Identification Number:
EM-19014 REV
Intended Audience:All RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/PSCs
Originating Office:ORDP OISP
Title:Instructions for Developing and Processing Absences from the U.S. using the Foreign Travel Data (FTD) Application – POMS Instructions Will Follow
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:Title XVI (SSI)
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM.
 
Retention Date: December 28, 2019

REVISION: 6/28/2019
Section D: Updated instructions to clarify that technicians should use the Foreign Travel Data (FTD) application on scheduled and unscheduled redeterminations (RZ) initiated on or after June 17, 2019, involving a non-U.S. citizen; AND the recipient answers “No” to the question “since RZ period date have you been outside the U.S.?”
Section E: Updated instructions to clarify that technicians MUST enter the actual Alien Registration Number (ARN) when requesting travel data via the FTD application.

A. Purpose
    This emergency message (EM) introduces the Foreign Travel Data (FTD) application, which provides access to data from the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS). This EM also provides policy reminders for developing third party reports of absences from the United States (U.S.).


B. Background
    With the exception of students and the children of service members abroad, a person is ineligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if he or she is outside the U.S. for an entire calendar month or 30 consecutive days or longer. We rely on SSI applicants and recipients to self-report when they travel outside the U.S. (i.e., foreign travel). (For a definition of the U.S. for SSI purposes, see SI 00501.410C.1.) Some applicants and recipients do not report foreign travel timely or at all, which may lead to overpayments due to ineligibility.

    Our Inspector General has long recommended that we improve our controls in this area by reducing our reliance on recipient reports and instead use data to detect recipient foreign travel. Furthermore, all President’s budget requests since February 2016 have recommended government-wide use of foreign travel data to curb improper payments in Federal programs.

    On June 17, 2019, we will begin using foreign travel data provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for SSI purposes. Currently ADIS does not contain travel information on U.S. citizens. We will begin using the system in certain cases for noncitizens and access data for U.S. citizens when it becomes available at the end of calendar year 2019. ADIS is an electronic repository that contains information on U.S. entries and exits, primarily by sea and air. FTD builds on our existing, successful exchanges with DHS that prevent and detect SSI improper payments.

    We developed the FTD application to obtain foreign travel information on SSI recipients and their eligible spouses to establish third party reports and further develop foreign travel. We will verify the travel information before taking any action to suspend a person’s SSI benefits. After we decide to suspend benefits, the person will have full appeal rights, including the right to continue to receive benefits during the first level of appeal in certain circumstances.

    The FTD application is available as a query feature in the SSI Claims System from the Person Multiple Claim Summary (PMCS) screen. NOTE: FTD is available for MSSICS claims only.

C. Policy for identifying an absence from the U.S. using the FTD application
    Use the FTD application to help identify absences from the U.S. for the purpose of determining SSI eligibility for non-citizens during redeterminations. Treat results obtained through the FTD application as third-party reports. For more information on third-party reports, see SI 02301.010C.3. Do not use the information obtained from the FTD application to suspend or reinstate benefits. You must verify the FTD information with the recipients or representative payees.

For more information on third-party reports, see SI 02301.010C.3.
    Request, receive, and view foreign travel results for non-citizen recipients using the FTD application during redeterminations only. An FTD User Guide is available via a user guide link in the upper right hand corner of the FTD application.
D. Policy to use the FTD application during redeterminations
    Use the FTD application when completing high, middle, or low-error profile scheduled and unscheduled redeterminations (RZ) initiated on or after June 17, 2019, involving a non-U.S. citizen; AND the recipient answers “No” to the question “since RZ period date have you been outside the U.S. (the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Northern Mariana Islands) a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days or more?”
    E. Accessing and using the FTD application

      The FTD User Guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to access and use the FTD application. The FTD User Guide is available via a user guide link in the upper right hand corner of the FTD application.
      For individual SSI recipients who are non-U.S. citizens, you MUST enter the actual ARN belonging to the recipient in the Citizenship Information section of the Person Information (APID) page so that the FTD query returns correct information.

      For eligible couples, where one of the members may be a U.S. citizen, you MUST enter the actual ARN belonging to the non-U.S. citizen member in the Citizenship Information section of the APID page so that the FTD query returns correct information.
    F. Verifying the FTD results

      Use SSA records to confirm that the identity of the recipient and spouse match the records that FTD returns to SSA. For procedures on how to match a travel event record to the recipient and spouse refer to the FTD User Guide. Document the determination that the FTD query returned results matching the recipient (or spouse) on the DROC screen. Include relevant information in the DROC as supportive documentation whenever available. Examples may include entry/exit travel dates, mode of travel, location of foreign country, alien registration number, etc.

      Verify FTD results that return:
        · Complete travel events (i.e., with a departure and arrival date) that span a full calendar month or are 30 consecutive days or more; or
        · Any incomplete travel data (i.e., a departure date without a corresponding arrival, or an arrival date without a corresponding departure) that may have resulted in an absence of a full calendar month or 30 consecutive days or more.
      Because the information is from a third-party source (i.e., DHS), verify the FTD results using policy and procedures in SI 02301.010 to contact the claimant, recipient (or spouse), or representative payee via telephone, mail, or in-person.

      NOTE: This EM addresses the first release of the FTD application (June 2019). There will be subsequent releases to expand usage and functionality, for which we will update this message. We will capture and analyze data to evaluate the FTD tool to determine its use and effectiveness in preventing and reducing improper payments due to absence from the U.S.

      1. FTD results – undisputed
      If the recipient (or spouse), or representative payee agrees with the FTD results, then document the recipient’s statement on the appropriate Living Arrangement Change screens in the SSI Claims Path with the confirmed dates of departure from, and arrival to, the U.S. as a first-party report. Document the DROC screen with SSI recipient (or spouse) confirmation of travel data from the FTD query. Include relevant information in the DROC as noted above.
      2. FTD results – disputed
      If the recipient (or spouse), or representative payee does not agree with the results, then request supporting evidence using the instructions in SI 00501.410E for proof of presence in the U.S. During the interview, obtain the following statement from the individual using the Person Remarks section at the bottom of the Residency and U.S. Presence screen in the SSI Claims System.
          “I affirm that I, or the individual I represent, did not leave the U.S. for a full calendar month, or 30 consecutive days or more. I understand that I must provide supporting evidence to confirm my statement, such as a plane ticket, passport, or other evidence of date of entry. I understand I can submit a signed statement from a U.S. resident who can vouch for my whereabouts or the whereabouts of the individual I represent. The statement must include their address and basis for their knowledge.”
      NOTE: Obtain the statement for each recipient of an eligible couple on the Person Remarks statement of the Residency and U.S. Presence screen.
      Document the dates of travel on the DROC screen including any other relevant supportive documentation as noted above.

      At the end of the interview, generate the Evidence Request Cover Notice from MSSICS. Enter ‘Y’ to select ‘Other Evidence Request.’ See MS 04422.025 Evidence Request Cover Notice Print Menu (DCMN) in this field, enter the following information:
          “Please give us proof of U.S. presence as stated in your attested statement on your Redetermination summary print-out.”
      If the recipient (or spouse), or representative payee provides the supporting evidence, document the appropriate Living Arrangement Change screens in the SSI Claims Path with the confirmed dates of departure from, and arrival to, the U.S. If the supporting evidence is not sufficient, then document your determination on the DROC screen.

      If the recipient (or spouse), or representative payee does not provide the supporting evidence then follow the existing policy in Failure to Provide Information (N20) SI 02301.235. If we send our request for information and receive undeliverable mail, then follow policy in Whereabouts Unknown (S06) SI 02301.240.

    G. Policy reminders for SSI ineligibility because of an absence from U.S.
      When the verified FTD information is material to SSI eligibility, follow the existing guidelines below to make an SSI eligibility determination.

      1. Calendar month eligibility requirement
        An individual is ineligible for SSI benefits for any month that he or she is outside the United States (U.S.) for a full calendar month. A calendar month is a period that begins with the first day of a given month and ends with the last day of that same month. For example, July 1 through July 31 is a calendar month, see SI 00501.410.

        NOTE: Exceptions to the above eligibility requirements exist for certain blind or disabled children of military parents stationed overseas and students who are temporarily abroad for study purposes. For details, see SI 00501.415C (for blind or disabled children) and SI 00501.411C (for students).
      2. When absence begins and ends
        A period of absence begins on the day after the individual's departure from the U.S., see SI 00501.410B.1. The length of time that an individual has been outside of the U.S. determines when a period of absence ends,see SI 00501.410B.2.. If the time outside of the U.S. is:

        · Less than 30 consecutive days, then the period of absence ends on the day before the individual returns to the U.S.; or

        · Thirty consecutive days or more, then the period of absence ends 30 consecutive days after the individual returns to the U.S.


      3. Reinstatement of SSI eligibility after a period of absence from the U.S.
        If otherwise eligible, an individual whose benefits have been suspended because of absence from the U.S. will be reinstated:

        · Effective on the 31st day of continuous presence after returning to the U.S. if the time outside the U.S. was 30 consecutive days or more; or

        · Effective with the day the recipient returned to the U.S., if the time outside the U.S. was for a full calendar month, but less than the 30 consecutive days (calendar month of February only), see SI 00501.410B.4.

        For more information on the suspension and reinstatement policies, see SI 02301.201B and SI 02301.205.


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

    References:
    SI 00501.410 Ineligibility Due to Absence from the United States/Developing Presence
    SI 00501.411 SSI Eligibility for Students Temporarily Abroad – Overview
    SI 00501.415 Blind or Disabled Children of Military Personnel Stationed Overseas – Overview
    SI 02301.010 How to Act on Reports
    SI 02301.201 Description of SSI Posteligibility (PE) Events
    SI 02301.205 Suspension and Reestablishing Eligibility
    SI 02301.235 Failure to Provide Information (N20)
    MS 04402.002 MSSICS and Person Information
    MS 04422.025 Evidence Request Cover Notice Print Menu (DCMN)
    EM-19014 REV - Instructions for Developing and Processing Absences from the U.S. using the Foreign Travel Data (FTD) Application – POMS Instructions Will Follow - 06/28/2019