DHS to Disclose Individual’s Information to SSA

By Reuben Seguritan

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin sending certain information through the Benefits Information System (BIS) to the Social Security Administration (SSA). The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Integrated Database (EID) will also send information to the SSA.

The information will contain the names, social security numbers, dates of birth, Alien Registration Numbers (“A” number), country of birth, dates of departure and expected length of stays of lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who leave the United States voluntarily or are removed or deported from the US. The information will also contain the country to which the LPR was removed, date of removal, and final removal charge code. The SSA will match the names and information in the BIS and the EID with its Enumeration System, Master Beneficiary Record (MBR), SSA rulings (SSR), SSA Master Files of Social Security Numbers Holders, SSN Applications and Supplemental Security Income Record and Special Veterans Benefits.

The goal of this information sharing and matching program is to provide the SSA with proof of ineligibility for Social Security benefits to LPRs. The SSA will implement this matching program beginning on January 19, 2020 or a minimum of 30 days from publication of the notice. The matching program will be in effect for a period of 18 months.

The SSA is required to verify declarations of applicants for and recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments before making a determination of eligibility and payment. With the information from the DHS, the SSA will have the basis for the suspension or nonpayment of benefits or recovery of overpayments to ineligible LPRs who have voluntarily left the US or have been removed or deported from the US.

LPRs eligible for SSI payments may receive payments for any month in which they reside in the United States. For purposes of the SSI, the United States is the 50 States, and includes the District of Columbia, and the Northern Mariana Islands. This means that an LPR is ineligible for SSI benefits for any month during all of which he/she is outside the US. Likewise, if the LPR is absent from the US for 30 consecutive days, the SSA will treat him/her as residing outside the US and not give the benefits. The LPR must return to the US and reside for a period of at least 30 consecutive days to be eligible as a resident of the US to SSI payments.

The law also allows the SSA to suspend SSI payments when the rules require the recipient to be a resident of the US, but he/she is not. Other provisions require the SSI recipient to be a US citizen, and hence the SSA will not give payments if the recipient is not a US citizen.

The SSA will not pay any amount whether as retirement or disability insurance benefits to LPRs, known as number holders (NH) in the system, who have been removed or deported from the US. The payments will stop for the month after the month in which the DHS notifies the SSA of the LPR’s removal. The payments will resume after the month in which the LPR is subsequently lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence.
The SSA will also not pay auxiliary or survivors benefits to people who are eligible because of the LPR, if such LPR has been removed or deported from the US. The payments will stop when the LPR is not in the US. The benefits will only resume when the LPR has been lawfully admitted back to the US for permanent residence.

There is a separate and existing Interagency Agreement (IAA) between the SSA and the DHS which is not part and will not be affected by the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act, as amended. The IAA allows the SSA access to the DHS’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program which utilizes the Verification Information System so it can confirm who are US citizens by naturalization or by derived citizenship, the current immigration status of applicants or NH, and those who have been removed or deported. The SSA is also allowed to use the Prisoner Update Processing System (PUPS) and the Unverified Prisoner System (UPS) to manually search for SSN of LPRs who have been removed or deported.