For IGRA trusts, we use a precedent-based review system. This process requires a one-time review of the relevant trust documents by the jurisdictional RCC (determined by the location of the tribe’s headquarters), including evidence that the DOI has approved the trust as an IGRA trust. After the RCC drafts an opinion about who the grantor of the master trust is, the Regional Trust Lead (RTL) evaluates the opinion in conjunction with any other relevant information, and publishes a precedent in the SSI Trust Monitoring System (SSITMS). The field office (FO) uses that precedent, along with a tribal member’s joinder agreement or certification letter, to make an initial trust resource determination. The FO then follows the regular trust review process of inputting their initial determination into SSITMS for RTL review and FO effectuation, as outlined in this section.
NOTE: Documents regarding the IGRA trust, including any amendments to the documents, must be provided to the agency. Tribal members or the tribe itself may submit IGRA trust documents through a Regional Communications Director (RCD), Public Affairs Specialist (PAS), or FO Management in lieu of an FO technician.
FO technicians and RTLs must follow these steps to make an IGRA trust resource determination under the precedent-based review system.
1. SSA receives trust documents
When we receive a trust document, joinder agreement, or certification letter, check the SSITMS SharePoint Repository for Precedents to see if a precedent exists for the trust by taking the following actions:
Use the SSITMS “Help” link to access the SharePoint Repository for Precedents. The “Help” link also contains a user guide with instructions for using the SSITMS website.
If a precedent exists, skip to Step 3.
If there is no precedent, email all documents to the RTL for referral to the jurisdictional RCC. Upon receiving an alert back from the RTL that the precedent is ready, go to Step 3.
2. RTL establishes trust grantor precedent based on RCC opinion
Once the RCC reviews the trust and drafts an opinion about the grantor of the trust, the RTL takes the following actions:
Use the RCC opinion, together with any other relevant information, to establish a trust precedent and upload the precedent to the SSITMS SharePoint Repository for Precedents.
Include in the precedent:
copy of the master trust agreement;
sample certification letter or joinder agreement;
copy of the RCC opinion on the IGRA trust; and
precedent summary sheet with: trust title, establishment date, amendment dates, and whether the trust meets the requirements in SI
01120.195E in this section. State in the summary the specific reason why the IGRA trust does not meet any requirement.
Alert the submitting RCD, PAS or FO of the review completion and precedent.
IMPORTANT: Do not share copies of trust precedents, RCC
opinions, or other materials in the SSITMS SharePoint Repository for
Precedents with the public, attorneys, or non-SSA personnel. Only
precedents in the PS part of PolicyNet are available to the
3. FO makes initial trust resource determination
Use the precedent and certification letter or joinder agreement to make an initial trust resource determination.
Review the certification letter and any other pertinent documents to establish that the individual is a beneficiary of the IGRA trust.
NOTE: It is not necessary to verify that the beneficiary is a tribal member. Only tribal members, or specifically defined groups of members, can be beneficiaries of IGRA trusts.
If the individual presents a joinder agreement (rather than the simpler certification letter), compare it to the IGRA trust precedent to make sure that it contains the same provisions.
If, according to the precedent, the tribe is the grantor of the trust, review the certification letter or joinder agreement based on the requirements in SI 01120.200 and determine if the trust is a resource or not.
If, according to the precedent, the tribe is not the grantor of the trust, review the certification letter or joinder agreement based on the requirements in SI 01120.201 and determine if the trust is a resource or not.
Document the trust resource determination, including whether the tribe is the trust grantor, whether the trust counts as a resource, and any references and rationale used in the decision-making process.
For SSI Claims System (MSSICS) cases, use the Report of Contact (DROC) screen.
For non-MSSICS cases, use a Report of Contact (SSA-5002) and fax it into the electronic folder (EF) or Non-Disability Repository for Evidentiary Documents (NDRed).
Fax the initial trust resource determination, a copy of the trust, and other pertinent trust documents into the appropriate EF.
4. FO transmits trust resource determination to RTL
Use SSITMS to transmit the trust resource determination to the RTL for review.
On the SSITMS website, select the “Add New Case” tab and input the claimant or recipient’s name, social security number, and any relevant information about the trust.
Indicate in the CS Remarks field any references and rationale used for the determination.
Select “Other” as the trust type.
Submit the trust resource determination to the RTL for review following the instructions on SSITMS.
SSITMS sends an email requesting a review to the RTL and the FO/ADO/RO mailbox. The email subject is “SSI Trust for Review.”
5. RTL reviews FO trust resource determination
The RTL takes the following actions:
Review the FO’s determination, including relevant information in MSSICS and the EF, and determine if you agree with the FO’s determination.
Document in the SSITMS Results field whether you agree or disagree with the FO’s determination; annotate the RTL Remarks field; update the trust status to “Review Completed.”
Click “Update” in SSITMS to notify the FO by email that the RTL review is complete.
6. FO effectuates the trust resource determination
The FO takes the following actions:
Upon receiving the email from SSITMS, access SSITMS to view the results of the RTL’s review.
Select the case from the Summary page listing or use the email link to access the case; click on the “Details/Update” tab. The Results field indicates whether the RTL agreed or disagreed with the FO’s resource determination.
After resolving any issues, change the trust status to “FO Effectuated” to process the case.
NOTE: Select “FO Effectuated” only after completing all case development. Changing the Trust Status to “FO Effectuated” locks the case in SSITMS. Only the Remarks fields is accessible for additional comments.