Access to Financial Institutions

Background

During the initial claims process and later reviews of eligibility, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants and recipients are required to report their resources to ensure they are eligible for SSI. Our studies found that money above the resource limit held by SSI recipients is a leading cause of payment errors. As a result, we examined alternatives to the traditional SSI asset verification practices of recipient self-reporting and direct contacts with financial institutions. The Access to Financial Institutions (AFI) process is an effective means of reducing errors with those aspects of SSI.

AFI is an electronic process that verifies bank account balances with financial institutions for purposes of determining SSI eligibility. In addition to verifying alleged accounts, AFI detects undisclosed accounts by using a geographic search to generate requests to other financial institutions. AFI's purpose is to identify excess resources in financial accounts, which are a leading cause of SSI payment errors. We currently use the AFI system in all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

We will reduce SSI improper payments resulting from excess financial resources by using the AFI process on all initial claims and redeterminations (i.e., review a recipient's non-medical eligibility factors such as income and resources to determine continued eligibility and payment amount) and conducting up to 10 searches per individual for undisclosed accounts.