Identification Number:
DI 60099 TN 8
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP ORDES
Title:Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND)
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part DI – Disability Insurance
Chapter 600 – Research Studies, Demonstrations and Experiments
Subchapter 99 – Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND)
Transmittal No. 8, 05/19/2021

Audience

PSC: BA, CA, CS, DE, DEC, DS, DTE, ICDS, IES, ILPDS, ISRA, PETE, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: BIES, CC, CR, CTE, ERE, FCR, FDE, PETL, RECONE, RECONR, RECOVR;
OCO-ODO: BET, BTE, CCE, CR, CST, CT, CTE, CTE TE, DE, DEC, DS, DSE, PETE, PETL, RCOVTA;
ODD-DDS: ADJ, DHU;
FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, CSR, CTE, DRT, FR, OA, OS, RR, TA, TSC-CSR;

Originating Component

ORDES

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

This is a Quick Action Transmittal. These revisions do not change or introduce new policy or procedure. The BOND mailing address and SGA amounts needed updating.

 

Summary of Changes

DI 60099.005 Overview of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) Project

~ Edited the SGA amounts for 2018-2021.

 

DI 60099.075 Appeal Process for BOND Overpayments

~ Added a sentence in the fourth paragraph of the introduction.

~ Updated BOND mailing address.

DI 60099.005 Overview of the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) Project

A. Background on the BOND project

The Social Security Administration (SSA) conducts the Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) under the demonstration authority of the Social Security Act in Section 234.

Congress asked SSA to examine ways to improve the Social Security disability program and its administration. SSA conducts the BOND project to see if modifying our rules helps beneficiaries in their efforts to return to work.

BOND tests modifications to current program rules that apply only to participating beneficiaries who work and may receive either Title II or concurrent Title II and Title XVI benefits based on disability or blindness.

B. Title II program current rules

Under current Title II program rules, disability beneficiaries who complete their trial work period (TWP) and subsequently engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) have their benefits suspended after a three-month grace period.

1. BOND rules

Beneficiaries in BOND, however, do not lose their benefits at this point. Their benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 earned above the BOND yearly amount. In 2021, the yearly amount is $15,720 for a beneficiary who is not blind or $26,280 for a blind beneficiary.

The prior yearly amounts in this chart:

BOND Year

Non-blind Yearly Amount

Blind Yearly Amount

2021

$15,720

$26,280

2020

$15,120

$25,320

2019

$14,640

$24,480

2018

$14,160

$23,640

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Purpose of BOND

The purpose of BOND is to test whether gradually reducing benefits by $1 for each $2 of earnings made over the BOND yearly amount leads to increased earnings and employment for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries. In addition, we offer enhanced benefits counseling to certain BOND participants in a specific treatment group. The BOND evaluation estimates the impact of reducing benefits and the effects that counseling on work activity and earnings have on BOND participants.

D. Eligibility for BOND

The Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support (ORDES) provided a list of one million beneficiaries to Abt Associates (Abt), the contractor tasked with designing and implementing BOND based on the requirements outlined in DI 60099.010.

E. Initial BOND responsibilities for FO, PSCs, and N8NN

Field office (FO), payment centers (PSCs) and 800 Number Network (N8NN) sites did not have any role in selecting project participants or in implementing BOND. Abt recruited and enrolled participants randomly. Enrollment occurred between January 2011 and September 2012. If a caller contacts the FO or the N8NN sites with questions pertaining to the legitimacy of BOND, follow the instructions in DI 60099.030.

F. Implementation responsibilities for FO, PSCs, and N8NN

1. Abt Associates (Abt)

To minimize the impact BOND has on agency resources, SSA contracted with Abt to design and implement BOND. Abt has a national call center. They designed the BOND Operations Data System (BODS) that sends data to SSA via the BOND stand-alone system (BSAS). They recruited and enrolled Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries for the project.

As the implementation contractor, Abt’s staff:

  • assist BOND participants with obtaining proof of income, impairment-related work expenses (IRWE), subsidy, un-incurred business expenses, or special conditions;

  • issue receipts to BOND participants for each work estimate received;

  • assist with notice explanation or clarification; and

  • assist with waiver, reconsideration, and hearing requests for BOND overpayments.

2. BOND work continuing disability review (CDR) unit (L5R)

The Office of Research, Demonstration, and Employment Support (ORDES) established a centralized unit in the Office of Program Development (OPD) to process the work CDRs for BOND participants. ORDES established a special unit to handle the work CDRs and issue specialized notices for BOND participants because the work CDRs need special processing to protect the eligibility months of the beneficiary for the BOND offset rules. The CDR unit is also responsible to code the Disability Control File (DCF) and update the BOND computer systems for beneficiaries who are eligible to receive the $1 for $2 offset.

a. ORDES BOND mailing address

The mailing address for ORDES is:

Social Security Administration
Bond Project/OPDR/ORDES/ORD
6401 Security Boulevard
Annex Building 4303/ORD 4-P-8-F

Baltimore, Maryland 21235

 

b. ORDES BOND fax number

The BOND Fax number in ORDES is (410) 597-0149.

If you need to resolve a problem that you cannot handle under normal procedures, use the BOND fax number.

c. BOND office code

The BOND office code is L5R. To transfer a case in eWork to L5R, see instructions in DI 60099.030D.

Always fax documentation into NDRED or eView. Send an MDW to L5R when the case is a high priority. Do not fax information to L5R if you take the actions described DI 60099.005H.2 in this section.

For more information on the BOND work CDR unit responsibilities, see DI 60099.045.

3. BOND Stand-Alone System (BSAS)

The BSAS maintains a list of the names and Social Security Numbers (SSNs) of all treatment group beneficiaries randomly assigned to the BOND project. These beneficiaries are eligible to receive the $1 for $2 offset. In addition, the BSAS accepts a nightly file from Abt’s processing system (BODS) that contains earnings estimates for the beneficiaries who are eligible for the $1 for $2 offset.

The BSAS processes the earnings estimate and automatically creates a MACADE action to adjust the monthly benefit and generate a notice to the beneficiary. If the BSAS cannot generate the Manual Adjustment Credit and Award Data Entry (MACADE) action, a Manual Adjustment, Credit and Award Processing (MADCAP exception, or processing limitation results, L5R or Office of Central Operations (OCO) receives and develops the edit to completion and updates the BSAS with the corrected information.

If a MADCAP exception results from the MACADE action, OCO resolves the exception and updates the BSAS with the corrected information. OCO established this centralized unit to work the processing limitations generated when BSAS cannot automate the MACADE action and works MADCAP exceptions because L5R does not have access to paperless processing. If an FO encounters an unworked case, send an MDW to L5R.

G. BOND notices sent to BOND beneficiaries

1. Abt’s letters

Beginning April 2011, Abt sent out initial letters informing stage 1 beneficiaries that they were selected to participate in BOND. Abt completed the stage 1 mailings in August 2011. Abt began follow up outreach in April 2013 for stage 1 beneficiaries in the treatment group that had not been in contact with the project following the initial letters.

Abt began sending letters soliciting possible stage 2 volunteers in January 2011. The solicitation process ended in September 2012, when Abt obtained 12,600 volunteers for stage 2.

Working from SSA’s list of SSDI and concurrent beneficiaries residing in the demonstration project area http://www.bondssa.org/index.php , Abt sent letters to potential BOND participants who were randomly assigned to stage 1 or stage 2 see DI 60099.010A.

The initial notices from Abt are not stored in the Online Retrieval System (ORS). We do not have copies of initial notices from Abt.

2. SSA notices for BOND participant or beneficiary

A technician in L5R generates the following notices to a BOND participant or beneficiary:

  • start and end date of participation notice provided, after random assignment, an overview of BOND to explain the participation period;

  • work CDR continuance, trial work period, expedited reinstatement (EXR), SGA due process, reopening, reconsideration, and final SGA determination notices to participants or beneficiaries assigned to a treatment group;

  • BOND offset notice explaining initial offset and revised earnings estimates;

  • benefit rate increase (BRI) adjustment notice with the corrected BRI calculation for participants or beneficiaries BOND who receive reduced payment amounts due to the BOND offset;

  • end of year reconciliation (EOYR) determination notice compares reported estimated earnings with actual earnings;

  • appeal notice - provides a reconsideration determination for participants or beneficiaries who want to appeal the EOYR determination notice;

  • end date of BOND Participation notice explains when BOND participation ends; and

  • auxiliary notice explains when we are unable to make payments, or to explain reinstatement of benefits.

NOTE: ORS stores all SSA notices, except the start and end date of participation notices.

DI 60099.075 Appeal Process for BOND Overpayments

Similar to the annual earnings test under normal retirement rules, a Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) beneficiary provides an estimate of earnings during the year.

When the BOND beneficiary provides an annual earnings estimate of earnings higher than the applicable SGA amount, we apply a $1 for $2 benefit offset following DI 60099.040.

An overpayment occurs when we need to apply additional benefit offset based on the annual earnings posted at the end of the year. The master beneficiary record (MBR) displays BOND overpayments by the type of event (TOE) code of 80 with an explanation of BOND/BOPD DEMO.

A BOND beneficiary may request an overpayment reconsideration or waiver on the overpayments. Due to special rules and treatment that BOND beneficiaries receive, reopening's are not allowed after a final decision has been made on the EOYR process.

The BOND work continuing disability review (CDR) unit (L5R) is responsible for adjudicating the reconsideration requests on BOND overpayments.

The field offices (FO) are responsible for processing waiver requests and hearing requests (forward hearing requests to ODAR).

A. BOND beneficiary inquires about overpayment

1. Overpayment event type is BOND/BOPD DEMO

Abt assists the BOND beneficiaries with notice explanation and waiver or reconsideration forms. For more information on Abt call center staff, see DI 60099.025C.

a. Waiver inquiry

If the beneficiary decides to file a waiver, take the following actions:

  • follow usual procedures to post the informal waiver request in Debt Management System (DMS) to stop overpayment recovery (for information on waiver request, see GN 02201.034);

  • send the notice in DPS titled “Request for Waiver Cover Letter”;

  • complete an SSA-632-BK (Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery or Change in Repayment Rate) to send to the beneficiary;

  • refer BOND beneficiaries to the Abt call center after providing the Form SSA-632-BK. Find the call center numbers in DI 60099.030A.

b. Reconsideration inquiry

If the beneficiary is in the FO and files a reconsideration on a BOND issue, take the following actions:

  • secure the Form SSA-561-U2 (Request for Reconsideration);

  • update DMS to stop overpayment recovery;

  • store the SSA-561 in eView or NDRED;

  • refer the BOND beneficiary to the Abt call center after providing reconsideration forms. Find the call center number in DI 60099.030A; and

  • send a modernized development worksheet (MDW) to L5R notifying them of the action you have taken.

If the beneficiary is not in the FO, take the following actions:

  • mail the SSA-561 to him or her with a courtesy return envelope to L5R at the following address:

 

BOND Project/OPDR/ORDES/ORD
6401 Security Blvd.
Annex Building 4303/ORD 4-P-8-F

Baltimore, MD 21235
  • update DMS by keying an “explanation” request to stop recovery;

  • update the remarks section to show that the beneficiary requested a reconsideration and the date you mailed the SSA-561 to him or her;

  • send a modernized development worksheet (MDW) to L5R notifying them of the action you have taken; and

  • refer BOND beneficiaries to the Abt call center after providing reconsideration forms. Find the call center number in DI 60099.030A.

2. Overpayment event type is not BOND

Follow the existing rules for processing any other overpayments on the beneficiary’s record (including Disability DIB Cessation), even if he or she has a BOND overpayment on the ROAR, or is currently in BOND. For overpayment processing instructions, see GN 02201.001.

If L5R receives any reconsiderations that are not BOND offset related:

  • receipt into DMS and transfer to the FO of jurisdiction,

  • fax into the electronic folder eView or NDRED, and

  • send an MDW to the FO of jurisdiction.

3. Incorrect payments

A beneficiary may not appeal incorrect payments. An incorrect payment occurs when we put a beneficiary in deferred payment status to apply the $1 for $2 benefit offset for estimated earnings over the annual BOND amount in DI 60099.005.

Similar to the retirement annual earnings test, the system automatically places the beneficiary in deferred status for an incorrect payment to apply the $1 for $2 offset. The system collects the incorrect payments from the payable months and places the beneficiary in current pay only after collecting all of the incorrect payment.

If it appears, the incorrect payment has been collected and the beneficiary remains in deferred status, send a high priority MDW to L5R. NOTE: Do not issue critical payment or immediate payment (IP) to the individual under these circumstances.

If the work estimate changes, the beneficiary should contact the Abt call center and submit a revised estimate of annual earnings (for more information on benefits other than current year, see RS 02510.005E.2. and for more information on appeals, which are not initial determinations, see GN 03101.080).

NOTE: If someone is requesting a CPS, you should call or email Management in L5R. The phone number is listed in DOORS.

B. FO procedure to process a BOND waiver

If the BOND beneficiary decides to file a waiver, follow these procedures:

1. Waiver inquiry

If the beneficiary, representative payee, or authorized representative wants to file a waiver:

Follow usual procedures to post the informal waiver request in DMS to stop overpayment recovery.

Send the notice in DMS titled “Request for Waiver Cover Letter” with the form SSA-632-BK.

Refer BOND beneficiaries to the Abt call center after providing the beneficiaries with the form SSA-632-BK. Find the Abt call center number in DI 60099.030 A.

2. Waiver received in FO

If the beneficiary returns the form SSA-632-BK directly to the FO, follow the usual procedures to post the waiver request in DMS. Check DMS for an explanation of how the BOND or BOPD overpayment occurred.

If an explanation is not in DMS, send an MDW request to L5R with the ISSUE of ‘explanation’ and a category of BOND overpayment (BONDOP). The L5R unit reviews the case and provides an explanation in the debt management system.

The FO should continue development needed for the waiver.

3. Waiver received in L5R

Prior to transferring the waiver request to the FO, L5R posts an explanation in the debt management system to explain how the overpayment occurred.

Determining without fault and the inability to re-pay is the FO’s responsibility.

L5R notifies the FO of the waiver request via MDW. The MDW should also include a summary of any evidence submitted. The evidence should be faxed into eView or NDRED.

4. National 800 Number Network (N8NN) process for BOND or BOPD waiver requests

If you receive a call from the beneficiary, representative, or authorized representative requesting an explanation of an overpayment notice, continue to follow procedures in TC 26001.080. However, if you do not find an explanation in DMS, complete a MDW, send the request to “L5R” and explain to the caller that he or she should contact the BOND call center at 1-877-726-6309 (877-7BOND09). Beneficiaries with hearing or speech impediments should call Abt’s TTY number at 1-877-726-6390 (877-7BOND90).

If the beneficiary, representative payee, or authorized representative calls and states that he or she wants to file a waiver, continue to follow procedures in TC 26001.080.

C. FO procedure to process BOND reconsideration requests

The BOND work CDR unit (L5R) is the only office with jurisdiction to make a decision on BOND overpayment reconsideration requests.

Forward all requests for reconsideration to L5R by:

  1. 1. 

    keying the reconsideration request in DMS;

  2. 2. 

    faxing the SSA-561-U2 and any accompanying evidence into the Certified Electronic Folder (CEF) or Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Document (NDRED) as appropriate;

  3. 3. 

    sending an MDW to L5R notifying them of the pending reconsideration request.

For additional information about reconsideration requests, see DI 60099.075A.1.b. in this section.

D. National 800 Number Network (N8NN) procedure to process a BOND reconsideration request

1. Request for reconsideration

If you receive a call from the beneficiary, representative payee, or authorized representative requesting to file reconsideration on an overpayment and he or she is a BOND beneficiary or is representing a BOND beneficiary, follow procedures in TC 26005.030.

If you mail the SSA-561-U2 to the beneficiary, representative payee, or authorized representative, send the SSA-561-U2 with a courtesy return envelope to the following address:

BOND Project/OPDR/ORDES/ORD
6401 Security Blvd.
Annex Building 4303/ORD 4-P-8-F

Baltimore, MD 21235

2. Reconsideration follow-up

If you receive a call from the beneficiary, representative payee, or the authorized representative requesting a status of the reconsideration filed by, or on behalf of a BOND beneficiary:

Send an MDW to L5R informing them of the status inquiry and any additional information the beneficiary may have provided.

Advise the caller that you have notified the office handling his or her claim and that he or she will be contacted.

For additional instructions on handling reconsideration requests, see TC 26005.030.


DI 60099 TN 8 - Benefit Offset National Demonstration (BOND) - 5/19/2021