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M21-1, Part X, Chapter 05 – Social Security Death Master File


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic Name

1.  Overview of the DMF Match


This topic contains information on processing cases identified by the match, including

Change Date

June 21, 2018

X.5.1.a.  Records From the DMF

The Social Security Administration (SSA) compiles death information into one system of records called the death master file (DMF).  Upon receipt of the DMF, compensation and pension (C&P) master records
  • are matched with the DMF on a weekly basis, and
  • include only those deaths reported to the SSA since the last match.
When a match is made between the SSA DMF records and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records, the individual (payee or spouse) is identified as possibly deceased.

X.5.1.b.  Message Code 833 Work Items

Message code 833 work items with the matching Social Security number (SSN) and date of death are generated for cases identified by the DMFmatch with one of the legends described in the table below.
Match Results
SSA Death C&P Matched
The master record and the SSA DMF match on
  • SSN
  • date of birth (DOB), and
  • name.
SSA Death DOB Mismatch
Master record DOB does not match the SSA DOB.
SSA Death Name Mismatched
Master record last name or first initial of the first name do not match the SSA last name and/or first initial of the first name.

X.5.1.c.  Automated Actions Based on Death Match

For cases with the legend, SSA Death C&P Matched, the system will
  • suspend the beneficiary’s award and any recurring payment (to include apportionments), and
  • generate and mail a letter providing notice to the beneficiary’s address that the award is suspended.

2.  Processing Cases Identified by the DMF Match


This topic contains information on processing cases identified by match, including

Change Date

November 16, 2015

X.5.2.a.  Reviewing the Master Record on DMF Matches

Review the master record to determine whether the award has been terminated or the spouse has been removed from the award.
action has been completed and the termination or adjustment was from the correct effective date
no further action is required.  Clear the work item.
there is no evidence that action has been taken as a result of the DMF match
determine whether the individual identified by the DMF match is in fact the VA payee or spouse and take appropriate action.

X.5.2.b.  Determining if the Beneficiary Is Alive During a Review of the DMF Match

Check for evidence in the file that the beneficiary is alive.
Consider the beneficiary alive if there was personal physical contact with VA since the date of death reported by the SSA.  Examples include a physical examination or hospitalization at a VA medical facility.

X.5.2.c.  Review of CAPRI Records on DMF Matches
If the Veteran was hospitalized at a VA medical facility, use the Compensation and Pension Record Interchange (CAPRI) to determine whether the Veteran has died.
A report of personal contact by a VA employee is another good example that the match report is erroneous.
Reference:  For more information on the CAPRI system and beneficiaries institutionalized at VA expense, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart v, 6.A.

X.5.2.d.  Conflicting Evidence of Record on DMF Match
If the file contains conflicting evidence regarding the beneficiary’s possible death, resolve this conflict.  Advise the beneficiary to
  • furnish a signed statement that clearly identifies him or her as the beneficiary erroneously reported to be deceased
  • confirm his or her SSN, and
  • furnish a current telephone number.

X.5.2.e.  Telephoning the Beneficiary Regarding DMF Match
As an alternative to sending a letter, you may telephone the beneficiary.
Before telephoning the beneficiary, review the file for information that a family member would not ordinarily be familiar with, such as the Veteran’s serial number, campaign ribbons, medical conditions, and so on.
Once contact is made, ask the beneficiary about these things.
If the caller is satisfied that the payee is alive, no further action need be taken other than to make a report of telephone contact on VA Form 27-0820, Report of General Information, for the file as outlined in 38 CFR 3.217.  The report of contact must state the reasons why the caller believed the beneficiary is alive.

X.5.2.f.  Beneficiary Believed to be Deceased Based on DMF Match
If the file does not contain any evidence that the beneficiary is alive, take action to
  • terminate the award, and
  • give contemporaneous notice.
Note:  If the person indicated in the DMF match is a dependent on the beneficiary’s award, send notice of proposed adverse action to the beneficiary prior to award action under 38 CFR 3.103(b)(3)(iii).

X.5.2.g.  Field Examination Needed Based on DMF Match

If the measures described in M21-1, Part X,, fail to establish the status of a payee or spouse, request a field examination.
Reference:  For more information on field examinations, see M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 8.8.

X.5.2.h.  DMF Match Identifies Veteran’s Spouse

If the person identified by the DMF match is the Veteran’s current spouse, send a letter advising the Veteran that evidence has been received from SSA indicating that his or her spouse may be deceased.
Ask the Veteran to provide information regarding the death of the spouse, using either the death certificate, statement, or VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependent, and furnish notice of proposed adverse action.

X.5.2.i.  Removing the Veteran’s Spouse Based on DMF Match

If the Veteran does not respond, remove the spouse effective the first of the
  • month after the month of death, for current-law pension, or
  • year following the year of death, for Section 306 and Old-Law Pension reported by the SSA.

X.5.2.j.  Fraud Discovered Based on DMF Match

If potential fraud is discovered, follow the provisions of M21-1, Part III, Subpart vi, 5.A.

X.5.2.k.  Claims Folder Required Based on DMF Match
If a claims folder located at the Records Management Center is needed to conduct the review, recall the folder.

3.  EP Credit, Reporting, and Cost Avoidance


This topic contains information on EP credit, reporting, and cost avoidance, including

Change Date

November 15, 2016

X.5.3.a.  EP Assignment for DMF Matches

Cases that require development and/or award action based on the SSA DMF match are assigned end product (EP) 130. A payee 00 death should be processed as an notice of death (NOD) via the FIRST NOTICE OF DEATH command in Share. All other payees should use EP 130 for award action.
Note:  Follow the instructions in M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 1.C.7 if
  • action on the worksheet cannot be taken immediately, and
  • the action involves an award of disability compensation, pension, or DIC.
Reference:  For more information on EP credit, see M21-4, Appendix B.

X.5.3.b.  Reporting Due Dates on DMF matches

An RCS 20-0841 report is due 14 working days after the following dates:
  • March 31
  • June 30
  • September 30, and
  • December 31.
Report cases in the quarter when overpayment/cost avoidance occurs.
Note:  Negative reports are required.

X.5.3.c.  Where to Send the Report on DMF Matches

Send the report via e-mail to the VAVBAWAS/CO/212A mailbox.
Note:  Pension management centers (PMCs) must send a copy of this report to the Pension Policy and Procedures mailbox at VAVBAWAS/CO/PENSION POL & PROC.

X.5.3.d.  DMF Match Report Format

Reports are required in the following format:
  • number of overpayments generated
  • amount of overpayments
  • number of cases referred for fraud, and
  • fiscal year cost avoidance in cases which are adjusted as a result of this project.
Note:  Overpayment and cost avoidance figures reported on the RCS 20-0841report should be for the reporting quarter only.  Do not include amounts from prior quarters or provide a fiscal year cumulative figure.

X.5.3.e.  Cost Avoidance Report on DMF Matches

Fiscal year cost avoidance is determined by projecting benefits that would have been paid from the month the award terminating or adjusting the account is authorized until the end of the fiscal year during which the award is authorized.

X.5.3.f.  Example:  Determining Cost Avoidance on DMF Matches

  • The DMF match indicates that the Veteran’s spouse, Paul, died on April 1, 2007.
  • Review of the corporate record reveals that the Veteran is in receipt of 30 percent compensation at the rate for a Veteran and a spouse.
  • Review of the corporate record indicates that the Veteran’s spouse is named Paul.
  • The Veteran is asked to complete VA Form 21-686c.
  • On August 7, 2007, the Veteran returns the VA Form 21-686c, confirming that her spouse died on April 1, 2007.
  • An award to remove the spouse is authorized on September 2, 2007.
Result:  The award authorized on September 2, 2007, creates an overpayment of $164 (4 months at $41 per month).  Fiscal year cost avoidance is $41 (one month remains in fiscal year 2007).
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