TN 61 (09-21)

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

 


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200502117
GN 00502.117 - Verifying Information Provided by a Payee or Payee Applicant - 04/14/2014
Batch run: 09/17/2021
Rev:04/14/2014