Identification Number:
GN 00502 TN 66
Intended Audience:See Transmittal Sheet
Originating Office:ORDP OISP
Title:Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee
Type:POMS Transmittals
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:
 

PROGRAM OPERATIONS MANUAL SYSTEM
Part GN – General
Chapter 005 – Selection of Representative Payee
Subchapter 02 – Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee
Transmittal No. 66, 06/24/2022

Audience

PSC: CA, CCRE, CS, ICDS, IES, ISRA, NPR, RECONR, SCPS, TSA, TST;
OCO-OEIO: BTE, CCRE, CR, CTE, FCR, PETL, RECONR;
OCO-ODO: BTE, CCE, CR, CST, CTE, CTE TE, DSE, LCC, PETE, PETL, RECONE;
FO/TSC: CS, CS TII, CS TXVI, CSR, CTE, DRT, FR, OA, OS, RR, TA, TSC-CSR;

Originating Component

OISP

Effective Date

Upon Receipt

Background

Section 202 of the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (SPSSBA) prohibits certain representative payees with a felony conviction of committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit certain crimes from serving as payee. Section 202 of the SPSSBA also requires that we conduct criminal background checks on all non-exempt current payees who do not meet one of the exceptions set out in the law.

This transmittal provides instructions on how to verify non-felony criminal history and updates the criminal non-selection reasons included in the June 25, 2022 Electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) release.

Summary of Changes

GN 00502.113 Interviewing the Payee Applicant

Subsection D -We changed the "Background Check Results" screen to "Permission for Background Check" screen.

We also added Privacy Act language for when it applies to payee interviews.

We also updated the non-selection reason from "Criminal Policy" to "Barred Crime" (1 of 12 barred crimes).

GN 00502.117 Verifying Information Provided by a Payee or Payee Applicant

Subsection A - We added language to clarify that the majority of crimes in eRPS are barred crimes or felonies.

Subsection B - We added procedure on how to verify and document a non-felony crime in eRPS.

GN 00502.132 Selection a Qualified Representative Payee

Subsection B - We updated three non-selection reasons from "Other Barred Crimes" to "Social Security Act criminal conviction (Sections 208/811/1632 and RP related fraud)

GN 00502.302 Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

Subsection A - We added the mandated completion date of the criminal work issues.

Subsection C - We updated language to include where users should verify barred crime, felony crime, and non-felony criminal information.

Subsection C - We added the number of days a criminal work issue must be processed within.

GN 00502.113 Interviewing the Payee Applicant

A. Purpose of the payee applicant interview

The representative payee (payee) applicant interview is the first opportunity the field office (FO) has to assess the individual or organization’s suitability to serve as payee. Use the interview to determine the applicant's qualifications and reason for filing to be payee and to assess the applicant’s ability to carry out the payee’s responsibilities. For individual payee applicants, gather, document, and address information about the nature of any:

  • self-reported criminal convictions;

  • criminal history found on the Background Check Results screen in the Electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS);

  • fugitive felony history or periods of incarceration recorded on the Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) record;

  • beginning and ending dates of confinement; and

  • type of crime (e.g., robbery, forgery), conviction status, and any pending civil or criminal charges.

During the payee interview, you must explain and ensure the organizational or individual payee applicant understands the payee’s responsibilities and duties described in GN 00502.114. You must also use the initial interview to explain to the payee applicant that, in completing the application, they:

  • agree to receive benefits on behalf of the beneficiary and use or conserve them in the beneficiary's best interest;

  • understand the payee’s duties and the liability of non-compliance with reporting requirements;

  • are willing to carry out the responsibilities of a payee;

  • understand the liability for any overpayment for which the payee may be at fault; and

  • understand serving as a payee is voluntary and they may not charge a fee for providing payee services except as provided in GN 00506.001.

Refer all applicants to our website at “When People Need Help Managing Their Money” (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/) for more information on a payee’s duties and responsibilities. You may also provide individual payee applicants with a copy of the pamphlet, Pub. No. 05-10076 (A Guide for Representative Payees) at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10076.pdf. If the applicant is an organization, refer them to the “Guide for Organizational Payees” at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee/NewGuide/toc.htm.

NOTE: If the individual or organizational payee applicant has any form of creditor relationship with the beneficiary, pay close attention to the creditor relationship during the interview so that you are able to make a sound selection determination. Refer to information on when the payee applicant is a creditor of the beneficiary in GN 00502.135.

B. Policy for interviewing payee applicants

Interview each payee applicant, including parents with custody who are completing an application for Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income for a child, in a face-to-face setting unless:

  • doing so would cause undue hardship;

  • the payee applicant previously had a face-to-face interview and is currently serving as a payee and is qualified to do so; or

  • the application is being processed in a centralized processing unit and the applicant is a parent with custody of the beneficiary who is their minor child or a spouse with custody of the beneficiary who is their spouse.

IMPORTANT: If the applicant meets one of the above exceptions to a face-to-face interview, you must conduct a telephone or Video Service Delivery interview.

Do not select an individual or organization that applies to serve as a payee on behalf of another individual or organization. You must conduct the payee application interview with the individual or organization that intends to serve as payee. For example, if a third-party organization comes into the FO to apply on behalf of the State foster care agency, you must non-select the application if the intended payee is the State foster care agency. For information on taking applications from foster care agencies, see GN 00502.159.

NOTE: Faxed, mailed, or dropped-off Form SSA-11-BKs (Request to be Selected as Payee) are items that require FO action. You must follow up with a face-to-face interview unless they meet one of the exceptions above.

1. What is undue hardship?

Decide undue hardship on a case-by-case basis. Common examples of undue hardship include:

  • an applicant lives too far from the FO, and a field visit is not possible;

  • work prevents the applicant from visiting the FO during regular business hours; or

  • an applicant comes into the local FO, but due to workload in the FO that day, the applicant would have an unacceptably long wait for a face-to-face interview.

2. When is a subsequent face-to-face interview required?

You always have the discretion to require a subsequent face-to-face interview whenever you determine such an interview is necessary to protect the beneficiary’s interests (e.g., there is a question about the payee’s past performance or compliance with reporting requirements).

You must conduct a face-to-face interview if the:

  • payee applicant has a history of misuse or has been convicted of any crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4., or

  • the applicant is residing in the United States but does not have a Social Security number (SSN). For information on verifying the SSN, see GN 00502.117A.1.

NOTE: Any payee applicant, who previously satisfied the face-to-face interview requirement during a prior payee application, does not need to appear for another face-to-face interview if the applicant does not meet any of the limitations above.

3. When can I conduct a telephone interview?

Conduct a telephone interview for an individual payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required or an undue hardship exists and if you can verify the applicant’s identity over the phone by confirming information on their NUMIDENT. For information on exceptions to the face-to-face interview, see GN 00502.113B.

Use the process on establishing identity outlined in GN 00203.020A.2. Read the following Privacy Act statement to the applicant:

Sections 205(a), 205(j), and 1631(a) of the Social Security Act allow us to collect your information, which we will use to determine your eligibility to serve as a representative payee. Providing this information is voluntary, but not providing the information may prevent us from assisting you. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to employers, our contractors, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notice 60-0089, 60-0222, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs.

In the eRPS, enter “by phone” on the SSA-11 Application-Introduction screen (MS 07409.002) and “ID verified via NUMI” in the Type of Applicant ID field on the Proof of Applicant's Identity screen (MS 07409.011) in the application path.

For an organizational payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required, conduct a telephone interview if you can verify the applicant’s identity over the phone:

  • Ask the employee of the organization for their name and job title.

  • Ask the employee who will be managing the funds.

  • Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen (MS 07415.002) to document this information in eRPS;

  • Verify the name of the organization;

  • Verify the organization’s address; and

  • Verify the organization’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).

4. When can I conduct an interview by Video Service Delivery (VSD)?

For an individual payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required or an undue hardship exists, you may conduct an interview via VSD if you can verify the applicant’s identity by confirming information on their NUMIDENT.

Use the process on establishing identity outlined in GN 00203.020A.2. Read the following Privacy Act statement to the applicant:

Sections 205(a), 205(j), and 1631(a) of the Social Security Act allow us to collect your information, which we will use to determine your eligibility to serve as a representative payee. Providing this information is voluntary, but not providing the information may prevent us from assisting you. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to employers, our contractors, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notice 60-0089, 60-0222, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs.

Enter “By video” on the SSA-11 Application-Introduction screen (MS 07409.002), “ID verified via NUMI” in the Type of Applicant ID field on the Proof of Applicant's Identity screen (MS 07409.011) in the eRPS application path.

For an organizational payee applicant, if a face-to-face interview is not required, conduct a VSD interview if you can verify the applicant’s identity:

  • Ask the employee of the organization for their name and job title. Document this information on the Make Note screen in eRPS;

  • Verify the name of the organization;

  • Verify the organization’s address; and

  • Verify the organization’s EIN, see GN 00502.118.

Read the following Privacy Act statement to the applicant:

Sections 205(a), 205(j), and 1631(a) of the Social Security Act allow us to collect your information, which we will use to determine your eligibility to serve as a representative payee. Providing this information is voluntary, but not providing the information may prevent us from assisting you. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to employers, our contractors, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notice 60-0089, 60-0222, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs.

C. Procedure prior to interviewing individual payee applicants

Before interviewing an individual payee applicant, use available SSA queries (e.g., NUMI, SEQY, MBR, SSR) to gather information about the payee applicant that you will need to make your determination. Review eRPS, the PUPS and Fugitive Felon records to determine if the applicant has a history of imprisonment or a fugitive felon history. Do not perform the criminal background check before the Permission for the Background Check screen (MS 07409.014).

NOTE: If the payee applicant has a representative payee, do not collect additional information and process the application to non-select him or her as a representative payee. There are no exceptions.

D. Procedure for interviewing payee applicants

Before you begin your interview, it is important to remember that all legally competent adult beneficiaries are presumed capable of managing or directing the management of benefits, unless there is evidence to the contrary. On the SSA-11 Application-Introduction screen (MS 07409.002), there is a reminder to consider lay evidence gathered in the face-to-face interview before determining an adult is incapable. For more information about lay evidence, see GN 00502.030.

NOTE : You should observe the beneficiary's behavior, reasoning ability, interaction with others, and how effectively they pursue the claim.

Before you discuss the application you must:

  1. 1. 

    Verify the identity of the person or organizational payee applicant following instructions in GN 00502.117 and for telephone or VSD interviews, use the process outlined in GN 00203.020A.2.

  2. 2. 

    If conducting a face-to-face interview, provide a copy of the Privacy Act statement from the SG-SSA-11 for the applicant to read.

    If conducting a phone or VSD interview, read the following Privacy Act statement to the applicant:

    Sections 205(a), 205(j), and 1631(a) of the Social Security Act allow us to collect your information, which we will use to determine your eligibility to serve as a representative payee. Providing this information is voluntary, but not providing the information may prevent us from assisting you. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to employers, our contractors, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notice 60-0089, 60-0222, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs; and

  3. 3. 

    Process the application following established procedures in the eRPS. For more information on processing applications in the eRPS, see GN 00502.110.

1. Payee applicant does not self-disclose a barred crime or have a PUPS or Fugitive Felon record

If the applicant does not self-disclose a barred crime or have a PUPS or Fugitive Felon record, ask them for permission to conduct a criminal background check when you are on the Permission for Background Check screen (MS 07409.014) in eRPS.

Do not conduct a criminal background check or ask for permission to conduct a background check for the following representative payee applicants:

  • Custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial grandparent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial parent of an adult beneficiary who has a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial court-appointed guardian of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve; or

  • A parent who was previously payee for their minor child and the child turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits.

NOTE: If the payee applicant self-discloses, or we find out through our systems (eRPS or fugitive felon), that the payee applicant was convicted of any of the 12 felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4 do not conduct a criminal background check. If the applicant self-discloses a felony that is not a barred crime, you must still run a background check. PUPS information is important for knowing how long the applicant was confined, but it does not give the specific crime committed.

If the payee applicant gives permission to conduct a criminal background check, take the following actions:

  1. 1. 

    Use eRPS, following the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3, to obtain criminal background information.

  2. 2. 

    After conducting the criminal background check through the eRPS:

    • If the individual does not have a criminal history, use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen on the Make Note screen (MS 07415.002) to document there is no criminal history.

    • If the individual does have a criminal history, follow the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3 in this section.

For more information on processing applications in the eRPS, see GN 00502.110.

If a payee applicant refuses to give permission to conduct a criminal background check, we are unable to determine if we would bar him or her from serving as payee; therefore, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. 1. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document that the "applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check";

  2. 2. 

    Process the application in eRPS; and

  3. 3. 

    Use “Other” as the non-select reason and document “applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check”.

If the applicant leaves before attesting to the application, take the following actions in the order below:

  • Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document the circumstances of the interview and your findings regarding criminal history; and

  • Use “Incomplete” as the non-select reason.

2. Payee applicant has a PUPS or fugitive felon record

If the applicant has a PUPS record on the Prisoner Information screen (MS 07410.004) or fugitive felon record on the Fugitive felon information screen (MS 07410.003) in the eRPS:

  1. a. 

    You must discuss and document the PUPS/Fugitive Felon information with the payee applicant; and

  2. b. 

    Explain to the applicant that our records indicate they were incarcerated on (fill in the date), or that we have information showing they have an unsatisfied felony warrant.

Below is a list of sample questions that may help elicit additional information about any criminal history necessary to make a sound suitability determination:

  • What crime were you convicted of?

  • Was anyone injured because of the offense?

  • What was your sentence?

  • Did you serve any jail time?

  • Were you released from prison early due to “good behavior?”

  • Were you placed on probation or parole?

  • Were you ordered to pay restitution to anyone because of the offense?

  • Have you been arrested since this conviction? If so, when was the arrest and what was it for?

  • Has your current case been resolved? If not, are you awaiting a trial date?

If a payee applicant refuses to answer questions regarding their PUPS or fugitive felon history, we are unable to determine if we would bar him or her from serving as payee; therefore, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. 1. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document that the “applicant refuses to respond to questions about their criminal history”;

  2. 2. 

    Process the application and non-select the applicant in eRPS;

  3. 3. 

    Use “Other” as the non-select reason and document “applicant refuses to discuss criminal history.”

If a payee applicant denies ever being incarcerated, follow the instructions outlined in GN 02607.710D for applicants who receive T2 or T16 benefits and have a PUPS record.

If an applicant is not receiving T2 or T16 benefits, follow the instructions in GN 02607.890C for deletion of a PUPS skeleton record (GN 02607.520).

After discussing the PUPS or Fugitive Felon information with the payee applicant, answer the Permission for Background check question in eRPS (For more information on the Permission for Background Check screen, see MS 07409.014.

If the payee applicant gives permission to conduct a criminal background check take the following actions:

  1. 1. 

    Use eRPS to obtain criminal background information following the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3 in this section; and

  2. 2. 

    After conducting the criminal background check through eRPS:

    • If the individual does not have a criminal history, document this information on the Make Note screen in eRPS.

    • If the individual does have a criminal history, follow the procedures in GN 00502.113D.3 in this section.

If a payee applicant refuses to give permission to conduct a criminal background check, we are unable to determine if we would bar them from serving as payee; therefore, take the following actions in the order below:

  1. 1. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document that the “applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check”;

  2. 2. 

    Process the application and non-select the applicant; and

  3. 3. 

    Use “Other” as the non-select reason and document “applicant did not give permission to conduct a criminal background check".

If the applicant leaves before attesting to the application, take the following actions in the order below:

  • Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document the circumstances of the interview and your findings regarding criminal history; and

  • Use “Incomplete” as the non-select reason.

3. Conducting a criminal background check through eRPS

Do not conduct a criminal background check on a payee applicant if the applicant self-discloses a barred crime, or we find out through our systems (eRPS or fugitive felon) that the payee applicant was convicted of:

  • one of the 12 felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4; or

  • attempt or conspiracy in connection with one of the 12 felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4.

Do not conduct a criminal background check on the following payee applicants:

  • Custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial parent of an adult beneficiary who has a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial grandparent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • Custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve; or

  • A parent who was previously payee for their minor child, who has since turned age 18, and continues to be eligible for benefits.

To conduct a background check on for all other individual payee applicants take the following actions in the order below:

  1. 1. 

    Ask the payee applicant the permission to conduct a criminal background check question on the Permission for Background Check screen in eRPS;

  2. 2. 

    Select the Background Check tab on the Permission for Background Check screen;

  3. 3. 

    Discuss and verify the criminal information on the Background Check Results screen with the payee applicant. Use the eRPS User Guide to locate the felony information on the Background Check Results screen;

  4. 4. 

    Follow the policy in GN 00502.132A.2 to select a qualified payee when the applicant has past criminal history;

  5. 5. 

    If the applicant was convicted of any of the twelve crimes, as described in GN 00502.133A.4, take the following steps to “non-select” the payee applicant in the order below:

    a. Complete the payee application process (taking the application, printing the application and, having the applicant attest);

    b. Non-select the applicant on the Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen;

    c. Select “Barred Crime (1 of 12 barred crimes)" as the non-selection reason; and

    d. Document the applicant’s criminal history on the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen.

The questions outlined in GN 00502.113D.2 in this section may help elicit additional information from the applicant.

If you need further documentation about the applicant’s criminal history, follow instructions in GN 00502.117B.3.

If the applicant has a criminal history based on the information obtained from the Background Check Results screen, and you are unsure whether the crime is a barred crime, you must review the barred crimes state digest in GN 00502.301. This digest breaks down the barred crimes based on the state or territory where the crime was committed.

If the Background Check Results screen indicates an applicant was arrested for a crime, but the applicant does not provide any conviction information, you must ask if they have been convicted of the crime:

  • If the applicant says “yes,” use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document the applicant’s answers about their conviction;

  • If the applicant says “no,” follow procedures in GN 00502.117B.3.a. to verify the status of the arrest and any conviction;

  • If you need additional time to analyze the criminal background information before you discuss the information with the applicant, continue with the payee application and inform the applicant that you will contact them later to discuss the results of the criminal information from the Background Check Results screen.

NOTE: If the applicant indicates the arrest information is erroneous, follow the procedures in GN 00502.117B.3.c.

4. Explain the use of benefits

a. Proper use of benefits

You must explain to the payee applicant that benefits are for the beneficiary's current needs for:

  • food,

  • clothing,

  • shelter,

  • medical needs,

  • personal comfort items, and

  • reasonably foreseeable needs.

The payee must conserve or invest funds on behalf of the beneficiary that they do not use for these purposes. If the applicant has questions about using benefits or conserving funds, they should contact the FO or call SSA through the national 800 number.

NOTE: Inform the applicant that SSA considers conserved funds a resource and may affect SSI eligibility in Title XVI cases.

b. Record keeping for money received

Explain to the payee applicant that a payee must:

  • keep a detailed record (e.g., receipts, checking and savings accounts, canceled checks, bills) of the money received and how they spend the money; and

  • complete an accounting report annually, which we will mail to the payee.

Once the payee registers, they may complete the annual accounting report on our website at “Internet Representative Payee Accounting Report” (http://www.ssa.gov/payee/form/index.htm). The website at “When People Need Help Managing Their Money” (http://www.socialsecurity.gov/payee) has useful information to help a payee keep track of benefits and expenses.

5. Direct deposit and direct express

You must explain to the payee applicant that:

  • representative payees must receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income payments via direct deposit or direct express card. For exceptions to direct deposit, see GN 02402.001. For more information on direct deposit for title II and title XVI, see GN 02402.002.

  • benefits deposited directly into a bank account must reflect the beneficiary’s ownership of the funds and the payee’s fiduciary relationship. For more information on direct deposit for representative payee cases, see GN 02402.055.

NOTE: The preferred account title for someone who is the payee is (Name of Beneficiary) by (Name of Payee), Representative Payee. For other examples, see the information on conserving benefits in a savings or checking account in GN 00603.010. For information on foreign savings accounts legends, see GN 00603.015. For additional information see, Account titles GN 02402.050 and Direct Deposit for Representative Payee Cases GN 02402.055

E. Documenting a face-to-face, telephone, or VSD interview

1. Face-to-face interview

Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document the following information (MS 07415.002):

  • the date of the interview;

  • your judgments about the payee applicant’s qualifications and suitability (GN 00502.185);

  • a statement that you explained the payee’s responsibilities; and

  • a statement that you explained the proper use of benefits.

2. Telephone interview or VSD interview

Use the Rep Payee Applicant "Note Type" on the Make Note screen to document the following information (MS 07415.002):

  • why a telephone or VSD interview was conducted (i.e., circumstances of the undue hardship or how the interview met the criteria of the other exceptions listed in GN 00502.113B in this section);

  • the date of the interview;

  • your judgments about the payee applicant’s qualifications and suitability (GN 00502.185);

  • a statement that you explained the payee’s responsibilities; and

  • a statement that you explained the proper use of benefits.

NOTE: If no eRPS record has been established (e.g., a case where the applicant is an undocumented alien parent payee without an SSN), document a Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact). Scan the SSA-5002 into the Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Document (NDRED).

F. References

 

GN 00502.117 Verifying Information Provided by a Payee or Payee Applicant

A. Policy for verifying information a payee or payee applicant provides

We are legally required to verify the identity and Social Security Number (SSN) information (or employer identification number, (EIN) of a representative payee (payee) applicant. Verifying additional information provided by the applicant (e.g., income, custody, and criminal history) helps technicians determine a payee's or payee applicant's suitability.

1. Verifying SSNs and EINs

a. Payees residing in the U.S.

A payee applicant who resides in the U.S. must have a verifiable SSN before serving as a payee. Issue an SSN to any payee applicant who is entitled to have an SSN. If the payee applicant is not entitled to receive an SSN, develop and consider an alternative payee applicant.

EXCEPTION: If the payee applicant is a parent filing to be payee for their minor child and we cannot issue an SSN, appoint the parent as payee if they are suitable, and manually process the case. For information on processing manual payee selections, see GN 00502.190.

You must verify an organizational payee applicant’s EIN. For instructions on how to verify an organizational payee applicant’s EIN, see GN 00502.118.

b. Payees residing outside the U.S.

A payee who resides outside the U.S. may not have an SSN. Since we only issue SSNs to foreign nationals residing outside the U.S. in specific situations, we cannot require others to have an SSN as a condition of payee appointment. Therefore, the procedures for verifying SSNs do not apply to payee applicants living in foreign countries who cannot have an SSN. For information on processing manual payee selections, see GN 00502.190.

2. Verifying identity

You must verify an individual payee or payee applicant's identity in all cases. For additional policy instructions refer to GN 00502.117B.2.

3. Verifying criminal history

You must develop if:

  • our systems queries contain criminal history information,

  • a criminal background check indicates past criminal history or

  • an individual voluntarily provides past criminal history during the representative payee application.

NOTE: Most crimes received in the electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) from a criminal background check are either felonies or barred crimes, see GN 00502.133A. Before marking a crime as non-felony in eRPS, you must follow the procedures in GN 00502.117B.3. You cannot take the payee's or payee applicant's word that the crime listed from the criminal background check is not a felony without following the proper verification procedures.

You must weigh information about the payee's or payee applicant's criminal history, (i.e., the nature of the crime and when the crime occurred), along with the relationship to and custody of the beneficiary when making a determination involving a payee or payee applicant. We bar individuals convicted of certain crimes from serving as payees. See the policy for barring individuals convicted of crimes from serving as payees in GN 00502.133A.

4. Verifying income

The source of a payee applicant's income may be a factor in determining how likely the applicant is to use the benefits in the beneficiary's best interests. An applicant who does not have a reliable source of income may be more likely to divert the beneficiary's funds for the payee applicant's own use. In addition, failure to provide verifiable information about income may be a strong indicator that the payee applicant has failed to provide correct information about other factors that affect payee suitability.

5. Verifying custody

You must verify custody when the payee applicant is a parent alleging custody of the minor child for whom they are filing and the other parent does not live in the same household. In all other cases, FOs may use discretion as to the need to verify custody. To verify custody, follow instructions in GN 00502.117B.5.

B. Procedure for verifying information a payee or payee applicant provides

1. Verifying payee applicant's SSN and EIN

Verify an individual applicant's SSN before you appoint the individual as payee.

Obtain the EIN for an organizational payee applicant and verify against the Employment Identification File (EIF) when initially establishing an organizational payee in electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) by following the instructions in GN 00502.118.

a. Application processed through the eRPS

When processing an application through eRPS, verifying the SSN is part of the application process. eRPS accesses the NUMIDENT/ICD and displays the payee applicant's name and date of birth. Ask the applicant for that information and compare it to the data displayed to verify ownership of the SSN. If the information matches, no further verification is needed.

b. Application processed outside eRPS

When the payee applicant does not have an SSN, we manually process a payee application for a parent filing to be payee for their minor child. These are the only cases processed outside of eRPS. For information on manual payee actions, see GN 00502.190.

c. SSN not verified because there is a death indicator on NUMIDENT

If the payee applicant's NUMIDENT has a death indicator, eRPS cannot verify the SSN. If there is a death indicator, follow the instructions in GN 00304.100.

2. Verifying payee applicant’s identity

a. Individual payee applicant

During an in-person interview, ask the individual payee applicant to furnish documents to verify their identity.

NOTE: Examples of acceptable evidence of identity include a valid driver's license, state issued I.D. card, U.S. passport, or government issued I.D. The evidence of identity must be unexpired.

Document a description of the evidence presented on the Proof of Applicant's Identity screen in the eRPS (MS 07409.011).

During a telephone interview, verify the payee applicant's identity consistent with the claimant identity process outlined in GN 00203.020A.2.b.

EXCEPTION: Do not ask for verification of identity if during this interview session the applicant proved identity in conjunction with a claim for benefits.

b. Organizational payee applicant

Ask the employee of an organizational payee to provide the following information to verify identity:

  • their name and job title;

  • the name of the organization;

  • the organization’s address; and

  • the organization’s EIN (Employer Identification Number).

Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document the employee’s name and job title in eRPS.

3. Verifying criminal history

A payee or payee applicant's past criminal record is important to the suitability determination and requires verification before making your selection or retain payee determination. To perform a criminal background check through eRPS, see GN 00502.113D.3.

Review the criminal information on the Criminal Background Check Results screen in eRPS and discuss with the payee or payee applicant. To process the VRFCRM work issue, see GN 00502.302.

Most crimes received in eRPS are either felonies or barred crimes. To verify a non-felony, you must select one of the four dropdown options on the Criminal History Verification screen (MS 07410.008):

  • Court Document/Prison Release Papers;

  • Regional Chief Counsel Opinion;

  • Erroneous Criminal Information; or

  • Misdemeanor in the Offense Type Field (see field on the Criminal Background Check Results screen)

After selecting the appropriate dropdown option, you must document the information requested in the text box.

If a payee or payee applicant indicates they were convicted of any of the crimes listed in GN 00502.133A, there is no reason to request further documentation. The payee's or payee applicant's allegation of a conviction for one of these crimes is the only verification needed.

a. Requesting court documents or prison release papers

If you determine the criminal information is incomplete and it affects your determination:

  1. 1. 

    Inform the payee or payee applicant that they need to provide the appropriate court documents that reflect the information you need.

    1. a. 

      If the Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) record does not reflect a release date, the payee or payee applicant must provide release papers.

    2. b. 

      If you need to determine the type of conviction or type of crime, the payee or payee applicant must produce documentation that provides this information.

  2. 2. 

    Control for the return of the court documents or prison release papers using the VRFCRM work issue for the payee or payee applicant and follow up with them via telephone or mail as necessary. For instructions on how to process the VRFCRM work issue, see GN 00502.302.

    1. a. 

      If, after 15 days, the payee or payee applicant has not contacted you or submitted the court documents or prison release papers, begin developing for another payee or consider direct payment.

    2. b. 

      If, after 30 days, from the initial request for information, the payee applicant has not contacted you or submitted the court documents or release papers, “non-select” the payee applicant and use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document the reasons why you did not select the payee applicant. If you cannot verify the criminal history for a payee who is currently serving after 30 days, use the following steps:

      • Complete the Payee Retention Decision – Criminal History screen (MS 07410.009).

      • Answer "Yes" to the "Is a change of payee needed?" question.

      • Document the reasons why you removed the payee on the Make Note screen under the Representative Payee Details Page in eRPS.

      • Process a payee application and appoint a new suitable payee or consider direct payment, if applicable.

  3. 3. 

    When the payee or payee applicant submits the court documents or prison release papers:

    1. a. 

      Review the information carefully; and

    2. b. 

      Follow up with the payee or payee applicant to clarify previous answers, if necessary.

    3. c. 

      Review the barred crimes state digest in GN 00502.301. This digest breaks down the barred crimes discussed in GN 00502.133A.4 based on the state or territory where they committed the crime.

  4. 4. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant or Rep Payee “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document the payee's or payee applicant’s criminal history information or prison release information if it is relevant to the suitability determination, including the following:

    • criminal history information:

      • name of the court;

      • state and county of the court's location;

      • court case number;

      • conviction, including whether the conviction is a felony or a misdemeanor; and

      • sentence.

    • prison release information:

      • prison confinement date; and

      • prison release date.

If the payee or payee applicant reports difficulty obtaining the court documents or release papers, you can assist them by contacting the prison or correctional institution. For additional guidance on obtaining court documents or prisoner information, see the list of third-party sources to use to locate missing inmate information in GN 02607.680. For information on when and what information can be disclosed to the prison or correctional facility, see GN 03301.005 and GN 03316.065.

If the court or prison is in another state or region, you can assist the payee or payee applicant by sending an SSA-562 (Request for Assistance) to the local servicing field office of the court or prison. For information on requesting help from other field offices, see GN 00301.205.

NOTE: If the payee or payee applicant is currently serving as payee for other beneficiaries, follow current policy instructions on questionable payee choices in GN 00502.132A.2. and the payee preference list in GN 00502.105. A history of criminal behavior by the payee or payee applicant may be an indicator that they are not suitable to serve as a payee.

b. Requesting an opinion regarding the payee's or payee applicant’s criminal history

If, after reviewing the barred crimes state digest in GN 00502.301, you are unsure whether you should bar the individual from serving as a payee and you received court documents from the payee or payee applicant, contact the regional office (RO) and send the court documents to your RO contact.

The RO should take the following actions:

  1. 1. 

    Contact your appropriate Office of General Counsel contacts and send the court documents along with a request for an opinion asking whether the payee's or payee applicant's criminal history would bar them from serving as payee based on the policy in GN 00502.133A.4.

  2. 2. 

    Forward the opinion from the appropriate Office of General Counsel contacts to the local FO.

c. Handling erroneous criminal information received from eRPS

If the payee or payee applicant indicates there is an error when you discover a crime while performing a criminal background check in eRPS, use the following steps in the order below to determine if you need to verify the payee's or payee applicant’s allegation:

  1. 1. 

    Compare the payee's or payee applicant’s identifying information with the identifying information received from eRPS;

  2. 2. 

    Ask the payee or payee applicant if they ever lived in the state where the crime was committed;

  3. 3. 

    If the identifying information is discrepant and the payee or payee applicant denies ever living in or traveling to the state where the crime was committed, use the Rep Payee Applicant or Rep Payee “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document the information; and

  4. 4. 

    After documenting the Make Note screen, continue processing the payee application or retain payee determination. It is not necessary to request further documentation from the payee or payee applicant.

If the identifying information is correct or the payee or payee applicant lived in the state where the crime was committed, request further documentation from the payee or payee applicant:

  • Copy and paste the relevant criminal information from the Criminal Background Check Results screen in eRPS into a Word document and provide the payee or payee applicant with a printed copy of the criminal information; and

  • Request court documentation from the payee or payee applicant and follow the steps in GN 00502.117B.3.a in this section.

4. Verify source of income

a. Verify employment/self-employment

To verify employment/self-employment:

  • Request a Details Earnings Query (DEQY) or other valid employment documentation to verify the payee applicant's employment allegation.

  • Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen in eRPS with the results of your employment verification.

Employment allegations are collected on the Applicant Income screen (MS 07409.013) in eRPS or question 15 on the SSA-11-BK.

NOTE: Failure to provide correct information about employment is a good indicator that the payee applicant may have provided other incorrect information and may not be a suitable payee.

b. Verify receipt of benefits for applications taken in eRPS

To verify receipt of benefits for applications taken in eRPS:

  • Use screening queries to verify the payee applicant's allegations; or

  • obtain an FACT/SSID query.

EXCEPTION: You do not need to verify source(s) of income for the payee applicants who complete abbreviated SSA-11-BKs, see GN 00502.107B.2.

c. Do not request information from non-SSA Sources

Do not request information from the following non-SSA sources:

  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits;

  • Worker’s Compensation (WC) payments).

5. Verify custody

You may use discretion as to the need to verify custody. However, when the payee applicant is a parent who alleges custody of a minor child and they allege the other parent does not live in the same household, you should request a copy of a court order establishing a custody arrangement from the payee applicant. If a court order is not available, you must contact a third party (such as a school official, day care provider, or doctor’s office) to verify custody. Use the Rep Payee/Bene Relationship “Note Type” on the Make Note screen in eRPS (MS 07415.002) to document custody verification.

EXAMPLE: Make Note screen documentation: 11/05/12 Mr. John Doe at Elm Elementary School, Baltimore, MD, verified Mrs. Mary Jones has custody of Ann Jones.

C. References

  • MS 05203.002 Numident Query Sensitive Information (NUMI)

  • MS 05203.005 Detail Earnings Query (DEQY)

  • MS 07410.007 Criminal Background Check Results screen

  • MS 07410.008 Criminal History Verification screen

  • MS 07410.009 Payee Retention Decision – Criminal History screen

  • GN 02607.680 Third Party Sources To Use to Locate Missing Inmate Information

  • GN 03301.005 Basic Disclosure Policy

  • GN 03316.065 Disclosure Without Consent to General Third Party Contacts to Assist in Administering Social Security Administration Programs

  • GN 00502.118 Verifying and Updating EINs for Organizational Payees

  • GN 00502.302 Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

  • GN 00203.020 Identity of Claimants

  • GN 00304.100 Use of Numident Death Data

 

GN 00502.132 Selecting a Qualified Representative Payee

A. Policy for selection of a representative payee (payee)

Before you select a payee for a competent adult beneficiary, you must make a capability determination following the instructions in GN 00502.020.

Deciding whether an applicant will make a good representative payee is an extremely important decision. Make the determination to select a payee after you determine a beneficiary is incapable. For information on determining capability, see GN 00502.001. Your determination may greatly affect a beneficiary’s quality of life. You must weigh all available information including:

  • answers to questions collected from the payee application;

  • the applicant’s relationship to the beneficiary;

  • whether the applicant has custody of the beneficiary;

  • all known information about the applicant’s past payee performance (if any); and

  • criminal history.

1. Persons barred from serving as payee

We prohibit some individuals from serving as payees and we may never appoint them as payee under any circumstances. For information on applicants we bar from ever serving as payee, see GN 00502.133.

If the applicant is barred from ever serving as payee, use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen (MS 07415.002) to document this information in the electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) using the procedures in GN 00502.132B.2. in this section.

2. Individuals considered questionable payee choices

Some individuals are questionable payee choices, and you must not appoint them (or allow them to continue) as payee unless:

  • direct payment is prohibited, see GN 00502.001;

  • there is no suitable alternative prospective payee, for information on how to find payee leads see GN 00502.100; and

  • you determine the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary.

Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document your suitability determination in eRPS using the procedures in GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

Questionable payee choices include:

  • convicted felons (for crimes other than those listed in GN 00502.133);

  • applicants with a prior history of misuse;

  • applicants with a pending misuse allegation;

  • applicants who are non-responders for another beneficiary;

  • applicants imprisoned for more than 1 year; and

  • creditors of the beneficiary. For more information on a payee applicant that is a creditor, see GN 00502.135.

You must document your payee selection or non-selection determination using the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen in eRPS.

3. People with unsatisfied felony warrants (Martinez v. Astrue Class Action Settlement)

We may consider an applicant's suitability to serve as a representative payee if the individual has an unsatisfied felony warrant. If the applicant’s offense code is 4901, 4902, or 4999, do not select that individual to be a payee. There are no exceptions to this prohibition. For information on individuals considered fugitive felons, see GN 00502.133A.2. 

B. Procedure for processing and documenting eRPS alert messages

1. Reasons for storing information in eRPS

eRPS is an investigative tool to help you make appropriate payee appointments. eRPS displays alerts (MS 07401.003 Alert Messages) to historical negative events or other situations that need careful review prior to making the appointment determination. You must carefully review this screen for the presence of such remarks and thoroughly consider the information it provides prior to making the appointment determination. In addition, the payee application asks the applicant specific questions about certain types of criminal behavior. Information about how a person has previously performed payee duties is critical; therefore, it is important to record information about the payee’s performance, particularly occurrences of misuse, in eRPS so it is available for future consideration.

2. Documenting criminal alerts in eRPS alerts

For every criminal alert, you must fully document your payee selection or non-selection using the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen in eRPS. You must develop and document all criminal information you find relevant to suitability, such as:

  • the nature of the crime;

  • when the crime occurred; and

  • the sentence the applicant received.

You must document the applicant’s relationship to the beneficiary and custody information when making your determination.

NOTE: We bar a payee applicant convicted of certain crimes from serving as a payee, refer to GN 00502.133.

3. eRPS alerts and Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen edit remarks defined

The alerts listed below in this section display in the Alert Messages feature during the application path and again when you attempt to select the applicant on the Rep Payee Selection-Decision Screen (MS 07412.002).

When you receive one of the alerts listed below in this section you must:

  • Non-Select the Applicant using the Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen.

  • Select the appropriate Non-Select Reason (MS 07412.003).

  • Check “Send non-select notice to applicant” so eRPS sends the appropriate non-select notice automatically.

  • Look for a new payee applicant and consider direct payment, if appropriate.

a. RP convicted under Sec 208/811/1632

The “RP convicted under Sec 208/811/1632” alert means the person was convicted of Social Security fraud under one or more of these statutes. The law prohibits anyone convicted under these provisions from ever serving as a payee. There are no exceptions. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) provides SSA Central Office (CO) staff with a list of individuals convicted under 208/811/1632 of the Social Security Act, and SSA Regional Office (RO) staff then input the list into eRPS. eRPS alerts you when an applicant has this type of conviction posted in eRPS and does not permit that applicant to be selected as payee.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “History of Social Security fraud (Sections 208/811/1632)”. The non-select reason for this alert is “Social Security Act criminal conviction (Sections 208/811/1632, section 1136, and RP related fraud)”.

b. RP has committed RP related fraud

The “RP has committed RP related fraud” alert means the person was convicted of fraud directly related to their payee duties (misuse, conversion of benefits, etc.). However, they were convicted under statutes other than sections 208, 811, or 1632 of the Social Security Act. The OIG provides CO staff with a list of these convictions. CO staff sends the list to the RO staff. The RO staff inputs the information into eRPS. This alert appears when you access eRPS to make a query or take an application. We bar an individual with this alert from serving as a representative payee. Do not appoint a payee applicant who has committed payee related fraud. There are no exceptions to this rule. For more information refer to, GN 00502.133A.3 and GN 00502.133B.3.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “History payment fraud”. The non-select reason for this alert is “Social Security Act criminal conviction (Sections 208/811/1632, section 1136, and RP related fraud)”.

c. Representative/Health Care provider convicted under Sec. 1136

The “Representative/Health Care provider convicted under Section 1136” alert means the applicant is barred from serving as payee under Section 1136 of the Social Security Act. A representative or a health care provider convicted of any violation under Title XVIII of the United States Code may not participate in Social Security programs and therefore may not serve as a payee. The violations relate to the following:

  • Initial application for benefits;

  • Continuing entitlement to benefits;

  • Amount of benefits under Title II or Title XVI; and

  • An individual assessed with a Civil Monetary Penalty under section 1129 (a) (1) of the Act.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “History of Social Security Fraud (Section 1136)”. The non-select reason for this alert is “Sections 208/811/1632, section 1136, and RP related fraud”.

d. RP convicted of Barred Crime

The “RP convicted of Barred Crime” alert means the individual was convicted of one of the twelve felony crimes that bar an individual for serving as payee. Barred crimes only apply to individual payees, not organizations. See a list of the 12 barred felony crimes below:

  1. 1. 

    Human Trafficking

  2. 2. 

    False Imprisonment

  3. 3. 

    Kidnapping

  4. 4. 

    Rape and Sexual Assault

  5. 5. 

    First-Degree Homicide

  6. 6. 

    Robbery

  7. 7. 

    Fraud to obtain access to government assistance

  8. 8. 

    Fraud by scheme

  9. 9. 

    Theft of Government Funds/Property

  10. 10. 

    Abuse or Neglect

  11. 11. 

    Forgery

  12. 12. 

    Identity Theft or Identity Fraud

IMPORTANT: If an applicant self-discloses a felony that is not a barred crime, you must still ask for permission and run a criminal background check through eRPS.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Barred Felon.” The non-select reason for this alert is “Barred Crime (1 of 12 barred crimes)”.

e. RP has a RP

The “RP has a RP” alert means the payee is a beneficiary or recipient with a representative payee. When this situation occurs, investigate and determine if the applicant is capable of managing their benefits, per GN 00502.020. As a person needing a payee, this individual cannot serve as a payee. Do not appoint an applicant as a payee if they have a payee. There are no exceptions to this rule.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Applicant has a payee”. The non-select reason for this alert is "Applicant has a payee".

f. RP has death alert DIPS

The “RP has death alert-DIPS” alert means that we received death data for an applicant in the Death Information Processing System (DIPS). When this alert generates, investigate and resolve the death alert. For more information on DIPS Alerts, see GN 02602.051 and GN 02602.065.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “DIPS death record for payee”. The non-select reason for this alert is “Death of applicant”.

g. RP has death alert NUMI

The “RP has death alert Numi” alert means eRPS detected a Numident Death Match Alert. These Death alerts generate when there is a discrepancy between the death data on the Numident, and the Master Beneficiary Record or Supplemental Security Record. You must resolve this alert. For information on Numident Death Match Alerts, see GN 02602.065 and GN 02602.070.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Numident death information for applicant”. The non-select reason for this alert is “Death of applicant”.

h. RP has discrepancies between Client Numi

The “RP has discrepancies between Client-data Numi” alert means the SSN input into eRPS does not match the information on the Numident. Double-check that the information you input is accurate. If the applicant needs to update their personal information, see RM 10212.000 and RM 10200.000.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Client identity information is discrepant from Numident identity information for applicant”. You must resolve this issue prior to any selection on non-selection of the applicant.

i. BN is a RP

The “BN is a RP” alert means the beneficiary is a payee for another person. A beneficiary needing a payee cannot serve as a payee for another person. If the beneficiary serving as payee is now incapable, you must develop a new payee for the other person. There are no exceptions to this rule. You must resolve the alert prior to a selection of the payee applicant.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Beneficiary is payee for another beneficiary-develop payee for other beneficiary”.

j. RP is overpaid due to death of beneficiary

The “RP is overpaid due to death of the beneficiary” alert means that during prior service as a payee, the applicant received a check issued after the death of a beneficiary and did not return the check to SSA. A payee’s failure to return payments received after the death of a beneficiary is an indication that the applicant is not a suitable payee choice. For more information, see GN 02201.001B.2.e. If the payee has multiple overpayment liability indicators, you must resolve each specific indicator prior to appointing the payee.

NOTE: The Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen error message is “Payee overpayment due to death of a beneficiary”.

To determine the record involving the overpayment and verify the correctness of the alert message, take the following steps:

  1. 1. 

    Perform an individual payee, organizational payee, or a beneficiary/payee search on the eRPS home screen (MS 07401.002);

  2. 2. 

    On the Representative Payee Details tab, under the Case Details heading, click Beneficiary List, and then click Terminated List. Obtain a list of the payee’s terminated beneficiaries from the Terminated Beneficiary List screen (MS 07420.018).

  3. 3. 

    Look for a Yes in the Bene OP field on the Terminated Beneficiary List screen;

  4. 4. 

    Query the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), Payment History Update System Queries (PHUS), Supplemental Security Record (SSR), Debt Management System (DMS), or the Treasury Check Information (TCIS) to verify when death occurred and if the check is still outstanding.

Do not appoint a payee applicant who has received and not returned checks issued after the death of a beneficiary unless you have evidence that:

  • the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary;

  • there are no other more suitable applicants; and

  • the debt has been satisfied.

If a payee applicant meets all three criteria, take the following steps:

  1. 1. 

    On the Relationship Details Tab, under Case Details, select Overpayment Liability to access the Overpayment Liability screen (MS 07420.024);

  2. 2. 

    Delete the overpayment liability indicator and document your reason for deleting the indicator in the “Change Reason” text box.

If the payment records do not show that the specific debt has been satisfied, you may appoint the applicant if one of the following exceptions apply:

  • there is evidence the payee returned the overpayment due to the death of the beneficiary; or

  • there is a waiver/appeal pending for the overpayment due to death of the beneficiary.

If one of the exceptions applies, take the following steps to appoint the applicant and track the case:

  1. 1. 

    Document the evidence of the returned overpayment or pending waiver/appeal on the Overpayment Liability screen (MS 07420.024);

  2. 2. 

    Select “Remittance/Waiver /Appeal Pending” check box on the Overpayment Liability screen. This action will establish a work issue with a 180 day tickle;

  3. 3. 

    If the work issue is outstanding after 180 days, eRPS will issue the alert, “RP is overpaid due to death of beneficiary (evidence expired).” For additional instructions on appointing the applicant after the 180-day work issue, follow GN 00502.132B.4.o in this section.

4. Rep Payee Selection-Decision Screen Alerts when a Note is required

The alerts listed below in this section, display on the Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen because you must:

  1. a. 

    Document the note box in eRPS on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

  2. b. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” to document your justification for appointing the applicant.

Some alerts require manager approval. If manager approval is required, the manager must take action on the Approve Selection screen under “Manager Actions” from the eRPS overview screen (MS 07412.006).

a. RP prev fug felon match-verify status

The “RP prev fug felon match-verify status” alert means that in the past this person was identified with an offense code of 4901, 4902, or 4999 by the Fugitive Felon/eRPS system match process. For fugitive felon prohibition, refer to GN 00502.133A.2. and GN 00504.102. When the fugitive felon/eRPS system identifies a person through the match process, the system builds a fugitive felon match indicator of “Y” on the eRPS. If this remark appears during a new RP application, ask the applicant about his fugitive felon status on the Criminal Warrant Questions screen (MS 07410.005). If the applicant alleges the outstanding felony warrant is satisfied or is for an offense other than 4901, 4902, or 4999, verify this information before you make your determination (Refer to GN 02613.500A.2.). If you confirm that the warrant has been satisfied, update the eRPS on the FUGFEL Crime Record Listing screen (MS 07410.003).

If the warrant has been satisfied, update the warrant disposition on the Fugitive Felon System Control File Database (FFSCF). (For further instructions on the FFSCF, see MS PRISON 006.003 and MS PRISON 006.006). Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document this information in eRPS. For more information, refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

b. RP pre-4/1/09 FF match – ver status

The “RP pre-4/1/09 FF match – ver status” alert means the fugitive felon match process identified the payee before the April 01, 2009, changes required by the Martinez Court Case agreement. (For more information on the Martinez court case see GN 02613.860). It also means the applicant may have an outstanding felony warrant.

You must verify the offense code and if the applicant satisfied the warrant to determine whether the offense code prohibits the applicant from serving as payee. You are required to document this information when a Note box appears in eRPS. For instructions on determining if the warrant is satisfied, see GN 02613.500A.2.

c. RP self-reported fugitive felon

The “RP self-reported fugitive felon” alert means the payee applicant answered “yes” to the payee application question asking, “do you have any unsatisfied felony warrants for your arrest?” Prohibit a person from serving as a representative payee if they have an unsatisfied felony warrant issued for one of the following three offenses:

  • Escape from custody (offense code 4901),

  • Flight to avoid prosecution, confinement, etc. (offense code 4902), and

  • Flight-escape (offense code 4999).

There are no exceptions to this prohibition. If the warrant is satisfied and the individual is no longer a fugitive felon under these three codes, then the individual can serve as payee if they are the most suitable applicant and no other prohibited conditions exist.

If the warrant is satisfied or is for an offense code other than 4901, 4902, or 4999, carefully consider the nature of the crime and how the applicant resolved the warrant. Do not appoint the individual as payee if you determine that they pose some risk to the beneficiary. For further instructions for payees with past criminal behavior, see GN 00502.133. Document your non-selection or selection in eRPS. For more information on persons who should not be appointed as representative payees, refer to GN 00502.132B.2. in this section.

NOTE: The fugitive felon provisions for payees differ from those for benefit payments. The representative payee provisions do not apply to those persons who are parole and probation violators and they do not provide good cause exceptions for those with unsatisfied felony warrants (with offense codes 4901, 4902, or 4999).

d. RP self-reported felon

The “RP self-reported felon” alert means that the current or prior payee application indicates the applicant reported they were convicted of a felony. When this situation occurs, ask for additional information about the type of crime, when it occurred, and the sentence the applicant received. There are certain felony crimes that bar some applicants from serving as a payee. For a list of these crimes, see GN 00502.133.

You may not appoint a payee applicant convicted of a felony crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4 unless there is no other suitable applicant and they are:

  • custodial parent of a minor child for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial spouse for the beneficiary for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial parent of an adult beneficiary who has a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • parent who was previously payee for their minor child who has since turned 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits; or

  • the recipient of a presidential or gubernatorial pardon for their crimes.

For other felony crimes not listed in GN 00502.133A.4, do not appoint the applicant unless you have evidence that they pose no risk to the beneficiary and there are no other more suitable applicants. Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document this information in eRPS. For more refer to GN 00502.132B.2. in this section.

e. RP applicant on PUPS database

The “RP applicant on PUPS database” alert means that a PUPS query exists for the payee. If this remark appears during a new RP application, you must query the PUPS record and discuss the prisoner information with the applicant.

If you encounter the alert “RP applicant on PUPS Database”:

  • Query the applicant’s PUPS record, and

  • Review the information on the PUPS record.

A PUPS record shows the date of confinement, date of conviction, and the release date. Some records may show blanks or 0000s for these dates. If the information is incomplete, ask the payee applicant to provide the missing information following the procedures on verifying criminal history in GN 00502.117B.3. Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document this information in eRPS. For more information refer to GN 00502.132B.2. in this section.

If the payee applicant is also a title II beneficiary or SSI recipient, consider the effect of the incarceration on their own entitlement or eligibility.

f. RP incarceration for over 1 year

The “RP incarceration for over 1 year” alert means that during the current or prior payee application, the applicant responded that they were incarcerated for more than 1 year. When this occurs, ask for additional details about the crime. Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document this information in eRPS. For more information refer to GN 00502.132B.2. in this section.

By regulation, persons incarcerated for more than 1 year may not serve as payee unless you determine that the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary and you determine it would be in the best interests of the beneficiary.

Do not appoint a payee applicant imprisoned for more than 1 year unless you have evidence that they pose no risk to the beneficiary and there are no other more suitable applicants.

Do not appoint a payee applicant imprisoned for more than 1 year if they have been convicted of a felony crime listed in GN 00502.133A.4. unless there is no other suitable applicant and they are:

  • custodial parent of the minor child for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial parent of an adult beneficiary who has a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom they are applying to be payee;

  • parent who was previously payee for their minor child who has since turned 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits; or

  • the recipient of a presidential or gubernatorial pardon for their crimes and there are no more suitable applicants.

Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document this information in eRPS. For more information, refer to GN 00502.132B.2 in this section.

g. Applicant between 15 & 17 years old. Document your capability determination

The “15 & 17 years old” alert means the applicant is under age 18. You must justify your capability determination and selection reason because this applicant is a minor child. Minor children are generally presumed to be incapable. For more information regarding a child’s capability, see GN 00502.070.

NOTE: This edit will only appear on the Rep Payee Selection-Decision screen.

h. Confirm FFS status and insurance is still valid.

The “Confirm FFS status and insurance is still valid” alert means there is a FFS issue. A non-governmental FFS organization must be bonded in order to be authorized by SSA to collect a fee. Bonding constitutes a bond or insurance contract that protects the beneficiary from financial loss caused by the action or inaction of the organizational payee, or officer(s), or an employee of the organizational payee. For more information of the status of FFS organizations, see GN 00506.105 and GN 00506.400.

i. Misuse allegation pending

The “Misuse allegation pending” alert means the applicant is currently under investigation for misuse. An allegation or information that raises a suspicion of misuse may take various forms and come from many sources. For information on investigating and developing Misuse Allegations, see GN 00604.020.

NOTE: Manager approval is required for this selection. Document management’s justification for selecting the payee applicant on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

j. eRPA form in the past year pending

The “eRPA form in the past year pending” alert means the applicant did not complete and return the Annual Representative Payee Report in the prior 12 months. This alert notifies you that a current non-responder is filing an application to serve as the payee. As part of the payee application, question the non-responder to determine if a change of payee is needed for current beneficiaries served and if the payee is most suitable for the application being filed. Management override is required for stuck eRPA cases. For more information on Non-Responders, see GN 00605.085.

NOTE: Manager approval is required for this selection. Document management’s justification for selecting the payee applicant on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

k. RP has a history of misuse

The “RP has a history of misuse” alert means that eRPS contains information that the payee applicant was previously a payee and misused the beneficiary’s benefits. eRPS generates a Misuse Allegation Records screen reflecting information about the past misuse occurrence. While prior misuse is not an absolute bar to representative payee service, it is a very strong indicator that this person is not a good payee candidate.

Do not appoint a representative payee applicant with prior history of misuse unless:

  • the applicant has repaid or established a plan to repay the misused amount,

  • you have evidence that the applicant poses no risk to the beneficiary, and

  • there are no other more suitable applicants.

NOTE: Manager approval is required for this selection. You must prepare a 3 month diary for follow up per GN 00502.134B.2. Document management’s justification for selecting the payee applicant on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

l. Payee has a history of being non-selected for poor performance

The “Payee has a history of being non-selected for poor performance” alert means the applicant is a questionable payee choice. You should not appoint an applicant with a history of poor performance unless you determine there is some compelling reason for doing so.

NOTE: Manager approval is required for this selection, see GN 00502.134 for more information regarding poor past performance. Document management’s justification for selecting the payee applicant on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

m. Chronic non-responder 2 of 3 recent reports

The “Chronic non-responder 2 of 3 recent reports” alert means the applicant was a non-responder 2 of the last 3 reporting periods that occurred within the past six years. Social Security law and regulations require representative payees to complete accounting report every year. The annual accounting report is used to monitor how the payee spent or saved the benefits on behalf of the beneficiary. This alert provides information on if an applicant is able to fulfill their payee reporting responsibilities. For general information on Non-Responders, see GN 00605.270.

n. Interview was other than Face-to-Face

The “Interview was other than Face-to-Face” alert means the application was taken over the phone or via Video Service Delivery (VSD). You must justify why the payee application was not taken in a face-to-face setting using the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen. Interview each payee applicant, including parents with custody who are completing an application for Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income for a child, in a face-to-face setting unless:

  • doing so would cause undue hardship;

  • the payee applicant previously had a face-to-face interview and is currently serving as a payee and is qualified to do so; or

  • the application is being processed in a centralized processing unit and the applicant is a parent with custody of the beneficiary who is their minor child or a spouse with custody of the beneficiary who is their spouse.

NOTE: If the applicant meets one of the above exceptions to a face-to-face interview, you must conduct a telephone or VSD interview.

o. RP is overpaid due to the death of beneficiary (evidence expired)

The “RP is overpaid due to death of beneficiary (evidence expired)” alert means the applicant provided evidence of returning an overpayment due to the death of a beneficiary; however, the remittance processing was still outstanding after 180 days. You should not appoint the payee applicant unless there is an additional delay in the remittance processing of the payment, there is no risk to the beneficiary, and there are no other more suitable applicants.

There may be instances in which a payee has both the “RP is overpaid due to the death of beneficiary (evidence expired)” alert and the “RP is overpaid due to the death of beneficiary” alert. Address the “RP is overpaid due to death of beneficiary” alert using the instruction in GN 00502.132B.3.j and the “RP is overpaid due to the death of the beneficiary (evidence expired)” alert by using the instruction in GN 00502.132B.4.o.

NOTE: Manager approval is required. Document management’s justification for selecting the payee applicant on the Selection-Required Notes screen (MS 07412.007).

p. Vendor communication error, background check must be performed outside of eRPS

The "Vendor communication error, background check must be performed outside of eRPS" alert means the eRPS failed to conduct the background check due to a service communication error. In addition to the manager alert, the Background Check Results screen will display a message of the service communication issue. For more information, see MS 07409.024. You must perform the background check on the payee applicant outside of eRPS.

To perform a background check outside of eRPS you must:

  1. 1. 

    Access LexisNexis Accurint outside eRPS. SI 01140.105 provides detailed instructions on how to request LexisNexis Accurint.

  2. 2. 

    Input manager confirmation of background check by selecting the "background check completed" box on the Selection-Required Notes screen. For more information, see MS 07412.007.

5. Other alerts

a. PUPS/eRPS match alert

eRPS generates a PUPS/eRPS alert when current prisoner data is matched against eRPS and a match is found on someone with an active payee record. The alert means we received information from a prison that the payee was (and may still be) incarcerated and therefore we must investigate this person's suitability to continue as payee. This is a post-entitlement process, which produces an alert to the field and establishes an issue in eRPS. For processing instructions on payee identified by the PUPS match, refer to GN 00504.103.

b. Fugitive felon/eRPS match alert

eRPS generates the fugitive felon/eRPS match alert when fugitive felon data is received and matches an active or pending rep payee record in the eRPS. Effective April 1, 2009, only unsatisfied felony warrants with offense code 4901, 4902, or 4999 run against the eRPS (parole or probation data screened out). This is a post-entitlement alert process which:

  • produces an alert item to the field,

  • establishes a fugitive felon indicator of “Y” on the representative payee’s record (for fugitive felon alerts see GN 00502.132B.3.c. in this section), and

  • establishes a Work Issue on the Add New Issue screen (MS 07408.007) in eRPS.

For processing instructions on representative payees identified by the fugitive felon match, refer to GN 00504.102.

c. Notification that a Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP) was imposed

eRPS receives notification any time a CMP is imposed on a current representative payee. Referrals to OIG can result in the imposition of a CMP. OIG imposes a CMP when they determine the individual’s conduct was bad enough to merit its imposition.

Weigh the circumstances that caused the CMP and determine if the payee remains a suitable payee choice. Use the Rep Payee Applicant “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to manually record information about the CMP in eRPS.

C. References

GN 00502.302 Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

CITATIONS: Social Security Act as amended, sections 205(j), 1631(a)(2)

A. Background

Section 202 of the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (SPSSBA), Public Law 115-165, requires us to:

  • conduct criminal background checks on payee applicants;

  • prohibit the selection of certain payee applicants with a felony conviction of committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit certain crimes;

  • conduct criminal background checks on all currently serving payees who do not meet one of the exceptions set out in the law, and remove and replace those with a felony conviction of committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit certain crimes by January 1, 2024; and

  • conduct ongoing criminal background checks, at least once every five years, on all currently serving payees who do not meet one of the exceptions set out in the law.

B. Policy for Criminal Background Checks on Payees

Section 202 of the SPSSBA, bars an individual from serving as payee if convicted of any of the felony crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.4, unless the individual is the:

  • custodial parent of the minor child for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • custodial spouse of the beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • custodial parent of an adult beneficiary who has a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • custodial court appointed guardian of a beneficiary for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • custodial grandparent of the minor grandchild for whom the individual applies to serve;

  • parent who was previously the payee for their minor child who has since turned 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits; or

  • recipient of a presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the conviction.

C. Procedure for Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

Field Offices (FO) will receive criminal work issues in the electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) Workload Management, when we receive criminal information through our eRPS criminal background check. Management or other designated staff must assign the criminal work issues.

The types of criminal work issues are:

  • VRFCRM - when a payee has criminal history after the criminal background check and the criminal history needs verification.

  • FELONY - when a payee has a felony crime conviction.

  • CRM202 - when a payee has a barred crime conviction.

  • PYE202 - when a payee has not responded to the eRPS Come-in/Call-in notice or the DPS Call-in notice.

NOTE: These criminal work issues are time sensitive. SPSSBA requires all non-exempt current payees with a barred crime be removed and replaced by January 1, 2024. You must initiate work issues within 15 calendar days of receipt and complete payee development, when appropriate, within 30 calendar days of receipt of the work issue.

1. Processing a VRFCRM Work Issue

Use the following steps to process a VRFCRM work issue:

  1. 1. 

    Review the criminal information on the Criminal Background Check Results screen (MS 07410.007) in eRPS.

  2. 2. 

    Attempt to contact the payee by telephone to verify the criminal information. If you cannot reach the payee on the first telephone attempt, make a second attempt on a different business day. Document your telephone attempts on the Report of Contact Details screen (MS 07416.002).

  3. 3. 

    When speaking with the payee:

    1. a. 

      verify the payee's identity (GN 00502.117) and relationship with the beneficiaries the payee serves (MS 07420.010); and

    2. b. 

      read the following Privacy Act statement:

      Sections 205(a), 205(j), and 1631(a) of the Social Security Act allow us to collect your information, which we will use to determine your eligibility to serve as a representative payee. Providing this information is voluntary, but not providing the information may prevent us from assisting you. We may disclose your information as law permits, including to employers, our contractors, and others listed in routine uses in System of Records Notice 60-0089, 60-0222, and 60-0320; available at www.ssa.gov/privacy. Your information may also be used in computer matching programs to establish or verify eligibility for Federal benefit programs and debts under these programs; and

    3. c. 

      explain to the payee the criminal information provided in the background check. Follow the steps in GN 00502.117B.3 to verify the payee's barred crime, felony crime, or non-felony criminal information.

  4. 4. 

    After you review the payee's criminal history, select the "Unverified" link on the Criminal Background Check Results screen. If you cannot verify the payee's criminal history, follow the instructions in GN 00502.117B.3.a.

  5. 5. 

    Answer all the questions on the Criminal History Verification screen (MS 07410.008).

  6. 6. 

    If the crime is a barred crime, select the appropriate barred crime from the drop down box.

If you cannot contact the payee by telephone, you must send the automated eRPS Come-in/Call-in notice or the DPS Call-in notice requesting contact within 15 days. To send the automated eRPS notice, select the "Request Come-In/Call-In Notice" tab on the Come-In/Call-In Notice - Criminal History screen (MS 07410.011).

NOTE: In rare instances, a payee with a foreign address will require a DPS Call-in notice. For these cases, you must create a 15-day tickle within the VRFCRM work issue. If the payee does not respond within the 15-day timeframe, you must remove the payee.

If the payee indicates a crime on the background check is erroneous, follow the instruction in GN 00502.117B.3.c.

2. Processing a FELONY Work Issue

After verifying a payee's criminal history on the Criminal History Verification screen (MS 07410.008), you will receive a FELONY work issue if one of the crimes is a felony and not one of the barred crimes listed in GN 00502.133A.3. Use the following steps to process this work issue:

  1. 1. 

    Determine if the payee is still suitable. A payee with criminal history is a questionable payee and should only continue serving if the criteria in GN 00502.132A.2 is met.

  2. 2. 

    Go to the Payee Retention Decision - Criminal History screen (MS 07410.009) and select the "Decision" link.

  3. 3. 

    Answer the "Is a change of payee needed?" question.

  4. 4. 

    If you retain the payee, check and document the reasons for retaining the payee. If you remove the payee, develop for a new payee or consider direct payee for the beneficiary by following the steps in GN 00502.000 Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee.

3. Processing a CRM202 Work Issue

After verifying a payee's criminal history on the Criminal History Verification screen (MS 07410.008), you will receive a CRM202 work issue if the payee has a barred crime conviction listed in GN 00502.133A.3. Use the following steps to process this work issue:

  1. 1. 

    Go to the Payee Retention Decision - Criminal History screen (MS 07410.009) and select the “Make Decision” link.

  2. 2. 

    You must remove the payee from serving any beneficiaries they serve where the payee does not meet one of the exceptions as outlined in GN 00502.302B in this section.

  3. 3. 

    Develop for a new payee or consider direct payment for the beneficiary by following the steps in GN 00502.000 Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee.

4. Processing a PYE202 Work Issue

When a payee does not respond to an eRPS Come-in/Call-in notice or DPS Call-in notice within 15 days, you will receive the PYE202 work issue. Use the following steps to process this work issue:

  1. 1. 

    Go to the Payee Retention Decision - Criminal History screen (MS 07410.009) and select the “Make Decision” link.

  2. 2. 

    You must remove the payee from serving any beneficiaries they serve where the payee does not meet one of the exceptions as outlined in GN 00502.302B in this section.

  3. 3. 

    Develop for a new payee or consider direct payment for the beneficiary by following the steps in GN 00502.000 Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee.

D. References

GN 00502.110 - Taking Applications in the eRPS

GN 00502.117 - Verifying Information Provided by the Payee or Payee Applicant

GN 00502.132 - Selecting a Qualified Representative Payee

GN 00502.133 - Payee Applicant is a Felon or Fugitive or Has Been Convicted of Other Criminal Act

GN 00502.301 - State and Territory Digest of Crimes Barring an Individual from Serving as Payee

MS 07410.007 - Criminal Background Check Results screen

MS 07410.008 - Criminal History Verification screen

MS 07410.009 - Payee Retention Decision - Criminal History screen

MS 07410.010 - View Update Payee Retention Decision screen

MS 07410.011 - Come-In/Call-in Notice - Criminal History screen

MS 07410.012 - Payee Retention Decision History screen


GN 00502 TN 66 - Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee - 6/24/2022