SSA Requests for Information from State Case Registries


Publication Date: June 27, 2001

Department of Health and Human Services
Administration for Children & Families
Office of Child Support Enforcement


DATE:    June 27, 2001
TO:        State IV-D Directors
FROM:  Frank Fuentes
              Acting Commissioner
              Office of Child Support Enforcement

SUBJECT: SSA Requests for Information from State Case Registries

The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has received several inquiries from State IV-D agencies regarding access by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to payment records maintained in the State Case Registry (SCR) for the purpose of determining eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or calculating SSI benefit amounts. Child support received by an applicant or recipient of SSI is countable as unearned income for these purposes (sec. 1612(a)(2)(E) of the Social Security Act).

Although several provisions of the Social Security Act (Act) are pertinent to this issue, none of them authorize a State IV-D agency to provide SSA with payment records from the SCR for the purpose of determining eligibility for SSI or calculating SSI benefit amounts. These statutory provisions are discussed below.

In general, section 454(26) of the Act requires States to have in effect safeguards that are designed to protect the privacy rights of the persons involved in child support cases, including safeguards against the unauthorized use or disclosure of information relating to actions to enforce support.

The SCR is an integral part of the Statewide child support enforcement automated system and contains payment records for IV-D cases in which a child support order has been established (sec. 454A(e)(1) and (4) of the Act). The statutory provisions governing the automated system require State IV-D agencies to have in effect specified safeguards designed to protect data in the system (sec. 454A(d) of the Act). Except as otherwise provided, the State must have policies restricting access to and use of data only to the extent necessary to carry out the IV-D program (sec. 454A(d)(1)(A) of the Act). The Act also requires the State to use the automated system to conduct specified information comparison and disclosure activities (sec. 454A(f) of the Act). However, that provision does not authorize the IV-D agency to use the automated system to provide data to SSA.

In addition, the Act grants a State agency administering a program specified in sec. 1137(b) access to certain information reported by employers to the State Directory of New Hires (SDNH) to verify eligibility for those programs (sec. 453A(h)(2) of the Act). Section 453A(h)(2) of the Act, however, relates to access to data maintained in the SDNH. It does not relate to child support payment records maintained in the SCR. Thus, current statutory provisions governing the SDNH and States’ income and eligibility verification systems provide no legal basis for granting SSA access to payment records in the SCR.

OCSE recognizes that data maintained by the IV-D program may be useful in the administration of the SSI program. Relying upon current provisions of the Act granting SSA access to information in the National Directory of New Hires (NDNH), OCSE and SSA have worked together to grant SSA real-time query access to the NDNH for SSI eligibility purposes (sec. 453(j)(4) of the Act).

I hope this information is helpful. As always, thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of America's children.

cc: ACF Regional Administrators
Regional Program Managers

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