Identification Number:
GN 00502 TN 61
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. 61, 09/17/2021

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 criminal history and process the four new criminal work issues included in the September 18, 2021 Electronic Representative Payee System (eRPS) release. We are creating a new POMS section for the eRPS enhancements, which includes the ability to perform criminal background checks on non-exempt current payees.

Summary of Changes

GN 00502.117 Verifying Information Provided by a Payee or Payee Applicant

We changed the title of the POMS to Verifying Information Provided by a Payee or Payee Applicant.  Throughout the section, replaced “payee applicant” with “payee or payee applicant”, if applicable.

Subsection B - We added procedures for using the new work issue for criminal history development and procedures for verifying criminal history.

Subsection B - We updated the "Background Check Results" screen name to "Criminal Background Check Results" screen.

Subsection C - We added MS 07410.007, MS 07410.008, and MS 07410.009 MSOMS as references.

Subsection C - We added GN 03301.005, GN 03316.065, and GN 00502.302 POMS as references.

GN 00502.302 Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

This is a new section that contains the policy and procedures for processing criminal background work issues on representative payees.

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 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 his or her minor child and we cannot issue an SSN, appoint the parent as payee if he or she is 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.

You must weigh information about the payee 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 a payee. 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 he or she is 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.

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. The 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 his or her minor child. These are the only cases processed outside of the eRPS system. 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, the 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 his or her 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:

  • his or her 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.

EXCEPTION: If a payee or payee applicant indicates he or she was convicted of any of the crimes listed in GN 00502.133A, there is no reason to request further documentation. The payee's or payee applicants’ 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 he or she needs to provide the appropriate court documents that reflect the information you need.

    1. a. 

      If the 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 him or her 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 he or she committed the crime.

  4. 4. 

    Use the Rep Payee Applicant or Rep Payee “Note Type” on the Make Note screen to document the payee 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 courts 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 him or her 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 the payee is 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 Regional Chief Counsel and send the court documents along with a request for an opinion asking whether the payee or payee applicant's criminal history would bar him or her from serving as payee based on the policy in GN 00502.133A.4.

  2. 2. 

    Forward the opinion from the Regional Chief Counsel to the local FO.

c. Handling erroneous criminal information received from the 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 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 he or she 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 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 the eRPS with the results of your employment verification.

Employment allegations are collected on the Applicant Income screen (MS INTRANETERPS 07409.013) in the 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 the 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 also alleges 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 00502.302 Processing Criminal Background Check Work Issues on Payees

CITATIONS: Social Security Act as amended, section 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; 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 his or her 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.

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 relationship with the beneficiaries the payee serves; and

    2. b. 

      explain to the payee the criminal information provided in the background check. Follow the steps in GN 00502.117B.3 to verify the payees 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 61 - Determining the Need for, Developing and Selecting a Representative Payee - 9/17/2021