TN 115 (07-23)

GN 00204.004 Considering Possible Entitlement to Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB) when a Claimant Files an Application for Spouse’s Benefits

A. Policy for considering entitlement to other benefits

An application under Title II covers all classes of Title II benefits described in sections 202(a) through 202(l) and 223 of the Social Security Act for which the claimant is eligible. Also, a claimant may be "deemed" to have filed an application for both RIB and spouse's benefits when eligibility for both benefits exists (see GN 00204.035). Therefore, we must explore entitlement to RIB whenever a claimant files an application for spouse’s benefits.

When you take an application, the Modernized Claims System (MCS) performs various checks against information contained in our records to verify the identity of the claimant and to determine if they meet all entitlement factors. After you make a formal initial determination, the claimant receives a notice that includes appeal rights. All of these safeguards protect the claimant's rights to benefits. Therefore, you must obtain and review a certified earnings record (e.g., Informational/Certified Earnings Record System or ICERS) to determine insured status (I/S).

B. Determining eligibility for RIB

When a claimant files an application for spouse's benefits, take one of the following actions to determine whether eligibility for RIB exists:

  • Take the RIB application; or

  • Obtain a certified earnings record (E/R) on the claimant's own SSN. See the types of certified earnings records listed in GN 01010.009A.1.

The scope of the application policy does not require routinely taking a RIB application when a claimant files an application for spouse’s benefits; nor does it provide for informal disallowances for Title II applications. A claimant, with a date of birth prior to January 2, 1954, may restrict the application to exclude RIB if they are full retirement age (FRA) or older. However, always take a RIB application when deemed filing applies. For the deemed filing policy, see GN 00204.035.

C. Taking the RIB application

Take the RIB application and process it using normal procedures when eligibility to RIB is questionable or extensive earnings development is required to determine entitlement.

D. Obtaining and documenting a certified E/R

You must obtain and review a certified E/R with the claimant to determine I/S per GN 01010.009. When using the Earnings Computation (EC) screens via MCS follow the instructions in GN 00204.004E in this section.

1. Information to consider when determining I/S

When determining if a claimant meets I/S, be sure to:

  • Consider lag earnings, Military Service (MS), and Railroad (RR) quarters of coverage (QC);

  • Review the Earnings Alert Query (EARQ) alerts per RS 01404.110; and

  • Obtain pre-1956 earnings information (if needed) via the system through the Office of Earnings Operation (OEO) when using a certified E/R. For RIB applications, use MCS to request OEO feedback to determine the number of pre-1956 QCs.

2. Insured status not met and RIB application filed

Effectuate the RIB application as a denial. Follow the documentation policy for MCS claims in GN 01010.009.

3. Insured status not met and no RIB application filed

Develop and effectuate the spouse’s application. Document the insured status determination on the spouse's application using the Report of Contact (RPOC) screen in MCS with the following information:

  • The type of certified E/R reviewed and the date it was obtained;

  • Information about lag earnings, MS credits, etc.; and

  • The number of QCs shown on the certified E/R.

Request paragraph CLOR20 - Auxiliary Claimant Not Insured On Own Record by coding the Notice 3 (NOT3) screen.

E. Using EC screens to determine I/S

When taking a RIB application, use the EC screens to determine I/S. Information on I/S is located on the Insured Status (DEI1) and Yearly Earnings Data (DEIE) screens. For detailed information on requesting an earnings comp preadjudicative request, see MCSEC 001.004. For additional policy and procedures for using MCS adjudicative earnings computation screens, see GN 01010.009.

F. References

  • SM 00349.001 ICERS—Background/Introduction through

  • SM 00349.405 Feedback and Scouting Requests Follow-Ups

  • NL 00725.005 List of MCS paragraphs

  • GN 02409.100 Voluntary Suspension

  • SM 03020.250 Voluntary Delayed Retirement Credits

  • GN 00204.035 Deemed Filing

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GN 00204.004 - Considering Possible Entitlement to Retirement Insurance Benefits (RIB) when a Claimant Files an Application for Spouse’s Benefits - 07/14/2023
Batch run: 07/14/2023