What is a Preeffectuation Review Contact (PERC)

At a recent NOSSCR conference, I learned more about an incident after most of my winning cases. After you win your hearing, if it involves SSI, a Social Security representative will call you to obtain some extra information. SSA calls it a “Preeffectuation Review Contact” or a “PERC” (which is what we will call it). Preeffecutation is made up, which means “before we start paying you.” Every SSI claimant will have one of these calls.

Senior couple at home filling social security benefits paperThe caseworker will discuss your financial eligibility to collect SSI at the PERC. At your initial application, they did this before passing you on to the medical determination. Since then, two years have passed, so SSA wants to ensure that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements to collect. To qualify for SSI, a person’s household income and resources must be less than $7,000 (exempting a primary house and one car). 

To prepare for this phone call, you need to have payroll information for any recent job (within the last six months or so), bank information (statements), Landlord/housing information (rent payment info)​, and vehicle/property info​. The SSA rep will determine if you live with someone taking care of living expenses. Since that is almost always true, SSA will adjust the prospective benefits downward for the subsidy.

As I noted earlier, SSA reps ask the most difficult questions about “holding out.” SSA defines “holding out” in, “these instructions [are] to determine whether two individuals who live in the same household are considered married for SSI purposes because they hold themselves out as a married couple to the community in which they live.” If a client is married, then the spouse’s income counts as their income. This called “deeming.” Thus, if the spouse works full-time, the claimant is unlikely to qualify for benefits.

SSA is convinced that most clients know this, and many try to evade this rule by not legally marrying but telling everyone they know they are married.

What You Need To Know About PERC

Thus, at the PERC, the representative tries to figure out what you call your significant other, whether your name appears on a title or deed of the property, whether bank accounts and credit cards are shared, etc. It is essential to expect these questions and to know the answers, i.e., SSI claimants should not marry or pretend to be married to the outside world. It disqualifies benefits.

Another important part of the PERC is determining how the payments will be made. SSI payments for past benefits, or “back-pay,” will be made in installments many months apart. SSI will confirm the schedule of those benefits during the PERC call. For this part, the client must have their bank account information available so that SSA can deposit the back pay into it. SSA provides the option of a “rechargeable” debit card. Do not choose this option. Not for anything SSA will do but because of the confiscatory fees banks charge on these cards. You need a checking or savings account.

In the end, this phone call is very important but overlooked part of the Disability process, and everything you’ve won can be taken away if you fail to provide the answers, glibly provide the wrong solutions, or cannot provide documentation. 

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