TN 15 (12-15)
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 certain 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 applies to persons in the following countries.
C. Special payment policy for SSA restricted countries
The special payment policy allows payment to otherwise eligible persons who meet the requirements for and agree to certain restricted payment conditions while in an SSA restricted country. The lack of free access limits payment to beneficiaries who can visit a Foreign Service Post (FSP) in the country every three months to have their existence and eligibility verified. In addition, the lack of access generally limits payment to beneficiaries who can handle their own benefits. However, certain representative payees may qualify to receive payments for a qualified child beneficiary in their custody. See RS 02650.040D.1.
Under the special payment policy, certain beneficiaries and representative payees may qualify to receive payments in one of the SSA restricted countries shown in RS 02650.040B if:
They meet and agree to the restricted conditions for payment shown in RS 02650.040D;
The FSP with responsibility 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 beneficiary’s three-month visit to the FSP and notifying SSA promptly of any events that could affect the payment of benefits (including failure to appear personally at the FSP every three months); and
The Office of International Programs (OIP) approves the special payment.
The continuance of the special payment depends on compliance with the restricted conditions for payment. It is also dependent on the ability of the FSPs to handle the workloads and to notify SSA promptly of events that affect payments.
D. Restricted conditions for payment qualification
1. Qualified representative payee for minor or disabled adult child
We do not ordinarily pay benefits to representative payees in an SSA restricted country. However, a child beneficiary, whether a minor or adult disabled child may qualify for payment through a qualified payee if:
the child is living with a custodial parent in the SSA restricted country; and
the custodial parent is appointed to act as the child’s representative payee; and
the custodial representative payee parent and the child beneficiary both visit the FSP every three months.
NOTE: The policy to allow restricted payment to certain qualified parent 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 and satisfy all other necessary representative payee requirements for selection and payment. For developing capability of the child, see 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 any qualified representative payee) must appear personally at the FSP every three months and show proof of identity. If we pay the person by check, the FSP can hold the checks until the three-month visit, or the beneficiary or representative payee may pick up the checks monthly. The FSP will not mail checks or give them to anyone other than the beneficiary or qualified representative payee.
Failure to appear personally at the FSP within three months will cause benefit payments to stop. The FSP will notify SSA promptly if the beneficiary or representative payee fails to comply with the three- month visit requirement. The FSP 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 and establish(es) continuing eligibility for benefits.
The beneficiary (or qualified representative payee) must notify the FSP promptly of any change of address or change in citizenship of the qualified beneficiary.
The family or estate of the beneficiary (or any qualified representative payee receiving benefits for a qualified child) must notify the FSP promptly if the beneficiary dies.
The family or estate of a qualified adult beneficiary must notify the FSP promptly if the beneficiary becomes unable to handle his or her own benefits.
Benefits will stop if a qualified adult beneficiary becomes unable to manage his or her own benefits. We will not make payments through a representative payee except for a qualified parent representative payee on behalf of a qualified child beneficiary as described in RS 02650.040D.1.
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 country if the person:
meets all factors of entitlement and eligibility for the LSDP; and
visits the FSP 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, they should contact the nearest FSP when they move to an SSA restricted country. At that time, they should tell the FSP that they want to receive Social Security benefits while in that country. The FSP will verify identify and citizenship and help them complete the necessary documentation. (You will find a list of FSPs 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.
In considering whether a beneficiary will be eligible for benefits outside the U.S., 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 02650.040A 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 procedure – beneficiary or representative payee contacts FSP
Every person who moves to an SSA restricted country and wants to receive benefits in that country must contact the nearest FSP in that country to request payment.
The FSP 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 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 SSN and name of the beneficiary and qualified representative payee, if any, and the current residence address 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, if any, appeared in person at the FSP and submitted evidence of identity and the beneficiary’s citizenship. If the beneficiary is a U.S. citizen, a current U.S. passport was submitted; and
The FSP has verified the beneficiary’s current citizenship.
The FSP 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 is required even if the person completed an iClaim application.
Send a copy of the statement, the Form SSA-21, copies of proofs, and any other documents submitted by the beneficiary or parent representative payee to the Regional Federal Benefits Unit (FBU). The FBU will forward these documents to a designated analyst in the Division of International Operations (DIO), Office of Earnings International Operations.
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). See MSOM COMMON 005.006. DIO also enters the FSP address as the beneficiary’s address on the MBR, and enters the beneficiary’s actual residence address in a Special Message field.
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. See RS 02655.001 through RS 02655.010 for more information about the FEQ.
As explained in RS 02650.020D.2, if a qualified beneficiary or qualified representative payee does not comply with the three-month FSP visit requirements, payments will stop. The FSP will return any checks to the Treasury Department. If payments are by direct deposit, the FSP 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 and show continuing eligibility to payments.