Overview of the Administrative Offset Program
Administrative Offset allows for the interception of certain federal payments in order to collect past-due child support. Based on the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) of 1996, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), through the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) of the Department of the Treasury, manages the process in conjunction with the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program.
See the Executive Order 13019 "Supporting Families: Collecting Delinquent Child Support Obligations", September 28, 1996.
Unlike Federal Tax Refund Offset, a program that state child support agencies must participate in, the Administrative Offset Program is an optional enforcement remedy.
What kinds of federal payments can the Administrative Offset Program intercept?
The DCIA made various types of recurring and one-time payments available for Administrative Offset, including payments to private vendors who perform work for a government agency, federal retirement payments, and relocation and travel reimbursements owed to federal employees.
The DCIA and federal regulations made some payments ineligible for this program, including Veterans Affairs disability benefits, federal student loans, some Social Security payments, Railroad Retirement payments, Black Lung benefits, and payments made under certain programs based on financial need, such as Supplemental Security Income.
How does the Administrative Offset Program work?
The DCIA makes a case eligible for an Administrative Offset when the noncustodial parent owes at least $25 and is at least 30 days delinquent in their child support payments. OCSE or the local child support agency will notify persons who qualify for Administrative Offset via a Pre-Offset Notice. The Pre-Offset Notice includes information about the Federal Tax Refund Offset and Passport Denial programs, as well as information about how to contest the debt amount.
States use the same process to submit cases to the Administrative Offset Program as they do for the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. Through OCSE, when BFS matches the record of a person who owes support debt with the record of a federal payee, it will seize the amount and transmit it to the state. BFS will also send a notice to the noncustodial parent explaining the type of offset that occurred, and then refer the parent to the appropriate local child support agency for further information.