How many of us have had clients win a hard fought battle to be found disabled, only to be denied benefits due to the discovery of ownership of real property in which they do not live?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented a new non-home real property (NHRP) verification process that requires the verification of real property for all claimants, recipients, and deemors during full initial claims development. It has created an electronic verification process to provide real property information using a LexisNexis database.
As explained in POMS SI 01140.100.C, SSA is not supposed to use information obtained from LexisNexis to deny or suspend benefits without additional verification. It is supposed to treat LexisNexis responses as a third-party report, which requires verification from the claimant, recipient, or deemor. SSA is responsible for reviewing the LexisNexis information with the recipient or deemor prior to making a decision on the information obtained from LexisNexis. If the claimant denies ownership of the NHRP, the Claims Specialist should develop the rebuttal and collect evidence to verify the allegation of non-ownership.
If the determination results in an adverse action, SSA is required to send the individual a notice of the planned adverse action that provides full due process rights, including the reason for the action, the right to appeal, and the opportunity to continue receiving unreduced payments until there is a decision at the first level of appeal. SSA must continue to pay SSI benefits to the individual if she files an appeal within 10 days of receipt of the advance notice.
Sounds good, right? Advocates, however, have raised concerns about whether district and field offices are actually following these procedures. If you see clients with problems around local offices’ failure to follow these due process policies, please contact Kate Lang at Justice in Aging, email@example.com.