Identification Number:
EM-21022
Intended Audience:All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/TSCs/PSCs/OCO/OCO-CSTs
Originating Office:ORDP ORDES
Title:Removal of Federal Tax Information (FTI) from the Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) – One-Time-Only Instructions
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM.
 
Retention Date: 09/18/2021

    A. Purpose

This emergency message informs SSA staff that we can no longer use the SSA-3288 (Consent for Release of Information) to release Internal Revenue Service (IRS) earnings data on the BPQY to third-party requestors. Since the current BPQY systems do not distinguish between a beneficiary request and a third party request, we must remove the IRS earnings data from all BPQYs. As a result, beneficiaries will only need to sign one authorization (SSA-3288) for third parties to request a copy of the BPQY instead of two, as was previously required.
    B. Background

The BPQY is a tool used by Area Work Incentive Coordinators (AWIC), Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS) Cadre members, FO staff, advocates, beneficiaries, and other individuals, to assist beneficiaries with planning a successful return to work. For advocates and benefits counselors in particular, understanding the status of a beneficiary’s disability and their earnings history is the first step in planning a successful return to work because it provides information on how and when work will affect benefits.

The BPQY is a snapshot of the beneficiary’s benefits and work history as stored in SSA’s electronic records. It contains detailed information about the status of a beneficiary’s cash benefits, scheduled medical reviews, health insurance, work incentives, and work history.

Previously, the BPQY contained a yearly earnings history breakdown pulled from information contained in the Summary Earnings Query (SEQY). The earnings information on the SEQY is Federal Tax Information (FTI) protected by the Internal Revenue Code (i.e., IRS earnings data). This information will no longer be available on the BPQY, effective immediately.
    C. Why the IRS Earnings Data (SEQY) Must be Excluded from the BPQY

We have been informed that the authorization form used to release SEQY information to third parties (the SSA-3288) via the BPQY, can no longer be used. The current authorization form being used to release IRS earnings to third parties is the SSA-7050 (Request for Social Security Earnings Information). The business process for the SSA-7050 requires the agency to charge a fee to release the IRS earnings to third parties. However, our intent was never to charge third-party stakeholders a fee for the BPQY, especially when the purpose of their request was to provide return to work/Ticket to Work benefit counseling. Therefore, we cannot use the SSA-7050. As we explore other options, we must remove the IRS earnings data from the BPQY.
    D. BPQY web-based system and BPQY access system
    The new BPQY web-based system will still query the SEQY for IRS earnings data, but the BPQY report sent to the beneficiary/third-party stakeholder will not display the IRS earnings data. The old BPQY access system cannot be modified to remove/hide the SEQY earnings from the BPQY report. Therefore, we are recommending users only use the BPQY access system for:
        • beneficiary requests for BPQYs; and
        • when the new web-based system cannot generate the BPQY.

    As usual, if a BPQY cannot be generated, a manual BPQY should be completed.
      E. Alternative Methods for Beneficiaries to Obtain Earnings Information

    Even without the IRS earnings data on a BPQY, the BPQY is still a valuable resource to suit its purpose.

    However, if beneficiaries or their counselors/advocates still wish to obtain yearly earnings data, instruct everyone that the beneficiary can make a request for their Social Security Statement through their mySSA account, www.ssa.gov/myaccount.

    Beneficiaries without a mySSA account should be encouraged to create one in order to view their Social Security Statements, obtain benefit verification letters, etc. Beneficiaries may also request a paper Social Security Statement via mail by submitting a signed Request for Social Security Statement form (SSA-7004).

    Direct all program-related and technical questions to your Regional Office (RO) support staff or Program Service Center (PSC) Operations Analysis (OA) staff. RO support staff or PSC OA staff may refer questions, concerns or problems to their Central Office contacts.

    References:
    Benefits Planning Query Handbook (ssa.gov)

    SSA-3288

    SSA-3288 (Spanish)

    SSA-7004


    EM-21022 - Removal of Federal Tax Information (FTI) from the Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) – One-Time-Only Instructions - 03/18/2021