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Income Withholding and Medical Support for Social Security Beneficiaries – Answers to States’ Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Published: February 25, 2015
Information About:
State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Employer Responsibilities, Income/Wage Withholding, National Medical Support Notice
Types:
FAQs

  1. How do I determine whether a noncustodial parent (NCP) is receiving Social Security benefits?
  2. What information is available through the SVES?
  3. Where do I send an IWO form to attach benefits payments from SSA?
  4. What happens when the NCP’s SSA claim is pending?
  5. What is the process for garnishing lump sum payments from SSA?
  6. Do I send the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) to SSA for a beneficiary who is required to provide health insurance for their child(ren)?
  7. Where do I send an IWO termination for SSA benefits?

How do I determine whether a noncustodial parent (NCP) is receiving Social Security benefits?

You may obtain information about an NCP's Social Security benefits by using the State Verification and Exchange System (SVES) or through an external locate request from the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS).

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What information is available through the SVES?

SVES provides the following:

  • Title II or Federal Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Benefits.  Title II responses contain information regarding disability income and SSA benefits, which may be used to initiate income withholding orders (IWOs).
  • Title XVI or Supplemental Security Income for the Aged, Blind and Disabled.  Title XVI benefits cannot be garnished for child support, but may include helpful information for review and modification purposes. 

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Where do I send an IWO form to attach benefits payments from SSA?

Send the IWO to your local SSA office to enter into the Court Order Garnishment System (COGS).  If SSA is participating in e-IWO with your state, you should send the IWO electronically through the e-IWO process.

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What happens when the NCP’s SSA claim is pending?

If the NCP’s disability claim is pending and there are no current payments, the IWO remains in COGS until SSA makes a decision about the NCP’s claim.  If the IWO has been in the COGS for more than a year, SSA will first verify that the IWO is still valid before remitting any payments.

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What is the process for garnishing lump sum payments from SSA?

If a one-time only IWO for a lump sum is on file at SSA, they hold any lump sum payments of more than $500 as described below.

  • If the IWO provides specific instructions for handling lump sum payments and there is only one child support order associated with a social security number, SSA follows those instructions, automatically withholds up to the Consumer Credit Protection Act or state limit and sends the remainder to the beneficiary.
  • If the IWO does not provide instructions regarding the attachment of lump sum payments or there are multiple child support orders associated with a social security number, SSA payment center staff receive an alert to contact the state agency(ies) for instructions about how to process the IWO.
NOTE: When SSA is ready to release a retroactive benefit and needs to contact the state child support agency, they will hold the lump sum payment and suspend ongoing payments to the beneficiary until they reach the state agency. It is critical that SSA payment center staff reach the child support agency in a timely manner to receive a response about attaching the lump sum payment.

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Do I send the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) to SSA for a beneficiary who is required to provide health insurance for their child(ren)?

No, you should not send the NMSN to SSA because it does not provide medical insurance for beneficiaries.

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Where do I send an IWO termination for SSA benefits?

You should send the termination of the IWO to your local SSA office.