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How To Verify Social Security And Supplemental Security Income Benefits

by Published On: Oct 12, 2012Updated On: Jan 10, 2014
Social Security

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has previously indicated that it will no longer provide written verification of Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits through the mail.   However, a recent reminder encourages owners to share information with their residents for setting up a my Social Security account. 

As part of the outreach, SSA sent out electronic messages informing stakeholders that Social Security field offices would no longer be able to print out even in person requests made by residents.  

Communications from the SSA indicate that these changes are being made due to cuts to the SSA budget, and due to concerns about the potential for fraudulent tampering of unofficial SSN print outs, but articulate that "beneficiaries and recipients needing a benefit verification letter can obtain one immediately by registering for a mySocial Security account at SocialSecurity.gov/myaccount, or through the mail within 5 - 7 days by calling our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213." 

Therefore, the SSA has created a series of messages and fact sheets which are intended to help housing providers and SS/SSI recepients to obtain the information they need.

People needing proof of their Social Security or Supplemental Security Income benefits can get verification letters online instantly through a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount. They also can get one mailed to them by calling the Social Security Administration toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY
1-800-325-0778).

The fact sheet, How To Create An Online Account , provides step-by-step instructions and explains how to get a benefit verification letter.

Background

HUD Operations: Social Security Payments "Go Direct" in March 2013 

 In October 2012, expectations were that housing providers would verify 6-month balances on Direct Express debit cards like for checking accounts. On Feb 28, 2013, HUD announced a revised policy directing owners instead to treat them like a savings account, requiring only a balance no more than 120 days old. This is good news as it enhances owner ability to obtain adequate documentation, and reduces potential undue cost to tenants.

Under a U.S. Department of the Treasury rule, on March 1, 2013 most federal benefit converted over to electronic payment instead of  paper check. Recipients receiving their Social Security benefits electronically are allowed to request direct deposit or they can have the benefit deposited in to a debit card called Direct Express.

On Feb 27, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a policy directing owners to treat Direct Express Debit Cards like a savings account, requiring only a balance no more than 120 days old. 

This is good news as it enhances owner ability to obtain adequate documentation (current vs. 6 month average balances), and reduces potential undue cost to tenants (Direct Express Debit charges cardholders a fee in order to send monthly statements, and does not verify records of monthly activity, unlike typical bank account services).

Therefore the new policy articulates that "In order to remain consistent with HUD regulations, benefits received through direct deposit OR the Direct Express Debit Card will continue to be treated as income since the payment is a regular periodic payment. And the balance on the Direct Express Debit Card is considered an asset and will be verified in a manner consistent with existing savings account verification requirements."

Specifically, tenants who receive their benefit on a Direct Express Debit Card will need to provide an account balance no more than 120 days old at the time of recertification. A current balance can be obtained from an ATM, through the online account service, or a paper statement. 

The verification document must identify the account and the account holder.  

The full HUD posting of the policy change follows:

RHIIP Listserv Posting #296                                                                                                                                                                                               February 27, 2013

________________________________________

Social Security Benefits Move Fully Electronic
Effective by March 1, 2013

Clarification on the Treatment of the Direct Express Debit Card

The U.S. Social Security Administration has a new policy which will eliminate the option for Social Security and SSI recipients to receive their benefits in the form of paper checks beginning on March 1, 2013.  Recipients will continue to have the option to use direct deposit for their benefits or they may choose to receive a “Direct Express Debit Card.” The debit card is automatically loaded with a recipient’s benefits on the appropriate payment day of each month. The card is not associated with the recipient’s bank account and funds cannot be added to the card by the card holder.
 
We have received several inquiries about the Direct Express Debit Card and how it will affect income and asset calculations for tenants of HUD subsidized properties.  In order to remain consistent with HUD regulations, benefits received through direct deposit OR the Direct Express Debit Card will continue to be treated as income.  The balance on the Direct Express Debit Card is also considered an asset and will be verified consistent with existing savings account verification requirements.  Specifically, tenants who receive their benefit on a Direct Express Debit Card will need to provide an account balance no more than 120 days old at the time of recertification.  This balance can be obtained from an ATM, though the online account service, or a paper statement.  The verification document must identify the account and the account holder.  If the total household assets do not exceed $5,000, no income will be derived from this asset.  If household assets exceed $5,000, assets should be imputed at the standard rate of 2%.

For more information, please visit the SSA website at: http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10073.html

Electronic Payments: The Best Way to Get Benefits

Currently, more than 94% of Social Security beneficiaries and nearly 83% of Social Security Income beneficiaries receive their monthly benefits electronically, the safest and most reliable method of payment delivery.

“This important change will provide significant savings to American taxpayers who will no longer incur the annual $120 million price tag associated with paper checks and will save Social Security $1 billion over the next 10 years,” Treasury Fiscal Assistant Secretary Richard L. Gregg said in a release.

People still getting paper checks have the option of direct deposit to a financial institution account of their choice or Treasury's Direct Express® debit card program. Advantages and enrollment information are available online at GoDirect.org.

Exceptions

Individuals may request an exemption to the electronic payment requirement from Treasury Department. More information on exemptions is available from Social Security Online.

 



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