Replacing Missing Supplemental Security Income Checks:

Recipients Waiting Longer Than Necessary

HRD-78-28: Published: Aug 22, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 1978.

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is intended to provide a minimum income level for aged, blind, or disabled people having little or no means of self-support. About 28,000 recipients each month report that they have not received their SSI checks.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Treasury Department have a system for replacing checks reported missing, but the system has problems and many recipients wait a long time before receiving checks. SSA began an expedited check replacement system in August 1974 which could replace checks within 10 days. However, extensive delays were still caused by problems such as errors in entering information into the computer. Additional changes made by SSA in April 1977 resulted in rapid replacement of some checks but did not correct the problems of delays caused by incorrect processing. The current system is designed to replace missing checks within 4 to 6 days if district offices enter correct information into the central computer. Bills introduced in Congress either authorize SSA to reimburse state and local agencies that make emergency loans to people who do not receive their checks or require SSA to replace checks within a short time period. The emergency loan proposal would require extensive management controls and considerable coordination with the states. Replacing checks in a short time period could be costly or difficult to implement.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Social Services should be directed to improve the present check replacement system by: (1) requiring district offices to make periodic reviews of nonreceipt transmissions for accuracy; (2) establishing controls to ensure timely processing of rejected nonreceipt claims; and (3) emphasizing the need for district offices to input changes of address. Congress, if it believes recipients who do not receive their SSI checks should be assisted in less than 4 days, should authorize the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to issue replacement payments from district offices using prepositioned checks and a cash fund and use an immediate payment method only in emergency cases. In carrying out any immediate payment process, it should require the Secretary, HEW, to record replacement payments immediately in the central computer and make information available to offices which may issue replacement payments and to implement procedures to identify and bar from further use of the system recipients who repeatedly abuse the immediate payment system.

    Agency Affected:


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