SSA’s Court Order Garnishment System
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
DATE: December 6, 2006
TO: STATE IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: SSA’s Court Order Garnishment System
I am pleased to share some good news regarding improvements the Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented that have proven beneficial to its agency and the Child Support Enforcement program.
On March 7, 2006, SSA implemented a new garnishment system, COGS (the Court Order Garnishment System), to respond to income withholding orders from child support agencies. As of October 20, COGS had processed 48,545 new orders, 17,923 terminations, and more than 60,000 changes to existing orders.
Just for the month of October, COGS processed millions of dollars in collections from withholdings. This included 204,032 checks totaling more than $29.3 million sent to several State Disbursement Units, and 10,845 checks totaling more than $1.9 million sent to individuals and courts. During this same time period, SSA attached 1,190 lump sum payments, resulting in an additional $1.9 million to children and families.
In its efforts to improve the processing of child support payments, SSA has been working with States to send child support payments via electronic funds transfer (EFT). For October, SSA submitted almost $1.6 million in payments via EFT to Illinois and Michigan. SSA is collaborating with 18 other States to begin converting payments to EFT and hopes to work with more States in the near future.
From SSA's State Verification and Exchange System (SVES), the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) provides information to States on Title II benefits, Black Lung benefits, and Railroad Retirement benefits. States use this information to issue income withholding orders. SSA also provides a valuable resource to State Child Support Enforcement agencies by identifying non-custodial parents who are receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. While SSI benefits cannot be garnished, like all SVES data, it includes reliable address information to help States locate an NCP and provides States with a lead for referring families to SSA to determine entitlement benefits for a child.
If your State is not using the SVES data through the FPLS, I encourage you to consider this as a valuable tool to increase collections. If you have questions about SVES, contact your State Technical Support Liaison for more information.
If your State is experiencing a problem affecting the timely processing of a child support payment because of COGS, SSA has asked that you first contact its Field Office for assistance. Should the problem continue without quick resolution, you can notify the Office of Child Support Enforcement through email at SSACOGSissues@acf.hhs.gov.
I applaud SSA for their hard work to deliver immediate benefits and cost savings to the Child Support Enforcement program. I am excited about our partnership with SSA and look forward to our continued collaboration on behalf of our nation’s children.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: Regional Program Managers
ACF Regional Administrators