Identification Number:
Intended Audience:RCs/ARCs/ADs/FOs/TSCs/PSCs/PCs/OCO/
Originating Office:DCBFM OFPO
Title:Handling inquiries resulting from erroneous Benefit Payment Offset (BPO) notices issued by Treasury
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:Title II (RSI)
Link To Reference:See Reference at the end of this EM
Retention Date: February 17, 2017

A. Purpose
    This emergency message (EM) provides instructions for responding to questions about erroneous Benefit Payment Offset (BPO) warning notices issued by the Department of the Treasury (Treasury).
      B. Background of issue
        The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 requires Treasury to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed to the Federal government. BPO is the reduction of Title II benefit payments to recover delinquent non-tax debts. BPO cannot reduce a Title II benefit below $750. BPO does not impact Title XVI payments.

        The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 authorizes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect overdue Federal tax debts of individuals who receive Federal payments, including Social Security payments. The law authorizes IRS to levy up to 15% of each payment until the tax debt is paid. The Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP) is an automated system that does not require SSA to take any action to reduce a payment. The Treasury's Bureau of Fiscal Services reduces, or levies, the payment after SSA certifies a payment and sends it to the Treasury for disbursement.

        During June, Treasury erroneously issued approximately 7,400 BPO warning notices to slightly more than 3,000 Title II beneficiaries. This affected Social Security (Title II only), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) beneficiaries. In addition, FPLP issued approximately 73,000 erroneous notices. No Title II benefits were offset.

        The BPO erroneous notice contains the name of the individual or entity, their mailing address, SSN for Title II debtors, and the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for entities. The FPLP amended their standard notice to reflect that potential SSA benefits may be offset.

        Beneficiaries will receive a notice from Treasury informing them of the personally identifiable information (PII) breach, which may cause them to contact SSA to inquire about the issue.

        C. Instructions for FOs

            If a beneficiary contacts you regarding this issue, inform them:
                · Their Title II benefits have not been affected, and they will continue to receive their monthly benefits as scheduled.
                · We can place a Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention (DDFP) block on their record if they are concerned about unauthorized direct deposit or address changes. To establish a DDFP block as a preventive measure, follow GN 02402.023D and for N8NN, TC 16001.026.
                · They can contact the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) call center at 1-800-304-3107 for additional instructions and any questions.
                · The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) all center is aware of this issue and will provide guidance.

          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 or problems to their Central Office contacts.


          GN 02402.023 Direct Deposit Fraud Prevention Policy
          TC 16001.026 Handling Direct Deposit (Auto – Enrollment) Fraud Prevention (DDFP) Blocks, Agency-Initiated (DDFP) Blocks and eServices Blocks (Preventive Measure)
          GN 02410.305 Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP)

          EM-16028 - Handling inquiries resulting from erroneous Benefit Payment Offset (BPO) notices issued by Treasury - 08/17/2016