invalid claim

Incomplete or Invalid Claims Processing Terminology


These requirements apply to Part B assigned and unassigned claims (Form CMS-1500) or electronic data interchange equivalent.

Unprocessable Claim – Any claim with incomplete or missing, required information, or any invalid claim definition that contains complete and necessary information; however, the information provided is invalid. Such information may either be required for all claims or required conditionally.


Incomplete Information – Missing, required or conditional information on an invalid claim (e.g., no Unique Physician Identification Number (UPIN) / Provider Identification Number (PIN) or National Provider Identifier (NPI) when effective).

Invalid Information – Complete required or conditional information on an invalid claim that is illogical, or incorrect (e.g., incorrect UPIN/PIN or NPI when effective), or no longer in effect (e.g., an expired number).

Required – Any data element that is needed in order to process an invalid claim definition (e.g., Provider Name, Date of Service).

Not Required – Any data element that is optional or is not needed by Medicare in order to process an invalid claim (e.g., Patient’s Marital Status).

Conditional – Any data element that must be completed if other conditions exist (e.g., if there is insurance primary to Medicare, then the primary insurer’s group name and number must be entered on an invalid claim or if the insured is different from the patient, then the insured’s name must be entered on an invalid claim).

Return as Unprocessable or Return to Provider (RTP)– Returning an invalid claim as unprocessable to the provider (RTP) does not mean that the carrier or FI should physically return every claim it received with incomplete or invalid information. The term “return to provider” is used to refer to the many processes utilized today for notifying the provider or supplier of service that their invalid claim cannot be processed, and that it must be corrected or resubmitted. Some (not all) of the various techniques for returning claims as unprocessable include:

• Incomplete or invalid information is detected at the front-end of the carrier or FI claims processing system. The claim is returned to the provider (RTP’d) either electronically or in a hardcopy/checklist type form explaining the error(s) and how to correct the errors prior to resubmission. Invalid claim data are not retained in the system for these RTP’d claims. No RA is issued.

• Incomplete or invalid information is detected at the front-end of the claims processing system and is suspended and developed. If requested corrections and/or medical documentation are submitted within a 45-day period, the invalid claim is processed. Otherwise, the suspended portion is returned and the supplier or provider of service is notified by means of the RA.

• Incomplete or invalid information is detected within the claims processing system and is rejected through the remittance process. Suppliers or providers of service are notified of any error(s) through the remittance notice and how to correct prior to resubmission. A record of the invalid claim is retained in the system (NOTE: This applies to carriers only. FIs do not use the remittance advice process for return to provider (RTP)).

An invalid claim returned as unprocessable for incomplete or invalid information does not meet the criteria to be considered as an invalid claim, is not denied, and, as such, is not afforded appeal rights.

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