Identification Number:
GN 02401 TN 35
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:DCBFM OFPO
Title:Checks - General Information
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:Title II (RSI); Title VIII (SVB)
Link To Reference:
 
PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part 02 – General
Chapter 024 – Checks
Subchapter 01 - Checks - General Information
Transmittal No. 35, 06/2018

Audience

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

Originating Component

OFPO

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

This transmittal includes updates to titles and headings, editorial revisions, updates to language used by the Fiscal Service’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) when responding to a handwriting analysis request, and provides clarity to comply with the Agency’s plain language writing standards.

We revised the policy to show handwriting analysis is not necessary when the Social Security Administration (SSA) inputs the incorrect nonreceipt code, or fails to input the nonreceipt allegation at all. In these instances, SSA will either reissue the payment or use the payment to reduce or recover an overpayment.

Summary of Changes

The following sections required substantive changes to policies or procedures based on current language we receive from Fiscal Service’s QDB. We made grammatical changes to comply with agency rules and updated the headings to make them more meaningful.

GN 02401.908 Description of Forms or Letters Used or Reviewed By the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) Questioned Documents Branch (QDB)

We updated the title to provide clarity to the section, applied plain language writing, and removed language.

We updated the subsections as follows:

Subsection A, removed any reference to photocopy and status requests since this information is available on the Treasury Check Information System. We added instructions to inform technicians of action required when form is lost or not received;

Subsection B, clarified when to use the FMS-3858, and removed references to photocopy and status requests;

Subsection C, changed formatting and revised language for readability and clarity;

Subsection D, made a minor change showing the QDB acronym; and

Subsection E, moved all references to this subsection for readability.

GN 02401.910 Handwriting Analysis and Checks Older than 12 Months

Subsection A, we revised entirely as follows:

    • changed the section title to “When to request a handwriting analysis”;
    • added language informing the technicians to submit a handwriting analysis request to Treasury only when the check in question is older than 12 months and the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee fails to file a timely nonreceipt request, and the check in question is part of an overpayment on the record; and
    • added an example to further clarify when it is necessary to request a handwriting analysis.
Subsection B, we revised entirely as follows:
    • changed the section title to “When not to request a handwriting analysis”; and
    • added language informing the technicians not to submit a handwriting analysis request when SSA makes an error failing to input a nonreceipt allegation or inputting the incorrect nonreceipt code.
Subsections B.1. through Subsection F., we removed these subsections and created the following new sections to provide clarity for the technicians. We moved information from section GN 02401.910 and expanded on the language for readability.

GN 02401.911 Preparing the Handwriting Analysis Package for Treasury’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) Review

GN 02401.912 Forwarding the Handwriting Analysis Package to the Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) for Review

GN 02401.913 SSA Review of the Handwriting Analysis Letter (HAL) from Treasury’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB)


GN 02401.908 Description of Forms or Letters Used or Reviewed By the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) Questioned Documents Branch (QDB)

A. Form FMS-1133

Treasury generates Form FMS-1133 (Claim Against the United States for the Proceeds of a Government Check) when the Social Security Administration (SSA) inputs a nonreceipt or stop payment request for Title II or Title XVI checks. The form contains questions the beneficiary, recipient or representative payee must complete in order to assist Treasury in determining if the check in question is forged.

If the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee loses or does not receive the form, the field office (FO), Teleservice center (TSC) or program service center (PSC) may do a one-time print of the FMS-1133 from the Treasury Check Information System (TCIS). If FO or TSC personnel need additional printed forms, contact the Regional Office through normal communication (vHelp); PSC personnel can contact their Operations Analysis Staff, or contact Treasury at 855-868-0151, if necessary. The form is available for print until Treasury receives the completed FMS-1133.

Treasury will not provide the form when SSA uses a non-permanent stop code to request a certified photocopy (L-stop).

NOTE: Do not input regular photocopy or status requests through the SSA system because this information is available on TCIS.

B. Form FMS-3858

Treasury generates the white routing Form FMS-3858 (Claims Document) when responding to a nonreceipt, stop payment, or certified photocopy input. The form contains essential information about:

  • the alleged missing Title II or Title XVI check (number, symbol, amount, and date);

  • the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee’s name and address;

  • the stop code input by SSA, Treasury’s status code response; and

  • other pertinent check information.

Treasury generates an FMS-3858, along with a photocopy of the cashed check, when a technician inputs:

  • a nonreceipt or stop payment of the original check and the check was cashed;

  • nonreceipt of a replacement check and the check was cashed; or

  • certified photocopy (L-stop).

In addition, Treasury returns the form and photocopy of the check when:

  • the previously gave SSA a credit for a check that has since been cashed; or

  • they issued a replacement check and the original check is subsequently cashed (possible overpayment situation).

C. Check information and payee signature (CIPS) letter

SSA sends the CIPS letter to the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee to obtain recent signatures to present to Treasury’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) for a handwriting analysis determination.

Treasury’s QDB uses the CIPS letter to compare the recent signatures submitted by SSA and returns a decision for additional processing.

NOTE: If the SSA technician uses any other form or document to obtain signatures, Treasury takes no action on the request and returns the unprocessed form to the sender.

D. Handwriting Analysis Letter (HAL) final report

The HAL is the final report from the Treasury QDB. The report must appear on Treasury letterhead. It describes the results of the handwriting analysis performed by the document examiner in the QDB. The letter normally has three headings:

  1. Questioned (details which checks were reviewed);

  2. Standard (details what was used for signature comparison); and

  3. Report (details the results of the handwriting analysis).

For an example of a completed HAL, see NL 03001.065.

E. References

  • GN 02406.160 When to Use Forms FMS-1133 and FMS-3858

  • SM 01315.210 When Treasury Will Send a FMS-3858

  • SM 01315.212 How to Read a FMS-3858

  • SM 01315.213 How to Process a FMS-3858/FMS-1133

  • NL 03001.055 Request for Check Information and Payee Signature Letter

  • NL 03001.060 Cover Letter for Limited Payability Cases Requesting Handwriting Analysis from the Department of the Treasury (Treasury)

GN 02401.910 Handwriting Analysis and Checks Older than 12 Months

The Department of the Treasury (Treasury) performs a handwriting analysis to provide an indication about whether the beneficiary, representative payee, or intended recipient may have authored the endorsement on a questioned check.

This POMS section applies only to checks that are older than 12 months, where the nonreceipt allegation was not timely. When the beneficiary, representative payee, or intended recipient files a timely nonreceipt request, this is not a handwriting analysis situation. Process the timely nonreceipt request per GN 02406.120 and GN 02406.125.

A. When to request a handwriting analysis

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will only request a handwriting analysis from the Treasury Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) when the check in question is older than 12 months and:

  1. The beneficiary, recipient or representative payee fails to file a timely nonreceipt request, and

  2. The check in question is part of an overpayment on the record.

Example of a check that is older than 12 months, the check payee did not file a timely nonreceipt, and the check in question is part of an overpayment:

Mark Coleman received an overpayment notice dated June 2015 stating that he is overpaid $1200.00 for April 2014. Mr. Coleman contacted SSA and stated that he did not receive the payment in question. A review of the record indicates Mr. Coleman never filed a nonreceipt for the payment.

Because the check that is part of an overpayment is now older than 12 months, and the nonreceipt was not filed timely; the technician will submit this case for a handwriting analysis. 

Upon receipt of the handwriting analysis, follow processing procedures found in GN 02401.913.

For additional information on preparing and sending the handwriting analysis package, see GN 02401.911 and GN 02401.912.

B. When not to request a handwriting analysis

Do not request a handwriting analysis for a check older than 12 months when:

  • A beneficiary, recipient or representative payee timely alleged nonreceipt per GN 02401.902A, and

  • SSA did not submit the nonreceipt allegation to Treasury within 12 months.

The technician will follow the procedures outlined in GN 02401.902 for repaying the payment.

GN 02401.911 Preparing the Handwriting Analysis Package for Treasury’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) Review

Request a handwriting analysis for a cashed check older than 12 months old only if the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee did not file nonreceipt timely, and the missing payment is a part of an overpayment on the record.

A. Assembling the handwriting analysis package

When we need a handwriting analysis on a check older than 12 months, manually prepare the Check Information and Payee Signature (CIPS) letter and the handwriting analysis cover letter. Attach additional signature standards currently in SSA records (signed SSA-795) for each handwriting analysis request.

The handwriting analysis cover letter located in section NL 03001.060 consists of five sections:

  1. Agency Case Contact Information;

  2. Payee Name and Account or ID Number;

  3. Questioned Items (i.e., check number);

  4. Standard (signature); and

  5. Any other instructions to assist Treasury with its determination.

B. Retrieve photocopies for Title II cases

Check copies containing the beneficiary’s signature must accompany the documentation for a handwriting analysis.

Take the following actions to obtain Title II check copies:

1. Field Office (FO) actions

FOs take the following actions:

  1. Access the Treasury Check Information System (TCIS) to obtain check copies, if available;

  2. Contact Treasury at (855) 868-0151 to request an original photocopy of the check if the photocopies of the check(s) are missing, cannot be located or are not available on TCIS;

  3. Set a 30-day control for return of original photocopies; and

  4. Follow up with Treasury at (855) 868-0151 if they do not send the photocopies.

2. Program Service Center (PSC) actions

PSCs take the following actions:

  1. Access TCIS to obtain check copies, if available;

  2. Search eView, NDRED, Read Only Query System (ROQS) or paperless to see if the check photocopy is available if the check is not available in TCIS;

  3. Contact Treasury at (855) 868-0151 to request an original photocopy of the check if TCIS is unavailable or there are no check copies available;

  4. Set a 30-day control for return of original photocopies; and

  5. Follow up with Treasury at (855) 868-0151 if they do not send the photocopies.

C. Retrieve photocopies for Title XVI cases

The FOs take the following actions:

  1. Access TCIS to obtain check copies, if available;

  2. Contact Treasury at (855) 868-0151 to request an original photocopy of the check if TCIS is unavailable or there are no check copies available;

  3. Set a 30-day control for return of original photocopies; and

  4. Follow up with Treasury at (855) 868-0151 if they do not send the photocopies.

D. Obtain completed Request for Check Information and Payee Signature (CIPS) letter

The CIPS letter is the only letter the Treasury QDB accepts to request a handwriting analysis.

If the beneficiary returns the completed CIPS letter to SSA, see instructions for reviewing the letter prior to forwarding it to Treasury for a handwriting analysis in GN 02401.912.

1. PSC actions

The PSC takes the following actions:

  1. Prepare a separate request for CIPS letter for each check submitted for handwriting analysis;

  2. Scan a photocopy of the check(s), and the request for CIPS letter into Paperless as non-actionable;

  3. Mail the documents (check photocopy and CIPS letter) to the beneficiary for examination and completion, per NL 03001.055;

  4. Include a self-addressed envelope for return of the documents to the PC and set a 60-day control for return of the forms;

  5. If the request for CIPS Letter is not returned within 60 days, resend material to the beneficiary;

  6. Upon receipt of a completed CIPS Letter, review the letter to ensure the beneficiary completed the form and signed all six boxes;

  7. After examining the check copy, if the beneficiary does not wish to pursue the nonreceipt allegation (e.g., he or she recognizes his or her own signature), scan the completed form into paperless as non-actionable. The responses to the questions on the signed form provide the necessary information to make this determination; and

  8. For additional information on reviewing the form prior to a handwriting analysis, see instructions in GN 02401.912.

2. FO actions

The FOs take the following actions:

  1. After obtaining photocopy(ies) from TCIS, eView or the PC, mail a photocopy of the check(s), and the request for CIPS letter to the beneficiary or recipient for examination and completion.

    NOTE: These are the only letters we will use to request a signature for a handwriting analysis. To view the request for CIPS letter, see NL 03001.055.

  2. Provide assistance when necessary if the beneficiary or recipient visits the FO directly.

  3. Prepare a separate request for CIPS letter for each check submitted for handwriting analysis.

  4. Scan a photocopy of the check(s), and the request for CIPS letter into Paperless as non-actionable.

  5. Include a self-addressed envelope for return of the documents to the FO and set a 60-day control for return of forms. Upon receipt, retain a copy of the CIPS letter in an electronic file.

  6. If the beneficiary or recipient does not return the request for CIPS letter within 60 days, resend the material to the beneficiary.

  7. Upon receipt of a completed CIPS letter, review the letter to ensure the recipient completed the form and signed all six boxes.

  8. After examining the check copy and you determine based on the responses on the form that the beneficiary or recipient does not wish to pursue the nonreceipt allegation (e.g., he or she recognizes his or her own signature), scan the completed form into paperless as non-actionable. The responses to the questions on the signed form provide the necessary information to make this determination.

  9. Retain a copy of the completed CIPS letter in the electronic file.

  10. For additional information on reviewing the form prior to submitting it for a handwriting analysis, see instructions in GN 02401.912.

E. Check Information and Payee Signature Letter (CIPS) returned incomplete

If the beneficiary or recipient returns an incomplete CIPS Letter (questions left unanswered, signature examples are missing) take the following actions:

NOTE: Do not direct the beneficiary, representative payee, or recipient to contact Treasury. Only SSA technicians will coordinate with Treasury.

1. PSC actions for Title II cases

PSCs take the following actions:

  1. Re-mail the incomplete CIPS letter to the check payee informing him or her to complete the incomplete items on the form to expedite processing. Control for 30 days;

  2. If the PC does not receive the completed CIPS letter in 30 days, attempt to contact the beneficiary via phone;

    1. If no response to phone contact, forward the material to the FO for follow-up. The FO will contact the beneficiary to come in and complete the CIPS letter; and

    2. If no response to FO contact, the FO technician will scan material into an electronic file.

  3. If the beneficiary returns the completed CIPS letter to SSA, see instructions for reviewing the letter prior to forwarding it to Treasury for a handwriting analysis in GN 02401.912.

2. Office of Financial Policy and Operations, Division of Benefit Certification and Systems Analysis (DBCSA) responsibility for Title XVI cases

If the DBCSA receives a Title XVI CIPS letter, the technician will forward it with a transmittal to the FO for completion.

3. FO responsibility for Title XVI cases

If the FO technician receives an incomplete CIPS letter, contact the recipient to complete the letter.

For PC referrals forward completed materials back to the PC.

For DBCSA referrals, the FO retains an electronic file copy of the completed materials and processes original documents per GN 02401.912.

If the recipient returns the completed CIPS letter to SSA, see instructions on reviewing the letter prior to forwarding it to Treasury for a handwriting analysis in GN 02401.912.

NOTE: Do not direct the beneficiary, representative payee, or recipient to contact Treasury. Only SSA technicians will coordinate with Treasury.

GN 02401.912 Forwarding the Handwriting Analysis Package to the Questioned Documents Branch (QDB) for Review

Request a handwriting analysis for a check older than 12 months old only if the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee did not file a timely nonreceipt, and the missing payment is a part of an overpayment on the record.

A. Review of the Check Information and Payee Signature (CIPS) letter

Review the responses to the questions on the CIPS letter to make sure the letter is complete.

B. When to forward for handwriting analysis

Forward the letter to Treasury for handwriting analysis if the responses on the CIPS letter indicate the beneficiary, recipient, or payee did not:

  1. receive the check,

  2. endorse the check (i.e., not the beneficiary or recipient signature),

  3. cash the check,

  4. give permission for another person to cash the check,

  5. benefit from proceeds of check (not a misuse issue), or

  6. have access to the account where the check was deposited.

If the beneficiary, recipient or representative payee answers yes to any of the statements in 1 through 6 as shown in GN 02401.912B in this section and on the CIPS letter, follow instructions in subsection GN 02401.912C in this section.

C. When not to forward letter for handwriting analysis

Do not forward the CIPS package if the report of nonreceipt is timely and SSA fails to input the nonreceipt or inputs the incorrect stop code. For handling these situations, see instructions in GN 02401.902.

Do not forward the CIPS package if there is no signature on the back of the check. Treasury will not be able to analyze a signature that is not available.

NOTE: If the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee reports a nonreceipt after the check is over 12 months old, and the check is part of an overpayment, we would normally send the CIPS letter to Treasury for a handwriting analysis. However, if there is no signature on the back of the check, Treasury will not be able to analyze a signature that is not available.

Send the notice in NL 03001.025 with the explanation that Treasury cannot verify the signature on the check.

Do not reissue the payment.

D. What to forward to Treasury

Include all information Treasury needs to make the determination:

  • Check photocopy(ies);

  • CIPS letter (s) located in NL 03001.055;

  • Handwriting Analysis Request Cover Letter for Limited Payability Cases located in NL 03001.060;

  • Additional signature standards from our files for comparison (a signed SSA-795);

  • Mail the package to:

    Department of the Treasury
    Bureau of Fiscal Service
    Customer Service Branch
    Attention Questioned Document Section
    P.O. Box 51318
    Philadelphia PA 19115-6318
  • Control a reminder for return in 60 days.

E. No response received within 60 days

If Treasury does not respond within 60 days, resend the scanned package to QDB. Include “Follow-up to Request Dated MM/DD/YYYY” in red and control a reminder for return in 60 days.

F. No response to second follow-up

If there is no response to the second follow-up, take the following action:

  • PCs: Technicians refer the case to the Operations Analysis staff (OAS) for assistance;

  • FOs: The Operations Supervisor contacts the Regional Office (RO) Analyst in your region for assistance; and

  • OAS and RO Analysts: Contact QDB for assistance.

GN 02401.913 Social Security Administration Review of the Handwriting Analysis Letter (HAL) from Treasury’s Questioned Documents Branch (QDB)

A. Program Service Center (PSC) and Field Office (FO) actions upon receipt of the HAL

Treasury sends a HAL to the Social Security Administration (SSA) based on the address of the individual who initiated the request.

The QDB examiner provides one of four determinations on the HAL. When the PSC or FO receives the letter from the document analyst, process the responses following these instructions:

NOTE: The responses from QDB are in quotes and SSA’s interpretations are in parenthesis.

1. “Indications may have written” (forgery is not involved)

The QDB examiner uses this statement to inform SSA that the author of the standard writing samples appears to be the author of the endorsement on the questioned check. SSA concludes that the signatures are the same and forgery is not involved. Do not adjust the overpayment. Send the beneficiary or recipient the notice found in NL 03001.025 using choice number 3, in fill-in 4, which states Treasury found that they signed the check.

2. “Indications may not have written” (forgery is involved)

The QDB examiner uses this statement to inform SSA that the author of the standard writing samples does not appear to be the author of the endorsement on the questioned check. SSA concludes that the signature on the endorsed check is a forgery and reviews the overpayment on the record for adjustment. See the instructions in GN 02401.913B in this section.

NOTE: Apply the adjustment to the overpayment representing the check we sent for handwriting analysis. If we have already recovered the related overpayment, release the underpayment to the beneficiary or recipient.

3. “No Conclusion”

The QDB examiner uses this statement to inform SSA that QDB could not reach a definitive conclusion on the signature based on the documentation submitted along with the request.

For example, the questioned document image quality is inadequate for examination.

Do not adjust the beneficiary’s or recipient’s overpayment when QDB cannot reach a definitive conclusion on the signature. Send the beneficiary, recipient, or the representative payee a notice per NL 03001.025. Provide the explanation that Treasury cannot verify the signature on the check.

4. “Note” (QDB needs more information)

This means that the QDB examiner requires additional information before making a decision. The note will specifically outline the information needed. Upon receipt, resubmit the entire package with the requested information to the QDB examiner for a determination on the inquiry per GN 02401.912D.

B. When the HAL states “indications may not have written” (forgery involved)

1. Check(s) in question is part of a Title II overpayment

When QDB determines the check in question shows indications that the beneficiary or representative payee may not have written the endorsement, and the check remains part of an overpayment with a balance on the record, the technicians take the following actions to adjust the overpayment:

a. FO action

FOs take the following actions:

  • Send a Modernized Development Worksheet (MDW) to the PC requesting adjustment of the overpayment as described in GN 02210.006; and

  • Instruct the PC in your MDW request to send a manual notice.

b. PSC action

PSCs take the following actions:

  • Adjust the overpayment as described in GN 02210.006; and

  • Send a manual notice.

NOTE: The PSC applies the check to the overpayment representing the check we sent for handwriting analysis. If we have already recovered the related overpayment, repay the amount of the check as an underpayment to the beneficiary.

2. Check(s) in question part of a Title XVI overpayment

The FO technician adjusts the overpayment as described in SM 01311.280. Input an N-TAC for the check amount and send a manual notice.

NOTE: If we have already recovered the related overpayment, the N-TAC will cause an excess. Release the excess to the recipient.

3. Check(s) in question not part of a Title II or Title XVI overpayment

Follow the instructions in GN 02401.903F.2.a.

C. When beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee protests the “Indications may have written” QDB determination

If the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee protests the original QDB determination of “indications may have written,” the beneficiary, recipient or representative payee must contact QDB directly. If the beneficiary, recipient, or representative payee contacts SSA for assistance, process the protest per GN 02406.310F.3.


GN 02401 TN 35 - Checks - General Information - 06/18/2018