term “incorrect payments” describes payments issued after the death of a beneficiary or recipient as the result of a late notification of death.

C. Pursuing incorrect payments in limited payability death cases

We will pursue the recovery of payments (outside of the reclamation period) that qualify as LP cases and that are issued incorrectly after the death of a title II or a title XVI individual as a result of late notification of death.

Unlike other kinds of payments to which a beneficiary or recipient is not entitled, incorrect payments:

  • are not legally defined overpayments;

    EXCEPTION: If SSA issues a check after the death of the beneficiary or recipient to a representative payee, the payee is overpaid. For additional information on overpayment policy, see GN 02201.001. However, if both the beneficiary or recipient AND the representative payee are deceased, we will not take recovery action.

  • do not have due process rights associated with them.

  • are not recoupable as an overpayment;

    NOTE: This means that the statutory and regulatory tools we use to recoup overpayments (e.g., automatic adjustment against benefits due other eligible beneficiaries/recipients on the same record, tax refund offset) are not available. However, if the person who cashed the checks wishes to repay us by monthly benefit reduction, we will accept that repayment method.

  • when cashed, indicates that the endorser acted with intent to defraud the Government; and

  • OIG may need to investigate the case with possible criminal prosecution if endorser fails to repay the money. For additional information regarding reporting guidelines for program violations, see GN 04111.005.

D. Reclamation period definition

When notified that the payee has died, Treasury defines the reclamation period as the period dating back 12 months to the day from the last incorrect payment issued. If SSA incorrectly issued payments for earlier months, Treasury cannot reclaim on them. We must request repayment from the endorser for these months. If the endorser refuses to pay, refer the case to the Office of the Inspector General via theARIS process as outlined in GN 04111.065.

Example of reclamation period:

John Doe, a title II beneficiary, dies on March 12, 2009, but payments continue after the month of death. SSA learns of the death in June 10, 2010, terminates payments and notifies Treasury. Treasury can reclaim incorrect payments from June 10, 2010 back through June 11, 2009. Treasury cannot reclaim payments for March 12, 2009 through June 10, 2009 from the financial institution that cashed the checks. We must request repayment from the endorser.

E. PC and FO workload processing

Title II cases are processed by the PC and title XVI cases by the FO. The technician will process the workload as outlined below:

  • attempt to contact the person by mail who allegedly endorsed the checks and recover the money;

  • refer to OIG via the ARIS as outlined in GN 04111.010;

  • remove the incorrect payments from the deceased's record;

  • annotate the record to provide an audit trail;

  • examine information found in the deceased’s file, on the master beneficiary record, supplemental security record, or the back of the check, and

  • send out a letter to the best lead possible.

F. PC and FO requirements when developing and pursuing possible leads

Use one or more of the following suggestions to produce a lead for the possible endorser of the check(s) issued after the beneficiary or recipient dies. Whenever possible, use clues available on check photocopies and the beneficiary’s or recipient's record. If this is unproductive, contact the deceased's estate for information or assistance. For additional information on issuing notices after death, see NL 03001.001.

1. Check issued after the death of beneficiary or recipient and endorsed with the name of the deceased, spouse, another relative, or with no name at all

If the check(s) issued after the death of the beneficiary or recipient was endorsed with the deceased’s name, the spouse's name, the name of another relative of the deceased, or with no name at all (e.g., “for deposit only,” bank account number, a Social Security Number (SSN)) take the following steps:

  • query beneficiary’s or recipient's record for last known address or possible lead to address of the endorser;

  • review folder for this information if necessary;

  • send a letter to the endorser or the deceased's estate requesting repayment or information regarding the endorser (For additional information, see NL 03001.001) and;

  • control for return in 60 days.

If letter returned undeliverable:

  • remove any SPA amount for title II and put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

  • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

If there is a negative response (person denies any involvement or refuses to repay) refer to OIG via the ARIS as outlined in GN 04111.010.

If OIG does not pursue investigation:

  • remove any SPA amount for title II,

  • put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death, and

  • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

If there is no response within 60 days:

  • send a follow-up letter in NL 03001.005.; and

  • control for 30 days.

If there is no response to the follow-up letter or there is a negative response (person denies any involvement or refuses to repay) refer to OIG via the ARIS as outlined in GN 04111.010.

If OIG does not pursue investigation:

  • remove any SPA amount for title II;

  • put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

  • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

2. Endorsed check contains name(s) other than the beneficiary or recipient

If the name on the photocopied check is someone other than the beneficiary, recipient or relative as explained in GN 02401.917F1, the technician should:

  • query the deceased beneficiary or recipient's record for any reference of the endorser's name. If there is an address for the endorser, send a letter requesting repayment or use letter in NL 03001.001; or

    If the address is unknown, send a letter in NL 03001.001 to the beneficiary or recipient's estate at the last known address requesting any information regarding the endorser and control for 60 days;

  • If there is no response within 60 days, send a follow-up letter (use NL 03001.005) and control for 30 days;

  • · If there is no response to the follow-up letter or there is a negative response (i.e., person denies any involvement or refuses to repay), refer to OIG via the ARIS as outlined in GN 04111.010;

  • If OIG does not pursue the investigation:

    • remove any SPA amount for title II and put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

    • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section; and

  • If letter returned undeliverable:

    • remove any SPA amount for title II and put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

    • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

3. No information on check

When the photocopied check reveals no information as to who might have cashed the check(s):

  • send a letter to beneficiary or recipient's estate at last known address requesting assistance or information concerning who might have endorsed the check(s) (For more information about the letter, see NL 03001.001; and.

  • control for return in 60 days.

If letter returned undeliverable:

  • remove any SPA amount for title II;

  • put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

  • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917I in this section.

If no response, refer to OIG via the ARIS as outlined in GN 04111.010.

If OIG does not pursue investigation:

  • remove any SPA amount for title II;

  • put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death; and

  • annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

G. Procedure for repayment methods

SSA accepts repayment methods outlined in GN 02403.006 to recover incorrect payments as well as the types shown below when Treasury did not reclaim the funds.

  • cash,

  • check,

  • credit card,

  • money order,

  • installment agreement; or

  • payment in the form of benefit withholding only if the endorser requests it for his or her convenience.

    NOTE: SSA does not suggest or solicit withholding because incorrect payments are not legally defined overpayments.

IMPORTANT: Because incorrect payments after death are not legally defined overpayments, waivers are not appropriate.

If the endorser reaches an agreement to repay the debt, explain the repayment methods listed below to the endorser.

1. Full refund method

IMPORTANT: Do not solicit a full refund for payments after death that Treasury can reclaim. However, if the endorser wants to repay the FULL amount of the incorrect payments issued, we will accept it, but caution the endorser that there is always a possibility that the bank will reclaim the money anyway and there could be a delay in getting a refund to them. If the endorser still wants to refund the full amount, contact Treasury to abandon reclamation so that the bank will not reclaim the money.

NOTE: It is a less complicated process if Treasury reclaims for the period allowable from the bank and the endorser reimburses the bank for the reclamation amount, then refunds the amount outside the reclamation period to SSA.

To receive the refund, the technician should take the following steps:

  1. a. 

    accept payment by cash, check, credit card, or money order; and

  2. b. 

    identify the case as a limited payability death case by annotating the special message field or remarks field.

See details:

  • GN 02408.302 Abandon Reclamation Request Needed on a Check

  • GN 02403.006 Processing Remittances Received in the FO

  • GN 02401.917H Procedure for annotating the title II and title XVI payment records

2. Installment agreement method

  • For setting up an installment agreement follow Collection of Title II Overpayments by Installments in GN 02210.180, and for Title XVI procedures, see SSI Overpayments - Recovery by Refund in SI 02220.025.

    REMINDER: Accept an installment agreement ONLY for checks cashed outside the period that Treasury cannot reclaim from the bank (i.e., checks issued more than 12 months back from the date of the last incorrect check).Do not accept an installment agreement for the months in which Treasury CAN reclaim the money from the bank; namely, those checks dated within 12 months from the last incorrect check issued.

    NOTE: There is no assurance that the person will be willing to honor the agreement or be able to repay (e.g., person dies before they pay the full amount).

  • If installment payments stop before we receive full recovery, send the follow-up letter found in NL 03001.005. If no response, no further recovery efforts will be made. Instead, follow instructions in GN 04111.005 for referral to OIG.

  • If OIG does not pursue investigation, remove any SPA amount for title II and put an NT-TAC in the OPDR field for title XVI amounts related to payments after death and annotate the MBR or SSR with the information found at GN 02401.917H in this section.

3. Benefit withholding method

Do not solicit benefit withholding as a method of repayment from currently entitled beneficiaries or recipients (we cannot enforce “automatic” withholding of benefits because incorrect payments after death are not overpayments). However, we can use this method if the endorser requests it or asks about repayment methods. Again, this is only for the period for which Treasury cannot reclaim from the presenting bank.

If SSA receives the refund through benefit withholding and benefits terminate, send a letter requesting a refund. If there is no response, send follow-up letter. If no response, terminate recovery efforts. If a legally defined overpayment (LDO) already exists on the endorser's record, the LDO has priority for recovery.

See details:

  • NL 03001.015 Claimant Has Agreement to Repay and No Longer Entitled to Benefits (Title II and XVI)

  • NL 03001.020 Follow-up Notice when Claimant Has Agreement to Repay and No Longer Entitled to Benefits (Title II and XVI)

H. Procedure for annotating the title II and title XVI payment records

1. Title II special message field

Annotate the special message field of the MBR: “Limited Payability Death Case for BIC __ mm/dd/yyyy paid via CPS” (Use the date of the check that the LP credit was issued against and the payment system used to repay the check)

2. Title XVI remarks field

Annotate the Remarks field of the SSR: “Limited Payability Death Case mm/yyyy” (Use the date of the check the LP credit represents.)

REMINDER: Avoid overlaying message fields with any subsequent actions.

GN 02401.920 Referral to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for Investigation

A. Background on OIG investigations

OIG investigates fraud cases that meet prosecutorial guidelines for the federal judicial district where the fraud occurred. OIG has several other courses of action it can take in addition to seeking federal prosecution. OIG may refer the case to federal, State, or local courts.

In addition, under the Social Security Protection Act of 2004, the Office of the Chief Counsel to the Inspector General may impose civil monetary penalties (CMPs) against persons who make or cause others to make, false statements (including wrongful conversions by representative payees) or omissions of material facts to our agency. There is no required or suggested minimum dollar loss to refer an allegation for CMP consideration.

For cases that OIG does not open as a criminal investigation, they will advise if the case meets the criteria for sanctions. For more information on the disposition of OIG’s investigations, see GN 04123.005. For more information on the criteria for imposing administrative sanctions, see GN 02604.405.

B. Forwarding cases to OIG for possible investigation

OIG bases their determination on a combination of several factors, including the dollar amount of the loss and other facts. In the event that the money is in the process of being refunded (repayment agreement), make note of that fact when forwarding the case to OIG. OIG may still initiate a CMP action if deemed appropriate.

Follow the procedures in this chart when forwarding a case to OIG for possible investigation:

STEP

ACTION

1

Contact your servicing OIG field office regarding your specific allegation. For addresses, telephone numbers, and jurisdictions, see GN 04124.010.

2

Refer the case to OIG via the Allegation Referral Intake System (ARIS). You may call your servicing OIG office for guidance.

3

When submitting the ARIS:

  • Processing Center (PC) employees should follow instructions in GN 04111.025 “How the PC Reports Program Violations.”

  • Field Office (FO) employees should follow instructions in GN 04111.010 “How the FO Reports Program Violations.”

C. Procedure following referral to OIG

Follow the instructions below after referring a case to OIG

1. Handling the record if OIG investigates

If OIG decides to investigate, do not take action on the record or send out an overpayment notice.

NOTE: Send a Limited Payability (LP) Notice to the beneficiary or recipient in those cases where there will be a delay in the check replacement until after completion of OIG's investigation. For LP notices, see NL 03001.030.

2. Handling the record if OIG does not investigate

If OIG accepts the case but decides the case does not merit an investigation, they will provide our agency with a written explanation of their decision not to pursue. For additional information, see GN 04123.005B.

Review the explanation. If a repayment agreement was proposed, accepted or filed, proceed with collection under the agreement. If no repayment agreement was proposed, see GN 02604.405 through GN 02604.447 for administrative sanction instructions. If overpayment recovery is appropriate, take steps to recover the overpayment. For overpayment recovery instructions, see GN 02210.000 through GN 02210.230 and SI 02220.000.

3. Written determination of the outcome

After OIG investigates and resolves the fraud aspects of the case, the Office of Investigations Field Division (OIFD) returns the case to our agency with a closing memorandum. If we recover any funds, credit the recovered funds. For more information on notification of disposition by OIFD see GN 04123.005C


GN 02401 TN 40 - Checks - General Information - 2/18/2020