TN 25 (04-18)

GN 02403.004 How to Handle Remittances in the Field Office (FO) Mailroom and Reception Area

A. Management responsibility for handing remittances

The following circumstance represents a high vulnerability to fraud and theft:

  • unsecured mailrooms,

  • unattended mailbags, and

  • the failure to initially stamp Government benefit checks.

If an individual FO is unable to maintain a separation of duties to address these vulnerabilities, that office must request a waiver from the Center for Security and Integrity (CSI), per GN 02403.002E.

The purpose of these instructions is to:

  • render remittances other than cash nonnegotiable, and

  • control cash at the point of receipt in the office.

NOTE: Non-responder (third alert) provisions and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks for recipients approved to use the FO address have their own separate control procedures. See GN 00605.085 for non-responder cases and GN 02401.050 for FO address cases.

B. Mail delivery and opening

1. Mail delivery requirements

The post office must deliver all FO mail directly (face-to-face) to an SSA employee (with the exception noted in this subsection).

Where necessary, management will arrange to have the mail picked up at the post office by one (or more) SSA employee. The employee(s) picking up the mail should not have mail opening or distribution responsibilities. Do not leave mail unattended after its delivery to the FO.

If traveling to the local post office to pick up and drop off mail causes a significant burden to your FO, contact the local postmaster to request mail delivery and pickup. If the local postmaster denies the FO’s request, you may contact the Mail and the Postage Policy Team using the email address ^OPUM Mail and Postage Policy Team. The Mail and Postage Policy Team will attempt to establish a delivery arrangement with your local post office.

EXCEPTION: If direct mail delivery to/pickup from the SSA office cannot be arranged with the post office for an SSA office that is co-located with other non-SSA tenants in leased buildings and there is a centralized delivery/pickup location for all tenants, the centralized location may be used. Ensure that the postal service delivers and picks up SSA mail from a separate, secure box and that only the SSA office designee and mail carrier have keys to the SSA mail container.

NOTE: You can find instructions for handling cash mailed or brought into the FO in GN 02403.009.

2. Mail opening

There must be two management-designated employees present when opening all mail. This includes mail addressed to specific employees or mail annotated “Do Not Open in Mailroom.” If staffing size makes this mandate difficult, the FOs can achieve the dual controls by opening mail before or after the office opens to the public. Inspect the mail for the existence of a remittance prior to delivery to the addressee. If you find remittances in the mail, you must handle them according to procedures in GN 02403.004C.

NOTE: If an office cannot arrange to open the mail before or after the office is open to the public, and staffing size or other concerns make it impractical to adhere to the policy of two people present during mail opening, contact the appropriate Center for Security, and request a waiver, per GN 02403.002A.

C. Rendering remittances nonnegotiable

You may find remittances in the FO mail, or an individual may provide a remittance to an employee serving at a reception desk or interview area. In either situation, the receiving employee is responsible for rendering the remittance nonnegotiable and controlling it by entering the remittance into a mailroom or reception remittance (check or cash) log until we generate a systems receipt to avoid the risk of loss or theft.

1. Mailroom responsibilities

When opening mail, you must render the remittance as nonnegotiable by applying the appropriate stamps and control receipt of the remittance by recording the amount into the mailroom check or cash log. FO management should provide mail-opening personnel with guidance on established local procedures.

Mail opening personnel must:

  • Stamp “Not Negotiable” on any unendorsed returned Treasury check, and stamp “For Deposit Only, SSA” or “For Deposit Only, CMS” on any refund received - personal checks, money orders, or endorsed returned benefit checks,

  • Control the remittance by recording the remittance in a cash or check remittance log per GN 02403.004D, and

  • Hand deliver mailroom remittances to the management designated FO employee who will perform the duties as “remittance interviewer” as described in subsection B.

NOTE: Personnel designated to open the mail must carefully examine Treasury checks before rendering them nonnegotiable. Benefit checks for individuals using the FO mailing address as an alternative mailing address

(See GN 02401.050) or benefit checks redirected to the FO address when a representative payee fails to provide the FO with an annual accounting

(See GN 00605.085.C) are not remittances. Consult with a member of management if you are unsure how to process a particular check before rendering it nonnegotiable.

2. Reception area responsibilities

When an individual indicates at the reception desk that he or she will be making a remittance, either stamp the remittance to render it nonnegotiable, or log it in. Logging the remittance allows the FO to trace and ensure that it was received and properly entered into the remittance process.

After the mailroom stamps the remittance, return it to the remitter to hold until the interview (unless the receptionist conducts the interview).

NOTE: Unendorsed Title II and Title XVI Treasury checks returned to the FO due to a change in entitlement are not remittances. For instructions on handling unendorsed returned Treasury checks, see GN 02405.010 and GN 02405.100.

D. Controlling remittances

The mailroom and reception area use paper logs to control remittances. The purpose of the logs is to allow management to determine the reason why an interviewer did not process a potential remittance by contacting either the interviewer or the remitter. Management can use the logs as an indicator of potential fraud. For example, management should be alert to the possibility of theft when reviews of the logs indicate a pattern of remittances not entered into the FO remittance process.

NOTE: The logs must be in paper form, with entries made in ink only. Electronic logs (keying data onto a spreadsheet or other document on the computer) are not acceptable as the entries are susceptible to deletion or alteration.

The logs must include the following information:

  • name of the remitter,

  • name of the beneficiary,

  • SSN of the beneficiary,

  • type of remittance (returned (unendorsed) Treasury check, endorsed Treasury check, personal check, or money order),

  • date and time received, (remittances may come in after daily FORT is produced)

  • remittance amount, and

  • name of the interviewer.

NOTE: Additional information in the log might include the phone number of remitter, and the reason for return.

Use the logs to control all remittances. Retain the remittance logs in the FO for 3 years.

1. Mailroom responsibilities

The FO mailroom maintains a separate log for all remittances. When the mailroom receives a remittance, the mailroom employee must control the remittance in the log until the point that non-mailroom personnel determine that the remittance should be stamped “Not Negotiable” or “For Deposit Only, SSA” or “For Deposit Only, CMS.”

2. Reception area responsibilities

The reception area remittance log is used to control all potential remittances that the receptionist cannot render nonnegotiable at the point they are introduced into the FO. While the mailroom log only includes actual remittances received in the mailroom, the reception area log makes the receptionist aware of potential remittances as well as actual remittances.

For Example: If a beneficiary states that, he or she has gone back to work and wishes to return a check, the receptionist should enter the information on the log. The interviewer may determine that the beneficiary is due the check and not accept the remittance.

E. Remittance Logs

The intent of the remittance logs maintained in the mailroom and reception area are to establish control over remittances that enter the FO.

A designated member of management should review each log and account for all remittances weekly. The Remittance Supervisor should review the logs daily to reconcile remittances with that day’s Field Office Daily Receipt Listing (FODRL) per GN 02403.006B.3. Management should review any items that are still in the office to ensure that they are appropriately stamped and housed in a secure location. The designated member of management should determine and discuss the reason why the interviewer did not enter a logged item into the Debt Management System. Management has the option to confirm this with the remitter.

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GN 02403.004 - How to Handle Remittances in the Field Office (FO) Mailroom and Reception Area - 09/21/2012
Batch run: 01/19/2024