SSA PROPOSES BROAD RULES ALLOWING IT ACCESS TO FINANCIAL RECORDS OF SSI ELIGIBLE INDIVIDUALS

 

SSA is proposing new rules to increase their access to bank account information of SSI applicants, beneficiaries and other individuals whose income and resources are deemed available to the applicant or recipient.  The proposed rules were announced in the May 2, 2022 Federal Register.  The new rules will require an SSI applicant or SSI beneficiary to give written permission to SSA to contact any financial institution and request any financial records the financial institution may have on the applicant or beneficiary.  In addition, SSA may also contact the financial institution of anyone whose income and resources SSA considers as being available to the applicant or beneficiary. 

 

The proposed rules also allow SSA to deny SSI eligibility, or suspend SSI eligibility, if the individual refuses or cancels permission, or any persons whose income and resources SSA considers as being available to the individual refuses or cancels permission to obtain the financial information.

 

How has this changed things?  SSA has always had the authority to verify all relevant information about financial eligibility of SSI applicants and beneficiaries. These proposed rules add the requirement that spouses, parents or sponsors of non-citizens of SSI applicants and beneficiaries expressly give written permission to SSA to obtain their financial information.  If any individual refuses permission, the SSI eligible individual will lose SSI eligibility.  The rules also give SSA access to any financial information that SSA believes is relevant.

 

What does this mean?  This new requirement could cause some SSI eligible individuals to lose SSI benefits if persons (spouses or parents or sponsors whose income and resources SSA deems to SSI recipients) refuse to sign the release for SSA to obtain their financial information.  For example, if a spouse decides not to cooperate with SSA and refuses to sign the written permission, the SSI eligible spouse could lose SSI benefits.  There appears to be no limit to the type of information that SSA could request about an individual, and SSA does not even have to furnish a copy of the written permission to the financial institution.

 

Is this necessary?  If SSA does not have to furnish a copy of the written permission to the financial institution, it seems unnecessary to require written permission from spouses, parents or sponsors.  If all SSA needs is accurate Social Security numbers of responsible persons, and can obtain the information anyway, requiring the written permission adds paperwork and may add another barrier to obtaining cash benefits.  On the other hand, the requirement that individuals sign written permission will serve to put them on notice that their financial records are open to SSA.

 

What can I do about this?  If you have comments about these proposed rules, you can submit written comments to SSA on or before July 1, 2022.  You can e-mail your comments to regulations@ssa.gov, fax them to 410.966.2830, of send them to the Commissioner of Social Security, P.O. Box 17703, Baltimore, MD 21235-7703.