DATE: June 25, 2018
TO: State IV-D Directors
FROM: Scott M. Lekan, Commissioner, Office of Child Support Enforcement
SUBJECT: Concurrent SSI and SSDI or Concurrent SSI and SSR Benefits
OCSE received inquiries regarding garnishment of concurrent Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Social Security Retirement (SSR).
Question 1: May a state close a case for a noncustodial parent receiving concurrent SSI/SSR?
Answer 1: Yes, § 303.11(b)(9)(ii) permits the state to close a case when the noncustodial parent (NCP) is a recipient of SSI and concurrent SSDI benefits. When the NCP reaches full retirement age, the SSDI portion converts to SSR benefits. Concurrent SSI/SSDI and SSI/SSR recipients qualify for such benefits because they meet the SSI program’s low-income means-tested criteria. The rationale for the closure of SSI/SSDI cases may be applied to SSI/SSR cases. A concurrent SSI and SSR beneficiary has no more income and is no better off than a concurrent SSI and SSDI beneficiary.
Question 2: Is a state precluded from garnishing concurrent SSI/SSR benefits under § 307.11(c)(3)?
Answer 2: Yes, § 307.11(c)(3)(i) requires states to automate procedures to avoid garnishing SSI or concurrent SSI and SSDI payments or concurrent SSI and SSR benefits under title II. As discussed in Answer 1, concurrent SSI/SSDI and SSI/SSR recipients qualify for such benefits because they meet the SSI program’s low-income means-tested criteria. Therefore, the state should not garnish these concurrent benefits.
Question 3: May a state send an IWO to SSA to withhold from the SSDI or SSR portion of a concurrent SSI/SSDI or SSI/SSR benefit?
Answer 3: No, the benefits under title II of the Social Security Act outlined below should not be garnished from the NCP’s financial account or through an income withholding order:
A recipient receives concurrent SSI and either SSDI or SSR benefits under title II when a disabled NCP qualifies for the means-tested SSI benefit on the basis of his or her income and assets, but also qualifies for the SSDI or SSR benefits because of employment credits. Given that the NCP is eligible for concurrent benefits, meets the SSI means-tested criteria, and receives the same benefit amount as a SSI beneficiary, the state should not garnish the SSDI or the SSR portion of the benefit through an income withholding order or from the NCP’s financial account. However, if a NCP only receives an SSDI or SSR benefit, the state may continue to garnish these benefits.
Additionally, if the state is unable to obtain information regarding concurrent SSI/SSDI or SSI and SSR benefits in advance and inappropriately garnishes the NCP benefits, the system must return these funds to the NCP within 5 business days after the child support agency determines that SSI payments, concurrent SSI payments and SSDI benefits, or concurrent SSI and SSR benefits have been incorrectly garnished in accordance with § 307.11(c)(3)(ii).
REFERENCES: DCL-00-103 and DCL-13-06
INQUIRIES: If you have questions, please contact your OCSE Regional Office.