TN 29 (01-24)

RS 02650.021 Payments to Beneficiaries in Vietnam

A. Background on payments to beneficiaries in Vietnam

Beginning June 1964, U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) regulations prevented the payment of monthly Social Security benefits to, or on behalf of, beneficiaries in North Vietnam. Beginning May 1975, Treasury added regulations that prevented monthly benefits to, or on behalf of those in South Vietnam.

When Treasury lifted the restrictions on Vietnam in August 1996, the Social Security Administration (SSA) still could not pay unrestricted benefits to beneficiaries in Vietnam. We could not pay benefits because we did not have assurances of free access to claimants and beneficiaries or vital statistics records in Vietnam. Without such assurances, we could only make payments to eligible persons who met and agreed to certain restricted payment conditions. For information on Special Payment Procedures for Certain SSA-Restricted Countries see RS 02650.040A.

In May 2015, we received the necessary assurances of free access in Vietnam from the Vietnamese government through the Department of State and began removing SSA’s restrictions.

B. Policy on current payments to beneficiaries in Vietnam

We can pay current benefits to people in Vietnam who are:

  • U.S. citizens or

  • Non-U.S. citizens who meet an exception to the alien nonpayment provisions (ANP). (For information on Exceptions to Alien Nonpayment see RS 02610.010.)

Vietnamese citizens cannot receive benefits after being outside the United States for more than 6 consecutive calendar months unless they meet another exception to the ANP not based on Vietnamese citizenship.

C. Policy on retroactive payments to Vietnam

If a beneficiary meets all other factors of entitlement and eligibility for the months in question, we can make payments as explained in this section.

1. U.S. citizens

We can pay benefits to U.S. citizens retroactive to the month that we suspended benefits because these beneficiaries went to Vietnam.

2. Non-U.S. citizens

a. Treasury Regulations - Months June 1964 through June 1968

Treasury non-payment regulations on North Vietnam began June 1964 and were still in effect on June 30, 1968. A non-U.S. citizen who had benefits withheld on June 30, 1968 because of these Treasury regulations but was otherwise eligible for them can receive no more than an amount equal to the last 12 months of benefits we could have paid without the Treasury regulations. This means the person can receive no more than the benefits withheld for the months July 1967 through June 1968.

If a beneficiary dies before we can pay benefits, we can only pay any underpayment due for this period to an otherwise qualified claimant who was entitled to benefits on the same record for the month the beneficiary died.

NOTE: If you find we withheld benefits from a non-U.S. citizen for being in Vietnam from June1964 through June 1968, you must refer that case to the Office of Earnings and International Operations, Division of Training and Program Support (DTPS). DTPS will collaborate with the Office of Income Security Programs (OISP) for clarification of instructions depending on the individual case. For instructions on determining eligibility for payment under the ANP, see RS 02650.021D in this section.

b. Treasury Regulations - Months July 1968 through July 1996

If a non-U.S. citizen resided in a country prohibited by Treasury regulation during any month after June 1968, no benefits can be paid for that month.

Treasury regulations prohibited monthly benefit payments to those residing in:

  • North Vietnam from July 1968 through July 1996; and

  • South Vietnam from May 1975 through July 1996.

Non-U.S. citizens cannot accrue benefits for any month they resided in North Vietnam or South Vietnam during these respective periods. This non-accrual restriction also applies to benefits that we would otherwise pay under the ANP for the first 6 calendar months the beneficiary was outside the United States.

c. Months after July 1996

Citizens of Vietnam do not meet an exception to the ANP based on Vietnamese citizenship. However, we can pay:

  • benefits after July 1996 for the first 6 calendar months the beneficiary was outside the United States; and

  • for months after July 1996 if the beneficiary meets another exception to the alien nonpayment provisions not based on Vietnamese citizenship. For information on exceptions to the ANP, see RS 02610.010.

NOTE: Beneficiaries entitled as survivors or dependents may have to meet a 5-year U.S. residence requirement as explained in 5 Year Residency Requirement for Alien Dependents/Survivors Outside the United States RS 02610.025

D. Alien Nonpayment for citizens of Vietnam

We have not made a determination on the status of the Vietnamese social insurance system under the requirements of section 202(t)(2) of the Social Security Act. Once we receive the required information, we will determine if Vietnamese citizens can meet the social insurance, 10-year residence, or 40-quarters-of-coverage exceptions.

NOTE: You must refer to DTPS any case that we withheld payments for months before July 1968 under Treasury regulations. The 1967 amendments affected the ANP. Therefore, the ANP and the exceptions a non-citizen could meet were different prior to July 1968. Before July 1968, a return to the U.S. for any part of one day could interrupt the six month period of absence. In addition, the ANP did not apply the 10 year U.S. residence and 40 quarters of coverage exceptions based on citizenship. These exceptions were not limited and were affordable to any non-U.S. citizen who met the requirements.

E. Process for removing payment restrictions

1. Beneficiary identification for notification and contact

We identified all beneficiaries in Vietnam who were eligible for current or retroactive benefits due to the lifting of the Vietnamese restrictions.

Included in the selection for contact were beneficiaries who:

  • were receiving benefits under the special payment procedures; or

  • had benefits withheld or suspended because they were in Vietnam.

We did not include beneficiaries whose entitlement was terminated due to death.

2. U.S. Foreign Service Post (FSP) action

a. Beneficiaries currently receiving payments in Vietnam

We approved beneficiaries currently receiving benefits in Vietnam under the restricted conditions for payment in RS 02650.040. These beneficiaries were eligible to receive their payments while in Vietnam if they reported to the FSP every 3 months and showed proof of identity and citizenship. We requested the FSP to contact these beneficiaries and take the following actions:

  • verify their continued existence and eligibility for benefits;

  • notify them of the removal of SSA restrictions and special payment conditions in Vietnam;

  • verify their current mailing and residence addresses; and

  • have a face-to-face contact with any beneficiary who did not report to the FSP under the special payment procedure within the past three months, and verify identity and citizenship.

The FSP documents the beneficiary contacts, notifications, and current information on Form SSA-5002 (Report of Contact). Once completed, the FSP sends the SSA-5002 along with any documentation to the Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) in Manila. The FBU scans the SSA-5002 and any documentation into the Evidence Portal (EP). The FBU forwards the material via paperless to the Division of International Operations (DIO).

b. Beneficiaries suspended (LAF–SL) for being in Vietnam

We require a face-to-face contact to determine eligibility for beneficiaries whose benefits we withheld for being in Vietnam. We requested the FSP to contact each of these beneficiaries, including those requiring a representative payee. For a new payee appointment, we require the completion of Form SSA-11–BK (Request to be Selected as Payee). SSA resolves other payee issues using current rep payee procedures.

These cases require the following actions.

  1. 1. 

    Beneficiary notification and contact

    The FSP notifies the suspended beneficiaries of the removal of restrictions and the need to determine payment eligibility. The FSP also obtains current address and residence information. The FSP documents all of these actions on a Form SSA-5002.

  2. 2. 

    Eligibility documentation and required forms

    A suspended beneficiary requires a face-to-face interview to determine eligibility for payment. Before we can pay benefits, the beneficiary must establish:

    • their identity with a representative of the FSP;

    • that no termination or deduction events have occurred during the retroactive period; and

    • their eligibility to receive current benefits.

    The beneficiary or representative payee should complete and sign the following forms. NOTE: Be sure to obtain information to document eligibility for the entire retroactive period and not just for the period specified in the forms. Put the additional information on a Form SSA-795 (Statement Of Claimant Or Other Person).

    • Form SSA-21 (Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States); and

    • Form SSA-7162-OCR-SM (Report to SSA) or Form SSA-7161-OCR-SM (Report to SSA by Person Receiving Benefits for a Child or Incapable Adult).

The FSP sends all completed forms and documentation to the FBU in Manila. The FBU scans these completed forms and documentation into EP, and sends them via paperless to DIO.

c. FSP is unable to contact beneficiary

The FSP documents all unsuccessful attempts to contact a beneficiary on the Form SSA-5002. The FSP sends the SSA-5002 and any additional documentation showing attempts to locate or contact the beneficiary to the FBU. The FBU scans the SSA-5002 and any additional documentation into EP, and forwards the material via paperless to DIO.

d. Report of death of the beneficiary

The FSP documents a report of death on the Form SSA-5002, and develops for proof of death.

3. DIO action on receipt of material from FSP

DIO reviews the material from the FSP and determines if the beneficiary is eligible for payment. As appropriate, DIO takes action to:

  • resume benefits and release any retroactive payments if the beneficiary is eligible;

  • update the master beneficiary record (MBR) data with current information including the mailing address, and the residence address if it is different than the mailing address;

  • ensure copies of documentation and evidence are in the beneficiary’s electronic file; and

  • initiate any required additional development.

If the material from the FSP shows that they were unsuccessful in their attempt to contact the beneficiary, DIO should review the file to determine if there is a better address to make contact. DIO should process these cases based on the Whereabouts Unknown instructions in GN 02602.320.

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RS 02650.021 - Payments to Beneficiaries in Vietnam - 01/08/2024
Batch run: 01/08/2024