May 24, 2007

Payment Center Direct Contact

Below is a statement from a recent issuance from Social Security's Program Operations Manual Series (POMS). POMS is Social Security's most important employee manual.

The general, but simple, rule is that a PC [Payment Center] employee will not refer development to the FO [Field Office] unless face to face contact is required, or where the FO is responsible for making a final determination on the issue (such as a representative payee determination).

The PC will always obtain information, statement clarifications or required evidence via DIRCON [Direct Contact with the claimant or others] unless a face to face or field contact is needed, or one of the exceptions in GN 01070.305C. or D. below applies.

I believe this is new and significant. Can anyone help me on this?


Anonymous said...

I am not directly familiar with DIRCON but am in a hearing office. The payment center will contact us directly with issues such as additional earnings and does not go to the field office with this type of issue. This has been going on for quite awhile.

Anonymous said...

I work in Payment Center 7 as a Claims Authorizer. The POMS procedure you cite is a few years old. Someone decided at that time that the payment center employees should try to get evidence such as workers’ compensation proofs directly from the claimant instead of going through the district office.

This was apparently done in an effort to help the district office with their workloads. Sounds good in theory but doesn’t work in practice.

From what I have experienced payment center employees often have to send a request to the district office anyway. They are in a much better position to call the claimant and ask him to bring in the evidence. When the claimant mails us from a thousand miles away, the evidence usually is incomplete and can't be used anyway.

When we work ALJ cases in the payment center, we have to get these claimants into pay right away, can’t afford to wait for them to mail us evidence which could take weeks to get here. Also there are time differences and language problems to deal with, a lot of Spanish speaking claimants, the district offices are set up to handle this, not the PC’s.

Bottom line, in PC7, the procedure you cited is often not followed. With the workload pressures we get from managers, we cannot afford to waste time in fruitless efforts to call claimants for evidence. (We do sometimes send direct mail letters for evidence from the payment center diary for the response, some success doing this).

Anonymous said...

Claimants are called when 2 SSA-455s have been sent and not returned. The BET tries to obtain the information over the phone without having to send another SSA-455.