TN 112 (04-24)

GN 02406.002 The Robinson/Reyf Class Action Suit

A. Reason for the class action suit

In January 1997, co-defendants SSA and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) entered into a Settlement Agreement with the plaintiffs in a class action suit filed in the State of New York. The plaintiffs filed suit to challenge the procedures and practices used by SSA and Treasury to process reports of nonreceipt and replace Title II and Title XVI checks because of the filed allegations.

B. Resulting policy changes from Robinson-Reyf case

The Robinson-Reyf settlement agreement resulted in significant changes in SSA's operating procedures. SSA and Treasury made specific changes to the nonreceipt procedures. For purposes of a nonreceipt allegation or policy on check replacement, there is no longer a distinction between current month checks and prior month checks, or for recurring and nonrecurring payments. SSA must instruct Treasury to issue checks immediately to replace missing payments except when SSA makes a decision to obtain the status of the original check before issuance of the replacement payment. Because of the Robinson-Reyf litigation, effective November 1997 SSA and Treasury agreed to the following:

C. Immediate replacement process

We must direct Treasury, by transmitting an A-stop (in mass loss situations) or a B-stop (for nonreceipt of a missing recurring check), to issue a courtesy disbursement check prior to investigating the status of the missing check if a nonreceipt report is made timely (i.e., within 12 months from the issue date of the check).

D. Double check negotiation (DCN) bar removal

We removed the DCN bar so that any allegation of nonreceipt that is transmitted as a B-stop generates an immediate replacement in the form of a courtesy disbursement check for the missing check, regardless of prior double check negotiations.

There are two situations described in section I below where SSA may choose to have Treasury determine the status of the original check before issuing a replacement or settlement check (i.e., C-stop).

E. Obtaining status of the original check

When a B-stop is input, Treasury investigates the status of the original check after the issuance of the courtesy disbursement check. If the claimant cashes the original check and the courtesy disbursement check, SSA treats this as an overpayment and starts recovery action per GN 02210.000. The overpayment is subject to the SSA appeals process. For additional information about appeals under Robinson-Reyf see GN 02406.310.

F. Payment of Automated One Time Payments (AOTPs) for Title XVI

According to the immediate payment Robinson/Reyf policy, the nonreceipt process used for nonrecurring checks is no different from the process used in missing recurring checks. Therefore, when a nonreceipt is reported for a nonrecurring Title XVI check (type 2, 4 and 9), an AOTP is issued for the full amount of the missing check, in conjunction with the input of an A-Stop, which reports the status of the missing check, see GN 02406.205 and GN 02406.207.

G. Overpayment appeals process

The settlement agreement instituted an additional step in the appeals process. If the individual protests the overpayment and alleges the signature is not theirs on one of the checks within 30 days of the overpayment letter, SSA will stop recovery efforts until Treasury has provided a forgery determination

The individual has 30 additional days to return the completed claim form to SSA or the overpayment recovery will resume, see GN 02406.310.

SSA sends the completed claim form to Treasury who will investigate the claim and issue a forgery determination.

If the individual disagrees with Treasury's determination, he or she may file an appeal with Treasury, see GN 02406.310F.3.

If there is no appeal of Treasury’s forgery determination within 60 days, SSA will resume collection efforts.

If there is an appeal, SSA will not resume collection efforts until Treasury renders the second appeal determination.

H. Treasury's second consideration of the signature on the check when a timely nonreceipt is filed

When the beneficiary or recipient does not agree with Treasury’s initial decision on the forgery determination, he or she sends the appeal request to Treasury. Upon receipt of the request, the Questioned Document Branch (QDB) has a second analyst review the package for a final determination.

  1. 1. 

    If the QDB analyst reverses their decision and provides the response “indications may not have written”, which means the author of the writing samples does not appear to be the author of the endorsement on the questioned check, there is no overpayment. Treasury sends a claims disposition notice to the agency and the technician will update the record accordingly.

  2. 2. 

    If the QDB analyst affirms their original determination and provides the response that indications may have written, which means the author of the writing samples appears to be the author of the endorsement on the questioned check, an overpayment exists. The technician will resume collection efforts to recover the overpayment. The check payee may still request reconsideration, or waiver, or a different rate of recovery from SSA.

NOTE: Do not waive DCN overpayments under any circumstances before Treasury makes a forgery determination; the $1,000 tolerance does not apply, see GN 02210.150A.4.

Upon completion of Treasury action on the claim for appeal, SSA will issue a reconsideration decision, see GN 02406.310I.

I. SSA may choose to input a C-stop directing Treasury to investigate the status of the original check before issuing a replacement check.

There are two instances where SSA requests Treasury to investigate the status of the original check before issuing a replacement or settlement check.

  1. 1. 

    The beneficiary or recipient is uncertain if they received the payment.

  2. 2. 

    SSA reviewed the record and determined that the individual alleging nonreceipt misused SSA's policy of immediate replacement within the last 24 months.

    NOTE: For more information on C-stops, see GN 02406.150.

If Treasury determines that the original check was not cashed, Treasury will cancel the original check and issue a replacement check.

If Treasury determines that the original check was cashed, Treasury will send the claims package to the check payee for completion. Treasury will take no further action until the beneficiary or recipient returns the completed package.

When the payee returns the completed package, Treasury completes a forgery determination.

  • If Treasury’s response is “indications may not have written” (i.e., forgery is involved), Treasury sends a Claims Disposition Notice (CDN) to SSA and will issue a settlement check.

  • If Treasury’s response is “indications may have written” (i.e., forgery not involved), Treasury sends a CDN to SSA and will not issue a settlement check.

For additional C-stop processing instructions, refer to GN 02406.150.

J. Obtaining status requests

We will make every effort to respond quickly to inquiries about the progress of a forgery determination. For additional information about this process, refer to GN 02406.220B.

K. Electronic funds transfer (EFT) and direct deposit nonreceipt claims

If the wrong routing transit number (RTN) was on the record when SSA released the payment, SSA will promptly replace the payment via the Critical Payment System (CPS) for Title II or by issuing a one-time payment (OTP) for Title XVI. .

If SSA's direct deposit data is correct or if the RTN is correct but the depositor's account number (DAN) is incorrect, Treasury’s TeleTrace unit will contact the financial institution to determine if the payment can be located.

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GN 02406.002 - The Robinson/Reyf Class Action Suit - 04/12/2024
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