TN 17 (05-16)
RS 02650.040 Special Payment Policy and Procedure for SSA Restricted Countries
A. Background for SSA restricted countries
Generally, SSA does not make payments to beneficiaries in SSA restricted countries because we do not have written assurances of free access to persons and to their vital statistics records in those countries. SSA continues to pursue these assurances from the appropriate foreign government officials through the U.S. Department of State (DOS).
In an effort to ensure the integrity of our benefit payments without the necessary assurances of access, SSA has implemented a special payment policy with DOS. This special payment policy allows us to make restricted payments to certain qualified persons while they are in these countries.
B. List of SSA restricted countries
The special payment policy and procedures apply to persons in the following countries:
C. Special payment policy for SSA restricted countries
The special payment policy allows payment to otherwise eligible persons in one of the countries shown in RS 02650.040B of this section, but only under restricted conditions. The lack of free access in these countries only allows payment to persons who can visit a Foreign Service Post (FSP) in the country or a Federal Benefits Unit (FBU) in their service area every six months to have their existence and eligibility verified. In addition, the lack of access ordinarily limits payment to beneficiaries who can handle their own benefits. However, the special payment policy provides that certain representative payees may qualify to receive payment on behalf of a qualified beneficiary in an SSA restricted country. See RS 02650.040D.1 in this section.
Beneficiaries and representative payees may qualify to receive payments if:
They meet and agree to the restricted conditions for payment shown in RS 02650.040D in this section;
The FSP or FBU responsible for providing U.S. consular services in the beneficiary’s area agrees to follow the procedure in RS 02650.040E.2 of this section. This includes handling the every six-month visit to the FSP or FBU and notifying SSA promptly of any events that could affect benefit payments (including failure to appear personally at the FSP or FBU every six months); and
The Office of International Programs (OIP) approves the special payment.
The continuance of the special payment depends on compliance with these requirements for payment. It also depends on the ability of the FSPs or FBUs to handle the workloads and to notify SSA promptly of events that affect payments.
D. Restricted conditions for special payment qualification
1. Qualified representative payee for beneficiary in an SSA restricted country
We do not ordinarily pay benefits to a representative payee on behalf of a beneficiary in an SSA restricted country. However, a representative payee may qualify for payment on behalf of a minor or adult qualified beneficiary if:
SSA approves the representative payee to act on the beneficiary’s behalf; and
the beneficiary and the representative payee both reside in the same SSA restricted country; and
the representative payee and the beneficiary both visit the FSP or FBU every six months.
NOTE: The policy to allow special payment to certain qualified representative payees applies to those already selected as payees and those currently filing as representative payees. Those filing to be representative payees must complete an SSA-11-BK (Request to be Selected as Payee) and satisfy all other necessary representative payee requirements for selection and payment. For developing and determining capability see GN 00502.020 through GN 00502.070. For special considerations for foreign claims, see GN 00505.010 and GN 00505.020.
2. Monthly benefit payments
A qualified beneficiary or qualified representative payee may receive monthly payments (by check or direct deposit) while in one of the SSA restricted countries if he or she agrees to the following restricted conditions for payment:
The beneficiary (and qualified representative payee) must (both) appear personally at the FSP or FBU every six months and show proof of identity. If we pay the person by check, the FSP or FBU can hold the checks until the six-month visit, or the beneficiary (or representative payee) may pick up the checks monthly. The FSP or FBU will not mail checks or give them to anyone other than the beneficiary or qualified representative payee.
Failure to appear personally at the FSP or FBU within six months will cause benefit payments to stop. The FSP or FBU will notify SSA promptly if the beneficiary or representative payee fails to comply with the six-month visit requirement. The FSP or FBU will return any undelivered checks to the Treasury Department. SSA will stop direct deposit payments. SSA will not resume payments until the absent person(s) appear(s) personally at the FSP or FBU and establish(es) continuing eligibility for benefits.
The beneficiary (or qualified representative payee) must notify the FSP or FBU promptly of any change of address or change in citizenship of the beneficiary.
The family or estate of the beneficiary (or qualified representative payee) must notify the FSP or FBU promptly if the beneficiary dies.
The beneficiary’s family or estate must notify the FSP or FBU promptly if the beneficiary becomes unable to handle his or her own benefits.
Benefits will stop if a beneficiary receiving payments becomes unable to manage his or her own benefits. We will not make payments through a representative payee except for those meeting the conditions in RS 02650.040D.1 of this section.
3. Lump-sum death payment
A qualified person may receive the lump-sum death payment (LSDP) by check while in one of the SSA restricted countries if the person:
meets all factors of entitlement and eligibility for the LSDP; and
visits the FSP or FBU to receive payment, provides proof of identity, and signs for the check’s receipt.
E. Special payment procedure for SSA restricted countries
1. SSA procedure – beneficiary or representative payee contacts SSA
When a beneficiary or representative payee contacts SSA and asks whether we can make payments to a person in an SSA restricted country, explain that SSA does not routinely make payments to persons in these countries. However, we can make payments under the special payment policy to persons who meet and agree to the restricted conditions for payment in these countries. Be sure to use the following checklist when answering inquiries about making payments to persons in these countries.
Explain the special payment procedure and restricted payment conditions.
Tell such persons that if they believe they will qualify for payment on their own or another’s behalf, they should contact the nearest FSP or FBU when they move to an SSA restricted country. At that time, they should tell the FSP or FBU that they want to receive Social Security benefits while in that country. The FSP or FBU will verify the identity of the beneficiary (and representative payee applicant) and the beneficiary’s citizenship. The FSP or FBU will help them complete the necessary documentation. (You will find a list of FSPs and FBUs at http://www.usembassy.gov/.)
Do not tell the beneficiaries or representative payees whether we will pay or not pay their benefits in that country. Advise the person that we will make a decision on qualification for special payment after we receive the appropriate documentation from the FSP or FBU.
In considering whether a beneficiary will be eligible for benefits outside the United States, be sure to consider the applicability of the alien nonpayment provisions (ANP), as explained in RS 02610.000. If a non-U.S. citizen does not meet an exception to the ANP, benefit payments will stop with the 7th month of absence from the United States.
NOTE: Citizens of any of the SSA restricted countries cannot meet an exception to the ANP based on their citizenship. As shown in RS 02610.015C, citizens of the countries listed in RS 02650.040B in this section cannot meet the social insurance (exception code 6), treaty (exception code 5) or the 10 years/40 credits (exception codes 3 and 4) exception to the alien nonpayment provisions.
2. FSP/FBU procedure – beneficiary or representative payee contacts FSP/FBU
Every person who moves to an SSA restricted country and wants to receive benefits in that country must contact the FSP in that country or an FBU in their service area to request payment.
The FSP or FBU will take the following steps:
Interview the beneficiary or representative payee with the beneficiary, and explain the restricted conditions for payment.
Obtain current proof of the beneficiary’s citizenship.
Prepare a statement(s) for SSA showing that the FSP or FBU explained the restricted payment conditions and the person understands and agrees to them. The statement must also include the following information and any other information applicable to that specific case:
The Social Security Number and name of the beneficiary (and qualified representative payee), and the current residence address(es) in that country;
The beneficiary (or qualified representative payee) wants to receive monthly benefits while living in that country. The person may request payment by check or by direct deposit;
The beneficiary (and qualified representative payee) (both) appeared in person at the FSP or FBU and submitted evidence of identity and evidence of the beneficiary’s citizenship. If the beneficiary is a U.S. citizen, a current U.S. passport was submitted; and
The FSP or FBU has verified the beneficiary’s current citizenship.
The FSP or FBU will assist the person in completing a Form SSA-21 (Supplement to Claim of Person Outside the United States).
NOTE: A completed and signed Form SSA-21 (Supplement to Claim of Person Outside The United States) is required even if the person completed an iClaim application.
If the person visits the FSP, the FSP will send a copy of the statement, the Form SSA-21, copies of proofs, and any other documents submitted by the beneficiary or representative payee to the FBU, which will forward these documents to a designated analyst in the Division of International Operations (DIO), Office of Earnings and International Operations (OEIO).
If the person visits the FBU, the FBU will send the items listed above to DIO, OEIO.
3. DIO procedure – receipt of special payment requests
DIO forwards the request for special payment with the documentation to OIP for a decision. OIP reviews the material and advises DIO whether the beneficiary, and any representative payee, is qualified to receive payment in the restricted country. OIP also notifies DIO if a person is not qualified to receive payment or if OIP requires additional information to make a decision. OIP keeps a record of all requests it receives and the action taken.
If OIP approves qualification for payment, DIO:
enters the approval on the Master Beneficiary Record (MBR) according to instructions in MSOM COMMON 005.006, and
enters the FSP address as the beneficiary’s mailing address on the MBR, and
places the beneficiary’s actual residence address in a Special Message field.
NOTE: All SSA mail goes to the FSP address on the MBR. This includes the annual Foreign Enforcement Questionnaire (FEQ). It is important that the FEQ be completed and returned timely to SSA in the envelope provided so that benefits are not affected. For more information about the FEQ, see RS 02655.001 through RS 02655.010.
As explained in RS 02650.020D.2 of this section, if a qualified beneficiary or qualified representative payee does not comply with the six-month FSP or FBU visit requirements, payments will stop. The FSP or FBU will return any checks to the Treasury Department. If payments are by direct deposit, the FSP or FBU will notify SSA and DIO will stop the payments. Payments will not resume until the qualified beneficiary and any qualified representative payee visit the FSP or FBU and show continuing eligibility to payments.