April 10 and April 12, 2007
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.
Purpose of the Call
On April 10 and April 12, 2007, the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) facilitated conference calls with States to discuss how State Verification and Exchange System (SVES) information is being used in State systems. The meetings’s discussion topics included:
- Background on the SVES external locate
- Elimination of legacy SSA records
- State success stories for using/automating the data — Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota
- SVES Print Program
- SVES Proactive Matching
- Bureau of Prisons
- Planned Match with the Pending Application file
The SVES data match began in May 2002 with FPLS Minor Release 02-01. Documentation for SVES, including the manifest and record specifications, can be found on the OCSE web site. With this release, States gained automated access to Title II (SSA benefits), Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Prisoner data.
Elimination of legacy SSA records
OCSE is considering discontinuing processing of “legacy” SSA external locate requests. Currently, there are only thirteen states that still request legacy SSA external locates. The legacy SSA external locate provides two response records: the E01, Annual Wage Record (AWR) and E03, SSA Title II record. The E03 record provides limited information that includes only the address, Title II benefit amount, and date of death.
OCSE has encouraged States to convert from legacy SSA external locates to SVES. SVES provides all of the information from the legacy E03 response, as well as the category of assistance (e.g., aged, blind), dates of entitlement, claim account number (CAN), beneficiary identification, and much more. In addition to providing expanded Title II information for an NCP or CP, a SVES Title II locate request may be submitted for a child.
SVES also provides extensive Title XVI SSI and prisoner data. The E01 AWR record is still provided through a SVES locate request, which ensures that States are not losing valuable data by converting from the legacy SSA external locate to SVES.
Presently, 41 States are taking advantage of receiving SVES and finding direct benefits to their programs. The State Technical Support Team will be contacting the 13 States identified as not receiving SVES in order to assess the impact if OCSE discontinues sending SSA E03 records.
State Success Stores - Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota
Colorado began using SVES data effective April 15, 2003. Dee Price-Sanders discussed how they load and process all SVES information into their state system, which then displays it for workers to review. The response files are sorted by locate Title II, Title XVI and prison information. They have not automated the income assignments for Title II benefits yet because their employer file is not updated with all the social security offices, but they hope to have this done in the future. Ultimately, Dee would like to be able to send all SSA IWOs to a centralized location.
Colorado has entered into an agreement with their State prisons to have them accept an administrative lien against an inmate’s account for any funds the inmate earns or receives while incarcerated. They have successfully matched over 5,000 inmates and are collecting over $25,000 a month from those inmate accounts. For 2006, collections came to almost $306,000.
Colorado’s line staff has also begun working with other States as a result of SVES data they receive and have been successful in serving administrative liens to prisons in Utah and Florida. They are also working with some of the other prisons in other States to see if they will accept the administrative liens and begin attaching those funds as well. County jails that report to SVES are a great locate source for inmates, including those that have already been released because it allows caseworkers to find people who may not have been processed by a State parent locator service. When the caseworker finds out through SVES that a person has been incarcerated in a county jail in a surrounding State, it often leads to locating that individual. Dee expressed that they appreciate the SVES data and want to figure out more ways to automate the process.
Iowa began using SVES data effective January 27, 2006. Melissa Mau provided background information on their process for making changes to their system. First, they asked for input from field and central office staff on ways to use the SVES information. Next, they were able to identify processes that would be affected and determine how they would add SVES information into their system.
The first process they looked at was the enforcement of orders when a person is identified as receiving Title II benefits. Iowa planned to send income withholding orders for Title II beneficiaries.
They also identified that the SVES information would be helpful for the establishment and modification of orders. They use SVES data to verify benefit information for payers, payees and children. This is very helpful to them for calculating child support amounts and modifying orders appropriately.
Because SVES provides new and current addresses, location is another process affected. The SVES data is helpful in locating obligors and payees for undistributed collections.
The last process where SVES data was helpful was in identifying people who qualify for “special hardships” for income withholding. Iowa has State specific laws that allow special credits for disabled persons. For those obligors who receive SSI or SSD due to a disability the payer can request that their arrears be collected at a lower amount.
Once Iowa staff identified how the SVES information could help them they considered the best way that they could get this information to their workers quickly. They decided to build a new database called the Location Database (LOCDB). It was put it into production in May of 2006 and is a view-only database that can be queried by name and social security number. SVES information may be displayed within four different screens: recipient demographic screen, Social Security Disability Retirement screen, Supplemental Security Income and Prisoner Information screen.
When SSI, SSD, Social Security Retirement, Railroad Retirement or prisoner information is received the caseworker is alerted with benefit begin and end dates. This ensures that an income withholding or other action will be promptly taken on the case.
Massachusetts began using SVES data March 29, 2005. Mary Kate McDonald reported that they used SVES information for a special arrears management project. They knew that key parts of managing their arrears were to identify the good arrears from the bad arrears, identify which cases were accruing appropriately, and identify incarcerated and deceased NCPs, in addition to those receiving SSI or SSD.
They began by first identifying all 147,000 cases that owed arrears. They didn’t have a batch process within their system to submit those cases, so they hired three temporary staff to submit an FPLS request on all of the persons with arrears.
Once the SVES information was returned, it was then bundled and sent to the regional offices. Staff found the information to be very useful in managing some of the arrears. For example, Mary Kate reported that in her region alone, they were able to remove $3.5 million of arrears on cases where SVES data reported the NCP as deceased. This allowed them to remove the arrears and close the case. The western region reported a $1.5 million decrease in arrearages. The north and south regions reported similar amounts.
Minnesota began using SVES data July 5, 2003. Patty Schafer shared some of the ways that they are utilizing the SVES information. If the case is in locate, they will automatically submit NCPs every 90 days to SVES until the person is located. Caseworkers have the ability to manually request the SVES data and do so as part of the establishment process. The SVES data is displayed on mainframe screens for each data element: Title II, Title XVI, prisoner data and date of death. Caseworkers are notified via work lists and activities. All records must be reviewed in order to purge the worklist. Minnesota has also included a filtering process that filters duplicate record information.
Income withholding orders are left at the discretion of the caseworker. They do have all SSA offices loaded on their employer table so once the employer is chosen everything is automated from that point. When Title XVI or Title II information is received it is an indication that they should consider the case for modification. Minnesota feels that the SVES proactive matching will benefit them.
SVES Print Program
OCSE has developed a print program for those States that wish to receive the SVES data, but are unable to program for the new records. The print program will create four separate reports: Title II, TitleXVI, Prisoner information and a report of responses that are not found. Should any State wish to obtain the print program, they should contact their State Technical Support Liaison.
SVES Proactive Matching
Currently, States must initiate an external locate request in order to receive information from SVES. State systems vary on when SVES external locate requests are initiated. The majority of States initiate external locates when a participant is placed in locate status and on a scheduled (e.g., every three months) cycle. Their systems automatically send locate requests to the FPLS. The purpose of this change is to provide States with an opportunity to receive SVES proactively, providing more timely receipt of entitlement data or changes in benefits.
This project will be phased incrementally over multiple releases. The first phase, scheduled for the July 13, 2007 Release, will entail the following:
- States will have an option to participate. States must submit a SVES Locate and Proactive Match Election Form, which can be found in FCR Data Election Guide
- FCR will automatically submit an NCP or PF to SVES when the person record is added or changed
- If an NCP or PF is shared in common with another state, you will receive a SVES response when that State submits an add or change person record
- States may opt to receive CP and child data
- The proactive match will only apply to IV-D case participants with verified SSNs and no Family Violence Indicator
- Children will only be submitted to Title II for matching
- FCR will only send positive responses; negative responses will not be sent
Bureau of Prisons
Recently, OCSE received a request from States to investigate the possibility of obtaining the future release date of prisoners. Currently, the release date that is provided in the SVES record is the actual historical date that the prisoner was released. In order to obtain this new information, SSA will need to request the information from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). OCSE has requested that SSA address this topic during their future negotiation meetings with BOP, however, at this time there are no meetings scheduled.
As referenced in DCL-05-35, the BOP does maintain an inmate location web site for public inquiry which includes the “projected date of release”. The web site will search for inmates using name, age, gender or race, and most importantly, it will also search via a unique Prisoner ID Number or Register Number. The FCR SVES response record provides this inmate identifier. If the state is searching for an NCP, and the NCP is in Federal prison, State caseworkers can retrieve the “projected date of release” for that inmate if they have access to the web. The BOP inmate locator URL is: http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/LocateInmate.jsp Visit disclaimer page
Planned Match with the Pending Application file
Currently SVES requesting States are receiving information when the status of an application for benefits is at an active, denied, terminated or suspended status. SVES does not provide information about pending applications for benefits. CSE is in negotiations with SSA to begin matching against SSA’s pending application files and is anticipating that this data will be available with the spring 2008 Release.
When information about an SSA applicant or beneficiary is received, SSA will accept and log all IWOs into their Court Order Garnishment System (COGS), which is their nationwide database of income withholdings and garnishments. The only requirement is that the person must have already filed an application for benefits. Once an IWO has been entered into COGS, it will remain indefinitely. In addition, if more than a year has passed between the time the IWO was received and the time that benefits are paid, SSA will contact the state disbursement unit to confirm the content of the order. States may also find it helpful to send an IWO to SSA when they are informed of denied applications, since there is a possibility that the claim will be moved to the approved status once an appeal has been processed.
- Question: How do States request the SVES information?
Answer: States should contact their State Technical Support Liaison to request the SVES data. SVES information is obtained through an external locate request. The SVES response record is different than the response record for all other external locate sources and requires programming on the State’s part to accept the additional data into their system. However, OCSE has developed a SVES print program that will strip the SVES data from the FCR output file and provide States with a file for printing.
- Question:Can you send us a listing of the Ledger Account File (LAF) codes that we should be sending IWOs on?
Answer:SSA recommends that States use the Date of Current Title II Entitlement (pos 419-424) and Date of Title II Suspension or Termination (pos 425-430) to determine whether a person is receiving benefits. If the Date of Title II Suspension or Termination is blank or predates the Date of Current Title II Entitlement, an IWO should be sent to SSA. LAF codes can provide additional informational about the receipt or non-receipt of benefits.