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Legal Authority for Conducting the Information Comparison with State Workers' Compensation Agencies

Published: June 6, 2012
Information About:
Other Private Partners, Insurance Companies, State/Local Child Support Agencies
Topics:
Federal Systems, Insurance Match
Types:
Guides/Publications/Reports, Policy, Statutes/Legislation

Title IV, Part D, of the Social Security Act provides the legal authority for the comparison of information maintained by state workers compensation agencies and information reported by state child support agencies to the Debtor File maintained by OCSE. The legal authority is based upon the provisions of the Social Security Act requiring OCSE to operate the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) and the provisions requiring each state to have in effect laws requiring the use of specified procedures to increase the effectiveness of the child support program administered by the state. 42 U.S.C. §§ 654(20) and 666(a).

OCSE operates the FPLS established by section 453 of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 652(a)(9) and 653(a)(1). In pertinent part, the Social Security Act provides that, for the purpose of enforcing child support obligations, the FPLS shall obtain and transmit to any “authorized person” information on or facilitating the location of any individual who is under an obligation to pay child support and information on the individual's wages (or other income) from, and benefits of, employment. 42 U.S.C. § 653(a)(2)(A)(i) and (B).

The term "authorized person" includes a state IV-D child support agency. The Social Security Act defines “authorized person” as “any agent or attorney of any state having in effect an approved state IV-D plan who has the duty or authority under the plan to seek to recover any amounts owed as child support.” 42 U.S.C. § 653(c)(1)(A).

The Social Security Act further provides that upon request of a state IV-D child support agency for information on or facilitating the location of any individual who is under an obligation to pay child support and information on the individual's wages (or other income) from, and benefits of, employment, OCSE shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, provide through the FPLS such information to such agency if the information is contained in any files or records maintained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. 42 U.S.C. § 653(b)(1)(A).

If the information is not contained in such files or records, but can be obtained by the Secretary, under the authority conferred by subsection 453(e) of the Social Security Act, from any other department, agency or instrumentality of the United States, or of any state, and is not prohibited from disclosure under paragraph 453(b)(2), the Secretary shall provide through the FPLS such information to state child support enforcement agencies. 42 U.S.C. § 653(b)(1)(B) and (e)(1) and (2).

In summary, upon request by a state IV-D child support agency for information about an individual under an obligation to pay child support, OCSE shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, obtain and transmit to the state IV-D child support agency specified information about the individual including information on the individual's wages, or other income from, and benefits of, employment. Workers' compensation payable by a state constitutes both income and a benefit of employment. 42 U.S.C. §§ 653(a)(2)(B) and 666(b)(8).

Required State Laws and Procedures

The Social Security Act also provides that each state must enact certain laws requiring the use of specified procedures. Thus, each state's IV-D plan must provide, to the extent required by section 466 of the Social Security Act, that the state shall have in effect all of the laws to improve child support enforcement effectiveness which are referred to in section 466 and shall implement the procedures prescribed pursuant to such laws. 42 U.S.C. § 654(20).

Several provisions of section 466 of the Social Security Act provide additional legal authority for the comparison of information maintained by state workers' compensation agencies and information in the Debtor File maintained by OCSE. First, each state must have in effect laws and procedures for the withholding from income of amounts payable as support in IV-D child support cases. 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(1)(A). For purposes of this requirement, the term “income” means any periodic form of payment due to an individual, including workers' compensation. 42 U.S.C. § 666(b)(8). See also 42 U.S.C. § 666(a)(4) and (9) and (c)(1)(F).

Second, in cases in which there is an arrearage, the required procedures include actions to secure assets to satisfy any current support obligation and the arrearage. The procedures must include administrative actions to intercept or seize periodic or lump sum payments from a state or local agency, including workers' compensation. 42 U.S.C. § 666(c)(1)(G)(i)(I).

Third, the required procedures for withholding from income of amounts payable as support shall provide that the state must extend its withholding system to include withholding from income derived within the state in cases where support orders were issued in other states. The purpose of this requirement is to assure that child support owed by a noncustodial parent in the state or any another state will be collected without regard to the residence of the child or the child's custodial parent. 42 U.S.C. § 666(b)(9).

In summary, the Social Security Act requires OCSE to operate the FPLS and provides that each state must have laws requiring procedures pursuant to which a state must collect both current child support and past-due child support from periodic and lump-sum workers' compensation payments.