Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2016, 66963-66967 [2015-27828]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 210 / Friday, October 30, 2015 / Notices Submit completed loan applications to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: A. Escobar, Office of Disaster Assistance, U.S. Small Business Administration, 409 3rd Street SW., Suite 6050, Washington, DC 20416. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The notice of the President’s major disaster declaration for Private Non-Profit organizations in the State of South Carolina, dated 10/15/2015, is hereby amended to include the following areas as adversely affected by the disaster. Primary Counties: Chesterfield, Clarendon, Dorchester, Horry, Lee, Marion, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter. All other information in the original declaration remains unchanged. ADDRESSES: (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers 59002 and 59008) Joseph P. Loddo, Acting Associate Administrator for Disaster Assistance. [FR Doc. 2015–27624 Filed 10–29–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8025–01–P SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans; Interest Rate for First Quarter FY 2016 In accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations 13—Business Credit and Assistance § 123.512, the following interest rate is effective for Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loans approved on or after October 23, 2015. Military Reservist Loan Program— 4.000% Dated: October 26, 2015. James E. Rivera, Associate Administrator For Disaster Assistance. [FR Doc. 2015–27638 Filed 10–29–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8025–01–P SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirements Under OMB Review Small Business Administration. 30-Day Notice. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES AGENCY: ACTION: The Small Business Administration (SBA) is publishing this notice to comply with requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35), which requires agencies to submit proposed reporting SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Oct 29, 2015 Jkt 238001 and recordkeeping requirements to OMB for review and approval, and to publish a notice in the Federal Register notifying the public that the agency has made such a submission. This notice also allows an additional 30 days for public comments. DATES: Submit comments on or before November 30, 2015. ADDRESSES: Comments should refer to the information collection by name and/ or OMB Control Number and should be sent to: Agency Clearance Officer, Curtis Rich, Small Business Administration, 409 3rd Street SW., 5th Floor, Washington, DC 20416; and SBA Desk Officer, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget, New Executive Office Building, Washington, DC 20503. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Curtis Rich, Agency Clearance Officer, (202) 205–7030 curtis.rich@sba.gov. Copies: A copy of the Form OMB 83– 1, supporting statement, and other documents submitted to OMB for review may be obtained from the Agency Clearance Officer. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This form is a three-page questionnaire, principally in checklist form, designed to give SBA feedback from those who attend events which SBA cosponsors with other organizations. The form asks whether the event provided practical information which allowed them to manage their businesses more effectively and efficiently and gave them a good working knowledge of the subject. It asks whether the program was sufficient. It asks whether each speaker was well-organized, interesting, presented information at the appropriate level, and communicated well. It asks for suggestion for improvement, and for ideas for new topics. The form asks some demographic information so that SBA can better understand the Community which these events serve. Where the event relates to government contracting, it asks whether the respondent has taken advantage of various government contracting programs which SBA offers. SBA may also use this form to help evaluate programs which it conducts by itself. Responding to the questionnaire is entirely voluntary. This form is a three-page questionnaire, principally Solicitation of Public Comments: Comments may be submitted on (a) whether the collection of information is necessary for the agency to properly perform its functions; (b) whether the burden estimates are accurate; (c) whether there are ways to minimize the PO 00000 Frm 00098 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 66963 burden, including through the use of automated techniques or other forms of information technology; and (d) whether there are ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information. Summary of Information Collections: Title: Outreach Event survey. Description of Respondents: Those who attend events which SBA cosponsors with other organizations. Form Number: SBA Form 20. Estimated Annual Responses: 40,000. Estimated Annual Hour Burden: 20 minutes. Curtis B. Rich, Management Analyst. [FR Doc. 2015–27758 Filed 10–29–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 8025–01–P SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION [Docket No. SSA–2015–0063] Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2016 Social Security Administration. Notice. AGENCY: ACTION: There will be no cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits effective December 2015. The national average wage index for 2014 is $46,481.52. The cost-of-living increase and national average wage index affect other program parameters as described below. SUMMARY: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan C. Kunkel, Office of the Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235, (410) 965–3000. Information relating to this announcement is available on our Internet site at www.socialsecurity.gov/ oact/cola/index.html. For information on eligibility or claiming benefits, call 1–800–772–1213 (TTY 1–800–325– 0778), or visit our Internet site at www.socialsecurity.gov. Under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act), there will be no cost-of-living increase effective December 2015. Because there is no increase, the following items will remain at current levels for 2016: 1. The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance contribution and benefit base will remain $118,500 for remuneration paid in 2016 and selfemployment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2016; 2. The monthly exempt amounts under the OASDI retirement earnings test for taxable years ending in calendar year 2016 will remain $1,310 for beneficiaries who will attain their SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES 66964 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 210 / Friday, October 30, 2015 / Notices Normal Retirement Age after 2016 and $3,490 for those who attain such age in 2016; 3. The ‘‘old-law’’ contribution and benefit base under title II of the Act will remain $88,200 for 2016; 4. The monthly amount deemed to constitute substantial gainful activity (SGA) for statutorily blind persons in 2016 will remain $1,820; 5. The maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit amounts for 2016 under title XVI of the Act will remain $733 for an eligible individual, $1,100 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $367 for an essential person; 6. The special benefit amount under title VIII of the Act for certain World War II veterans will remain $549.75 for 2016; 7. The student earned income exclusion under title XVI of the Act will remain $1,780 per month in 2016, but not more than $7,180 for all of 2016; 8. The dollar fee limit for services performed as a representative payee will remain $41 per month ($78 per month in the case of a beneficiary who is disabled and has an alcoholism or drug addiction condition that leaves him or her incapable of managing benefits) in 2016; and 9. The dollar limit on the administrative-cost fee assessment charged to an appointed representative such as an attorney, agent, or other person who represents claimants will remain $91. The national average wage index for 2014 is $46,481.52. This index affects the following amounts: 1. The dollar amounts (‘‘bend points’’) used in the primary insurance amount (PIA) benefit formula for workers who become eligible for benefits, or who die before becoming eligible, in 2016 will be $856 and $5,157; 2. The bend points used in the formula for computing maximum family benefits for workers who become eligible for benefits, or who die before becoming eligible, in 2016 will be $1,093, $1,578, and $2,058; 3. The taxable earnings a person must have to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2016 will be $1,260; 4. The monthly amount deemed to constitute SGA for non-blind disabled persons will be $1,130 in 2016; 5. The earnings threshold establishing a month as a part of a trial work period will be $810 for 2016; and 6. Coverage thresholds for 2016 will be $2,000 for domestic workers and $1,700 for election officials and election workers. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Oct 29, 2015 Jkt 238001 The Act requires that we publish the following by November 1: The national average wage index for 2014 (215(a)(1)(D)), the earnings required to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2016 (section 213(d)(2)), the formula for computing a PIA for workers who first become eligible for benefits or die in 2016 (section 215(a)(1)(D)), and the formula for computing the maximum benefits payable to the family of a worker who first becomes eligible for old-age benefits or dies in 2016 (section 203(a)(2)(C)). Cost-of-Living Increases General There will be no cost-of-living increase for benefits under titles II and XVI of the Act. Computation Computation of the cost-of-living increase is based on an increase in a Consumer Price Index produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the time the Act was amended to provide cost-ofliving increases, only one Consumer Price Index existed, namely the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics has since developed other consumer price indices, we follow legal precedent by continuing to use the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. We refer to this index in the following paragraphs as the CPI. Section 215(i)(1)(B) of the Act defines a ‘‘computation quarter’’ to be a third calendar quarter in which the average CPI exceeded the average CPI in the previous computation quarter. The last cost-of-living increase, effective for those eligible to receive title II benefits for December 2014, was based on the CPI increase from the third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014. Therefore, the last computation quarter is the third quarter of 2014. The law states that a cost-of-living increase for benefits is determined based on the percentage increase, if any, in the CPI from the last computation quarter to the third quarter of the current year. Therefore, we compute any increase in the CPI from the third quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2015. Section 215(i)(1) of the Act states that the CPI for a cost-of-living computation quarter is the arithmetic mean of this index for the 3 months in that quarter. In accordance with 20 CFR 404.275, we round the arithmetic mean, if necessary, to the nearest 0.001. The CPI for each month in the quarter ending September 30, 2014, is: For July 2014, 234.525; for August 2014, 234.030; and for PO 00000 Frm 00099 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 September 2014, 234.170. The arithmetic mean for the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2014 is 234.242. The CPI for each month in the quarter ending September 30, 2015, is: For July 2015, 233.806; for August 2015, 233.366; and for September 2015, 232.661. The arithmetic mean for the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2015 is 233.278. The CPI for the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2015 is less than that for the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2014. Therefore, the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2015 is not a cost-ofliving computation quarter and there is no cost-of-living increase. Program Amounts That Change Based on the Cost-of-Living Increase The following program amounts normally change based on the cost-ofliving increase: (1) Title II benefits; (2) title XVI benefits; (3) title VIII benefits; (4) the student earned income exclusion; (5) the fee for services performed by a representative payee; and (6) the appointed representative fee assessment. Because there will be no cost-of-living increase, these program amounts will not increase in 2016 and will remain at their 2015 levels. Program Amounts That Change Based on the National Average Wage Index, But Only When There Is a Cost-ofLiving Increase Certain other program amounts are adjusted annually based on the change in the national average wage index, rather than the CPI increase, but only if there also is a cost-of-living increase that year (as determined under section 215(i) of the Act). These amounts include (1) the OASDI contribution and benefit base, (2) the exempt amounts under the retirement earnings test, (3) the ‘‘old-law’’ contribution and benefit base (as determined under section 230 of the Act as in effect before the 1977 amendments), and (4) the SGA amount applicable to statutorily blind individuals. Because there is no cost-ofliving increase this year, these amounts will not increase in 2016 and will remain at their 2015 levels. Program Amounts That Change Based on the National Average Wage Index, Without Regard to the Cost-of-Living Increase Some program amounts are adjusted annually based on the change in the national average wage index whether there is a cost-of-living increase in that year or not. These include: 1. The dollar amounts, or bend points, in the PIA formula; E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 210 / Friday, October 30, 2015 / Notices 2. The bend points in the maximum family benefit formula; 3. The earnings required to credit a worker with a quarter of coverage; 4. The SGA amount for non-blind disabled individuals; 5. The earnings threshold that establishes a month as part of a trial work period for disabled beneficiaries; 6. The coverage threshold for election officials and election workers; and 7. The domestic employee coverage threshold. These amounts will increase in 2016 based on the change in the national average wage. In the sections that follow, we explain the calculation of the percentage change in the national average wage and the corresponding changes in each of these program amounts. National Average Wage Index for 2014 Computation We determined the national average wage index for calendar year 2014 based on the 2013 national average wage index of $44,888.16, published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2014 (79 FR 64455), and the percentage increase in average wages from 2013 to 2014, as measured by annual wage data. We tabulate the annual wage data, including contributions to deferred compensation plans, as required by section 209(k) of the Act. The average amounts of wages calculated from these data were $43,041.39 for 2013 and $44,569.20 for 2014. To determine the national average wage index for 2014 at a level consistent with the national average wage indexing series for 1951 through 1977 (published December 29, 1978, at 43 FR 61016), we multiply the 2013 national average wage index of $44,888.16 by the percentage increase in average wages from 2013 to 2014 (based on SSA-tabulated wage data) as follows. We round the result to the nearest cent. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES National Average Wage Index Amount Multiplying the national average wage index for 2013 ($44,888.16) by the ratio of the average wage for 2014 ($44,569.20) to that for 2013 ($43,041.39) produces the 2014 index, $46,481.52. The national average wage index for calendar year 2014 is about 3.55 percent higher than the 2013 index. Primary Insurance Amount Benefit Formula General The Social Security Amendments of 1977 provided a method for computing benefits that generally applies when a worker first becomes eligible for benefits after 1978. This method uses the VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Oct 29, 2015 Jkt 238001 worker’s average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) to compute the PIA. We adjust the formula each year to reflect changes in general wage levels, as measured by the national average wage index. We also adjust, or index, a worker’s earnings to reflect the change in the general wage levels that occurred during the worker’s years of employment. Such indexing ensures that a worker’s future benefit level will reflect the general rise in the standard of living that will occur during his or her working lifetime. To compute the AIME, we first determine the required number of years of earnings. We then select the number of years with the highest indexed earnings, add the indexed earnings for those years, and divide the total amount by the total number of months in those years. We then round the resulting average amount down to the next lower dollar amount. The result is the AIME. Computing the PIA The PIA is the sum of three separate percentages of portions of the AIME. In 1979 (the first year the formula was in effect), these portions were the first $180, the amount between $180 and $1,085, and the amount over $1,085. We call the dollar amounts in the formula governing the portions of the AIME the ‘‘bend points’’ of the formula. Therefore, the bend points for 1979 were $180 and $1,085. To obtain the bend points for 2016, we multiply each of the 1979 bendpoint amounts by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that average for 1977. We then round these results to the nearest dollar. Multiplying the 1979 amounts of $180 and $1,085 by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1977 ($9,779.44) produces the amounts of $855.54 and $5,156.99. We round these to $856 and $5,157. Therefore, the portions of the AIME to be used in 2016 are the first $856, the amount between $856 and $5,157, and the amount over $5,157. Therefore, for individuals who first become eligible for old-age insurance benefits or disability insurance benefits in 2016, or who die in 2016 before becoming eligible for benefits, their PIA will be the sum of: (a) 90 percent of the first $856 of their AIME, plus (b) 32 percent of their AIME over $856 and through $5,157, plus (c) 15 percent of their AIME over $5,157 We round this amount to the next lower multiple of $0.10 if it is not already a multiple of $0.10. This PO 00000 Frm 00100 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 66965 formula and the rounding adjustment are stated in section 215(a) of the Act. Maximum Benefits Payable to a Family General The 1977 amendments continued the policy of limiting the total monthly benefits that a worker’s family may receive based on the worker’s PIA. Those amendments also continued the relationship between maximum family benefits and PIAs but changed the method of computing the maximum benefits that may be paid to a worker’s family. The Social Security Disability Amendments of 1980 (Pub. L. 96–265) established a formula for computing the maximum benefits payable to the family of a disabled worker. This formula applies to the family benefits of workers who first become entitled to disability insurance benefits after June 30, 1980, and who first become eligible for these benefits after 1978. For disabled workers initially entitled to disability benefits before July 1980 or whose disability began before 1979, we compute the family maximum payable the same as the old-age and survivor family maximum. Computing the Old-Age and Survivor Family Maximum The formula used to compute the family maximum is similar to that used to compute the PIA. It involves computing the sum of four separate percentages of portions of the worker’s PIA. In 1979, these portions were the first $230, the amount between $230 and $332, the amount between $332 and $433, and the amount over $433. We refer to such dollar amounts in the formula as the ‘‘bend points’’ of the family-maximum formula. To obtain the bend points for 2016, we multiply each of the 1979 bendpoint amounts by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that average for 1977. Then we round this amount to the nearest dollar. Multiplying the amounts of $230, $332, and $433 by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1977 ($9,779.44) produces the amounts of $1,093.19, $1,577.99, and $2,058.04. We round these amounts to $1,093, $1,578, and $2,058. Therefore, the portions of the PIAs to be used in 2016 are the first $1,093, the amount between $1,093 and $1,578, the amount between $1,578 and $2,058, and the amount over $2,058. Thus, for the family of a worker who becomes age 62 or dies in 2016 before age 62, we will compute the total benefits payable to them so that it does not exceed: E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 66966 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 210 / Friday, October 30, 2015 / Notices (a) 150 percent of the first $1,093 of the worker’s PIA, plus (b) 272 percent of the worker’s PIA over $1,093 through $1,578, plus (c) 134 percent of the worker’s PIA over $1,578 through $2,058, plus (d) 175 percent of the worker’s PIA over $2,058 We then round this amount to the next lower multiple of $0.10 if it is not already a multiple of $0.10. This formula and the rounding adjustment are set out section 203(a) of the Act. Quarter of Coverage Amount General The earnings required for a quarter of coverage in 2016 is $1,260. A quarter of coverage is the basic unit for determining if a worker is insured under the Social Security program. For years before 1978, we generally credited an individual with a quarter of coverage for each quarter in which wages of $50 or more were paid, or with 4 quarters of coverage for every taxable year in which $400 or more of self-employment income was earned. Beginning in 1978, employers generally report wages yearly instead of quarterly. With the change to yearly reporting, section 352(b) of the Social Security Amendments of 1977 amended section 213(d) of the Act to provide that a quarter of coverage would be credited for each $250 of an individual’s total wages and selfemployment income for calendar year 1978, up to a maximum of 4 quarters of coverage for the year. The 1977 legislation also provided a formula for years after 1978. Computation Under the prescribed formula, the quarter of coverage amount for 2016 is the larger of: (1) The 1978 amount of $250 multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1976; or (2) the current amount of $1,220. Section 213(d) provides that if the resulting amount is not a multiple of $10, we round it to the nearest multiple of $10. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Quarter of Coverage Amount Multiplying the 1978 quarter of coverage amount ($250) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1976 ($9,226.48) produces $1,259.46. We then round this amount to $1,260. Because $1,260 exceeds the current amount of $1,220, the quarter of coverage amount is $1,260 for 2016. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Oct 29, 2015 Jkt 238001 Substantial Gainful Activity Amounts for Non-Blind Disabled Individuals General A finding of disability under titles II and XVI of the Act requires that a person, except for a title XVI disabled child, be unable to engage in SGA. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability. Section 223(d)(4)(A) of the Act specifies a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals under title II while Federal regulations (20 CFR 404.1574 and 416.974) specify a lower SGA amount for non-blind individuals. In a year where there is no cost-of-living increase, we only consider whether the SGA for non-blind disabled individuals will increase. amount for 2001 ($530) multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1999 or (2) the amount for 2015. If the amount so calculated is not a multiple of $10, we round it to the nearest multiple of $10. Trial Work Period Earnings Threshold Amount Multiplying the 2001 monthly earnings threshold ($530) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1999 ($30,469.84) produces $808.51. We then round this amount to $810. Because $810 exceeds the current amount of $780, the monthly earnings threshold is $810 for 2016. Domestic Employee Coverage Threshold General Computation The monthly SGA amount for nonblind disabled individuals for 2016 is the larger of: (1) The amount for 2000 multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1998; or (2) the amount for 2015. If the resulting amount is not a multiple of $10, we round it to the nearest multiple of $10. The minimum amount a domestic worker must earn so that such earnings are covered under Social Security or Medicare is the domestic employee coverage threshold. For 2016, this threshold is $2,000. Section 3121(x) of the Internal Revenue Code provides the formula for increasing the threshold. SGA Amount for Non-Blind Disabled Individuals Multiplying the 2000 monthly SGA amount for non-blind individuals ($700) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1998 ($28,861.44) produces $1,127.35. We then round this amount to $1,130. Because $1,130 exceeds the current amount of $1,090, the monthly SGA amount for non-blind disabled individuals is $1,130 for 2016. Under the formula, the domestic employee coverage threshold for 2016 is equal to the 1995 amount of $1,000 multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1993. If the resulting amount is not a multiple of $100, we round it to the next lower multiple of $100. Trial Work Period Earnings Threshold General During a trial work period of 9 months in a rolling 60-month period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may test the ability to work and still receive monthly benefit payments. To be considered a trial work period month, earnings must be over a certain level. In 2016, any month in which earnings exceed $810 is considered a month of services for an individual’s trial work period. Computation The method used to determine the new amount is set forth in our regulations at 20 CFR 404.1592(b). Monthly earnings in 2016, used to determine whether a month is part of a trial work period, is the larger of (1) the PO 00000 Frm 00101 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Computation Domestic Employee Coverage Threshold Amount Multiplying the 1995 domestic employee coverage threshold ($1,000) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1993 ($23,132.67) produces $2,009.35. We then round this amount to $2,000. Therefore, the domestic employee coverage threshold amount is $2,000 for 2016. Election Official and Election Worker Coverage Threshold General The minimum amount an election official and election worker must earn so the earnings are covered under Social Security or Medicare is the election official and election worker coverage threshold. For 2016, this threshold is $1,700. Section 218(c)(8)(B) of the Act provides the formula for increasing the threshold. E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1 66967 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 210 / Friday, October 30, 2015 / Notices Computation SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION Under the formula, the election official and election worker coverage threshold for 2016 is equal to the 1999 amount of $1,000 multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1997. If the amount we determine is not a multiple of $100, it we round it to the nearest multiple of $100. [Docket No: SSA–2015–0065] Election Official and Election Worker Coverage Threshold Amount Multiplying the 1999 election worker coverage threshold amount ($1,000) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1997 ($27,426.00) produces $1,694.80. We then round this amount to $1,700. Therefore, the election official and election worker coverage threshold amount is $1,700 for 2016. (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: Program Nos. 96.001 Social SecurityDisability Insurance; 96.002 Social SecurityRetirement Insurance; 96.004 Social SecuritySurvivors Insurance; 96.006 Supplemental Security Income) Dated: October 26, 2015. Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. [FR Doc. 2015–27828 Filed 10–29–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4191–02–P Agency Information Collection Activities: Proposed Request and Comment Request The Social Security Administration (SSA) publishes a list of information collection packages requiring clearance by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in compliance with Public Law 104–13, the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, effective October 1, 1995. This notice includes revisions and an extension of OMB-approved information collections. SSA is soliciting comments on the accuracy of the agency’s burden estimate; the need for the information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, utility, and clarity; and ways to minimize burden on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Mail, email, or fax your comments and recommendations on the information collection(s) to the OMB Desk Officer and SSA Reports Clearance Officer at the following addresses or fax numbers. (OMB), Office of Management and Budget, Attn: Desk Officer for SSA, Fax: 202–395–6974, Email address: OIRA_Submission@omb.eop.gov. (SSA), Social Security Administration, OLCA, Attn: Reports Clearance Director, 3100 West High Rise, 6401 Security Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21235, Fax: 410–966–2830, Email address: OR.Reports.Clearance@ssa.gov. Or you may submit your comments online through www.regulations.gov, referencing Docket ID Number [SSA– 2015–0065]. I. The information collections below are pending at SSA. SSA will submit them to OMB within 60 days from the date of this notice. To be sure we consider your comments, we must receive them no later than December 29, 2015. Individuals can obtain copies of the collection instruments by writing to the above email address. 1. Child Relationship Statement—20 CFR 404.355 & 404.731—0960–0116. To help determine a child’s entitlement to Social Security benefits, SSA uses criteria under section 216(h)(3) of the Social Security Act, deemed child provision. SSA may deem a child to an insured individual if: (1) The insured individual presents SSA with satisfactory evidence of parenthood, and was living with or contributing to the child’s support at certain specified times; or (2) the insured individual (a) acknowledged the child in writing; (b) was court decreed as the child’s parent; or (c) was court ordered to support the child. To obtain this information, SSA uses Form SSA–2519, Child Relationship Statement. The respondents are people with knowledge of the relationship between certain individuals filing for Social Security benefits and their alleged biological children. Type of Request: Revision of an OMBapproved information collection. Modality of completion Number of respondents Frequency of response Average burden per response (minutes) Estimated total annual burden (hours) SSA–2519 ........................................................................................................ 50,000 1 15 12,500 2. Request for Reinstatement (Title XVI)—20 CFR 416.999–416.999d— 0960–0744. SSA uses Form SSA–372 to (1) inform previously entitled beneficiaries of the expedited reinstatement (EXR) requirements of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (Act), and (2) document their requests for EXR. We require this application for reinstatement of benefits for respondents to obtain SSI disability payments for EXR. When an SSA claims representative learns of individuals whose medical conditions no longer permit them to perform substantial gainful activity as defined in the Act, the claims representative gives or mails the form to the previously entitled individuals if they request EXR over the phone. SSA employees collect this information whenever an individual files for EXR benefits. The respondents are applicants for EXR of SSI disability payments. Type of Request: Revision of an OMB approved information collection. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Modality of completion Number of respondents Frequency of response Average burden per response (minutes) Estimated total annual burden (hours) SSA–372 .......................................................................................................... 2,000 1 2 67 II. SSA submitted the information collection below to OMB for clearance. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:37 Oct 29, 2015 Jkt 238001 Your comments regarding the information collection would be most PO 00000 Frm 00102 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 useful if OMB and SSA receive them 30 days from the date of this publication. E:\FR\FM\30OCN1.SGM 30OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 210 (Friday, October 30, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 66963-66967]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-27828]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

[Docket No. SSA-2015-0063]


Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2016

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: There will be no cost-of-living increase in Social Security 
benefits effective December 2015. The national average wage index for 
2014 is $46,481.52. The cost-of-living increase and national average 
wage index affect other program parameters as described below.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan C. Kunkel, Office of the Chief 
Actuary, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, 
Baltimore, MD 21235, (410) 965-3000. Information relating to this 
announcement is available on our Internet site at 
www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/index.html. For information on 
eligibility or claiming benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-
0778), or visit our Internet site at www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Under Title II of the Social Security Act 
(Act), there will be no cost-of-living increase effective December 
2015. Because there is no increase, the following items will remain at 
current levels for 2016:
    1. The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance contribution 
and benefit base will remain $118,500 for remuneration paid in 2016 and 
self-employment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2016;
    2. The monthly exempt amounts under the OASDI retirement earnings 
test for taxable years ending in calendar year 2016 will remain $1,310 
for beneficiaries who will attain their

[[Page 66964]]

Normal Retirement Age after 2016 and $3,490 for those who attain such 
age in 2016;
    3. The ``old-law'' contribution and benefit base under title II of 
the Act will remain $88,200 for 2016;
    4. The monthly amount deemed to constitute substantial gainful 
activity (SGA) for statutorily blind persons in 2016 will remain 
$1,820;
    5. The maximum Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly 
benefit amounts for 2016 under title XVI of the Act will remain $733 
for an eligible individual, $1,100 for an eligible individual with an 
eligible spouse, and $367 for an essential person;
    6. The special benefit amount under title VIII of the Act for 
certain World War II veterans will remain $549.75 for 2016;
    7. The student earned income exclusion under title XVI of the Act 
will remain $1,780 per month in 2016, but not more than $7,180 for all 
of 2016;
    8. The dollar fee limit for services performed as a representative 
payee will remain $41 per month ($78 per month in the case of a 
beneficiary who is disabled and has an alcoholism or drug addiction 
condition that leaves him or her incapable of managing benefits) in 
2016; and
    9. The dollar limit on the administrative-cost fee assessment 
charged to an appointed representative such as an attorney, agent, or 
other person who represents claimants will remain $91.
    The national average wage index for 2014 is $46,481.52. This index 
affects the following amounts:
    1. The dollar amounts (``bend points'') used in the primary 
insurance amount (PIA) benefit formula for workers who become eligible 
for benefits, or who die before becoming eligible, in 2016 will be $856 
and $5,157;
    2. The bend points used in the formula for computing maximum family 
benefits for workers who become eligible for benefits, or who die 
before becoming eligible, in 2016 will be $1,093, $1,578, and $2,058;
    3. The taxable earnings a person must have to be credited with a 
quarter of coverage in 2016 will be $1,260;
    4. The monthly amount deemed to constitute SGA for non-blind 
disabled persons will be $1,130 in 2016;
    5. The earnings threshold establishing a month as a part of a trial 
work period will be $810 for 2016; and
    6. Coverage thresholds for 2016 will be $2,000 for domestic workers 
and $1,700 for election officials and election workers.
    The Act requires that we publish the following by November 1: The 
national average wage index for 2014 (215(a)(1)(D)), the earnings 
required to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2016 (section 
213(d)(2)), the formula for computing a PIA for workers who first 
become eligible for benefits or die in 2016 (section 215(a)(1)(D)), and 
the formula for computing the maximum benefits payable to the family of 
a worker who first becomes eligible for old-age benefits or dies in 
2016 (section 203(a)(2)(C)).

Cost-of-Living Increases

General

    There will be no cost-of-living increase for benefits under titles 
II and XVI of the Act.

Computation

    Computation of the cost-of-living increase is based on an increase 
in a Consumer Price Index produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
At the time the Act was amended to provide cost-of-living increases, 
only one Consumer Price Index existed, namely the Consumer Price Index 
for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. Although the Bureau of 
Labor Statistics has since developed other consumer price indices, we 
follow legal precedent by continuing to use the Consumer Price Index 
for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. We refer to this index in 
the following paragraphs as the CPI.
    Section 215(i)(1)(B) of the Act defines a ``computation quarter'' 
to be a third calendar quarter in which the average CPI exceeded the 
average CPI in the previous computation quarter. The last cost-of-
living increase, effective for those eligible to receive title II 
benefits for December 2014, was based on the CPI increase from the 
third quarter of 2013 to the third quarter of 2014. Therefore, the last 
computation quarter is the third quarter of 2014. The law states that a 
cost-of-living increase for benefits is determined based on the 
percentage increase, if any, in the CPI from the last computation 
quarter to the third quarter of the current year. Therefore, we compute 
any increase in the CPI from the third quarter of 2014 to the third 
quarter of 2015.
    Section 215(i)(1) of the Act states that the CPI for a cost-of-
living computation quarter is the arithmetic mean of this index for the 
3 months in that quarter. In accordance with 20 CFR 404.275, we round 
the arithmetic mean, if necessary, to the nearest 0.001. The CPI for 
each month in the quarter ending September 30, 2014, is: For July 2014, 
234.525; for August 2014, 234.030; and for September 2014, 234.170. The 
arithmetic mean for the calendar quarter ending September 30, 2014 is 
234.242. The CPI for each month in the quarter ending September 30, 
2015, is: For July 2015, 233.806; for August 2015, 233.366; and for 
September 2015, 232.661. The arithmetic mean for the calendar quarter 
ending September 30, 2015 is 233.278. The CPI for the calendar quarter 
ending September 30, 2015 is less than that for the calendar quarter 
ending September 30, 2014. Therefore, the calendar quarter ending 
September 30, 2015 is not a cost-of-living computation quarter and 
there is no cost-of-living increase.

Program Amounts That Change Based on the Cost-of-Living Increase

    The following program amounts normally change based on the cost-of-
living increase: (1) Title II benefits; (2) title XVI benefits; (3) 
title VIII benefits; (4) the student earned income exclusion; (5) the 
fee for services performed by a representative payee; and (6) the 
appointed representative fee assessment. Because there will be no cost-
of-living increase, these program amounts will not increase in 2016 and 
will remain at their 2015 levels.

Program Amounts That Change Based on the National Average Wage Index, 
But Only When There Is a Cost-of-Living Increase

    Certain other program amounts are adjusted annually based on the 
change in the national average wage index, rather than the CPI 
increase, but only if there also is a cost-of-living increase that year 
(as determined under section 215(i) of the Act). These amounts include 
(1) the OASDI contribution and benefit base, (2) the exempt amounts 
under the retirement earnings test, (3) the ``old-law'' contribution 
and benefit base (as determined under section 230 of the Act as in 
effect before the 1977 amendments), and (4) the SGA amount applicable 
to statutorily blind individuals. Because there is no cost-of-living 
increase this year, these amounts will not increase in 2016 and will 
remain at their 2015 levels.

Program Amounts That Change Based on the National Average Wage Index, 
Without Regard to the Cost-of-Living Increase

    Some program amounts are adjusted annually based on the change in 
the national average wage index whether there is a cost-of-living 
increase in that year or not. These include:
    1. The dollar amounts, or bend points, in the PIA formula;

[[Page 66965]]

    2. The bend points in the maximum family benefit formula;
    3. The earnings required to credit a worker with a quarter of 
coverage;
    4. The SGA amount for non-blind disabled individuals;
    5. The earnings threshold that establishes a month as part of a 
trial work period for disabled beneficiaries;
    6. The coverage threshold for election officials and election 
workers; and
    7. The domestic employee coverage threshold.
    These amounts will increase in 2016 based on the change in the 
national average wage. In the sections that follow, we explain the 
calculation of the percentage change in the national average wage and 
the corresponding changes in each of these program amounts.

National Average Wage Index for 2014

Computation

    We determined the national average wage index for calendar year 
2014 based on the 2013 national average wage index of $44,888.16, 
published in the Federal Register on October 29, 2014 (79 FR 64455), 
and the percentage increase in average wages from 2013 to 2014, as 
measured by annual wage data. We tabulate the annual wage data, 
including contributions to deferred compensation plans, as required by 
section 209(k) of the Act. The average amounts of wages calculated from 
these data were $43,041.39 for 2013 and $44,569.20 for 2014. To 
determine the national average wage index for 2014 at a level 
consistent with the national average wage indexing series for 1951 
through 1977 (published December 29, 1978, at 43 FR 61016), we multiply 
the 2013 national average wage index of $44,888.16 by the percentage 
increase in average wages from 2013 to 2014 (based on SSA-tabulated 
wage data) as follows. We round the result to the nearest cent.

National Average Wage Index Amount

    Multiplying the national average wage index for 2013 ($44,888.16) 
by the ratio of the average wage for 2014 ($44,569.20) to that for 2013 
($43,041.39) produces the 2014 index, $46,481.52. The national average 
wage index for calendar year 2014 is about 3.55 percent higher than the 
2013 index.

Primary Insurance Amount Benefit Formula

General

    The Social Security Amendments of 1977 provided a method for 
computing benefits that generally applies when a worker first becomes 
eligible for benefits after 1978. This method uses the worker's average 
indexed monthly earnings (AIME) to compute the PIA. We adjust the 
formula each year to reflect changes in general wage levels, as 
measured by the national average wage index.
    We also adjust, or index, a worker's earnings to reflect the change 
in the general wage levels that occurred during the worker's years of 
employment. Such indexing ensures that a worker's future benefit level 
will reflect the general rise in the standard of living that will occur 
during his or her working lifetime. To compute the AIME, we first 
determine the required number of years of earnings. We then select the 
number of years with the highest indexed earnings, add the indexed 
earnings for those years, and divide the total amount by the total 
number of months in those years. We then round the resulting average 
amount down to the next lower dollar amount. The result is the AIME.

Computing the PIA

    The PIA is the sum of three separate percentages of portions of the 
AIME. In 1979 (the first year the formula was in effect), these 
portions were the first $180, the amount between $180 and $1,085, and 
the amount over $1,085. We call the dollar amounts in the formula 
governing the portions of the AIME the ``bend points'' of the formula. 
Therefore, the bend points for 1979 were $180 and $1,085.
    To obtain the bend points for 2016, we multiply each of the 1979 
bend-point amounts by the ratio of the national average wage index for 
2014 to that average for 1977. We then round these results to the 
nearest dollar. Multiplying the 1979 amounts of $180 and $1,085 by the 
ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that 
for 1977 ($9,779.44) produces the amounts of $855.54 and $5,156.99. We 
round these to $856 and $5,157. Therefore, the portions of the AIME to 
be used in 2016 are the first $856, the amount between $856 and $5,157, 
and the amount over $5,157.
    Therefore, for individuals who first become eligible for old-age 
insurance benefits or disability insurance benefits in 2016, or who die 
in 2016 before becoming eligible for benefits, their PIA will be the 
sum of:

(a) 90 percent of the first $856 of their AIME, plus
(b) 32 percent of their AIME over $856 and through $5,157, plus
(c) 15 percent of their AIME over $5,157

    We round this amount to the next lower multiple of $0.10 if it is 
not already a multiple of $0.10. This formula and the rounding 
adjustment are stated in section 215(a) of the Act.

Maximum Benefits Payable to a Family

General

    The 1977 amendments continued the policy of limiting the total 
monthly benefits that a worker's family may receive based on the 
worker's PIA. Those amendments also continued the relationship between 
maximum family benefits and PIAs but changed the method of computing 
the maximum benefits that may be paid to a worker's family. The Social 
Security Disability Amendments of 1980 (Pub. L. 96-265) established a 
formula for computing the maximum benefits payable to the family of a 
disabled worker. This formula applies to the family benefits of workers 
who first become entitled to disability insurance benefits after June 
30, 1980, and who first become eligible for these benefits after 1978. 
For disabled workers initially entitled to disability benefits before 
July 1980 or whose disability began before 1979, we compute the family 
maximum payable the same as the old-age and survivor family maximum.

Computing the Old-Age and Survivor Family Maximum

    The formula used to compute the family maximum is similar to that 
used to compute the PIA. It involves computing the sum of four separate 
percentages of portions of the worker's PIA. In 1979, these portions 
were the first $230, the amount between $230 and $332, the amount 
between $332 and $433, and the amount over $433. We refer to such 
dollar amounts in the formula as the ``bend points'' of the family-
maximum formula.
    To obtain the bend points for 2016, we multiply each of the 1979 
bend-point amounts by the ratio of the national average wage index for 
2014 to that average for 1977. Then we round this amount to the nearest 
dollar. Multiplying the amounts of $230, $332, and $433 by the ratio of 
the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 1977 
($9,779.44) produces the amounts of $1,093.19, $1,577.99, and 
$2,058.04. We round these amounts to $1,093, $1,578, and $2,058. 
Therefore, the portions of the PIAs to be used in 2016 are the first 
$1,093, the amount between $1,093 and $1,578, the amount between $1,578 
and $2,058, and the amount over $2,058.
    Thus, for the family of a worker who becomes age 62 or dies in 2016 
before age 62, we will compute the total benefits payable to them so 
that it does not exceed:


[[Page 66966]]


(a) 150 percent of the first $1,093 of the worker's PIA, plus
(b) 272 percent of the worker's PIA over $1,093 through $1,578, plus
(c) 134 percent of the worker's PIA over $1,578 through $2,058, plus
(d) 175 percent of the worker's PIA over $2,058

    We then round this amount to the next lower multiple of $0.10 if it 
is not already a multiple of $0.10. This formula and the rounding 
adjustment are set out section 203(a) of the Act.

Quarter of Coverage Amount

General

    The earnings required for a quarter of coverage in 2016 is $1,260. 
A quarter of coverage is the basic unit for determining if a worker is 
insured under the Social Security program. For years before 1978, we 
generally credited an individual with a quarter of coverage for each 
quarter in which wages of $50 or more were paid, or with 4 quarters of 
coverage for every taxable year in which $400 or more of self-
employment income was earned. Beginning in 1978, employers generally 
report wages yearly instead of quarterly. With the change to yearly 
reporting, section 352(b) of the Social Security Amendments of 1977 
amended section 213(d) of the Act to provide that a quarter of coverage 
would be credited for each $250 of an individual's total wages and 
self-employment income for calendar year 1978, up to a maximum of 4 
quarters of coverage for the year. The 1977 legislation also provided a 
formula for years after 1978.

Computation

    Under the prescribed formula, the quarter of coverage amount for 
2016 is the larger of: (1) The 1978 amount of $250 multiplied by the 
ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1976; or 
(2) the current amount of $1,220. Section 213(d) provides that if the 
resulting amount is not a multiple of $10, we round it to the nearest 
multiple of $10.

Quarter of Coverage Amount

    Multiplying the 1978 quarter of coverage amount ($250) by the ratio 
of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 
1976 ($9,226.48) produces $1,259.46. We then round this amount to 
$1,260. Because $1,260 exceeds the current amount of $1,220, the 
quarter of coverage amount is $1,260 for 2016.

Substantial Gainful Activity Amounts for Non-Blind Disabled Individuals

General

    A finding of disability under titles II and XVI of the Act requires 
that a person, except for a title XVI disabled child, be unable to 
engage in SGA. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly 
amount is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The monthly 
earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person's 
disability. Section 223(d)(4)(A) of the Act specifies a higher SGA 
amount for statutorily blind individuals under title II while Federal 
regulations (20 CFR 404.1574 and 416.974) specify a lower SGA amount 
for non-blind individuals. In a year where there is no cost-of-living 
increase, we only consider whether the SGA for non-blind disabled 
individuals will increase.

Computation

    The monthly SGA amount for non-blind disabled individuals for 2016 
is the larger of: (1) The amount for 2000 multiplied by the ratio of 
the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1998; or (2) the 
amount for 2015. If the resulting amount is not a multiple of $10, we 
round it to the nearest multiple of $10.

SGA Amount for Non-Blind Disabled Individuals

    Multiplying the 2000 monthly SGA amount for non-blind individuals 
($700) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 
($46,481.52) to that for 1998 ($28,861.44) produces $1,127.35. We then 
round this amount to $1,130. Because $1,130 exceeds the current amount 
of $1,090, the monthly SGA amount for non-blind disabled individuals is 
$1,130 for 2016.

Trial Work Period Earnings Threshold

General

    During a trial work period of 9 months in a rolling 60-month 
period, a beneficiary receiving Social Security disability benefits may 
test the ability to work and still receive monthly benefit payments. To 
be considered a trial work period month, earnings must be over a 
certain level. In 2016, any month in which earnings exceed $810 is 
considered a month of services for an individual's trial work period.

Computation

    The method used to determine the new amount is set forth in our 
regulations at 20 CFR 404.1592(b). Monthly earnings in 2016, used to 
determine whether a month is part of a trial work period, is the larger 
of (1) the amount for 2001 ($530) multiplied by the ratio of the 
national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1999 or (2) the amount 
for 2015. If the amount so calculated is not a multiple of $10, we 
round it to the nearest multiple of $10.

Trial Work Period Earnings Threshold Amount

    Multiplying the 2001 monthly earnings threshold ($530) by the ratio 
of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) to that for 
1999 ($30,469.84) produces $808.51. We then round this amount to $810. 
Because $810 exceeds the current amount of $780, the monthly earnings 
threshold is $810 for 2016.

Domestic Employee Coverage Threshold

General

    The minimum amount a domestic worker must earn so that such 
earnings are covered under Social Security or Medicare is the domestic 
employee coverage threshold. For 2016, this threshold is $2,000. 
Section 3121(x) of the Internal Revenue Code provides the formula for 
increasing the threshold.

Computation

    Under the formula, the domestic employee coverage threshold for 
2016 is equal to the 1995 amount of $1,000 multiplied by the ratio of 
the national average wage index for 2014 to that for 1993. If the 
resulting amount is not a multiple of $100, we round it to the next 
lower multiple of $100.

Domestic Employee Coverage Threshold Amount

    Multiplying the 1995 domestic employee coverage threshold ($1,000) 
by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 ($46,481.52) 
to that for 1993 ($23,132.67) produces $2,009.35. We then round this 
amount to $2,000. Therefore, the domestic employee coverage threshold 
amount is $2,000 for 2016.

Election Official and Election Worker Coverage Threshold

General

    The minimum amount an election official and election worker must 
earn so the earnings are covered under Social Security or Medicare is 
the election official and election worker coverage threshold. For 2016, 
this threshold is $1,700. Section 218(c)(8)(B) of the Act provides the 
formula for increasing the threshold.

[[Page 66967]]

Computation

    Under the formula, the election official and election worker 
coverage threshold for 2016 is equal to the 1999 amount of $1,000 
multiplied by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 to 
that for 1997. If the amount we determine is not a multiple of $100, it 
we round it to the nearest multiple of $100.

Election Official and Election Worker Coverage Threshold Amount

    Multiplying the 1999 election worker coverage threshold amount 
($1,000) by the ratio of the national average wage index for 2014 
($46,481.52) to that for 1997 ($27,426.00) produces $1,694.80. We then 
round this amount to $1,700. Therefore, the election official and 
election worker coverage threshold amount is $1,700 for 2016.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: Program Nos. 96.001 Social 
Security-Disability Insurance; 96.002 Social Security-Retirement 
Insurance; 96.004 Social Security-Survivors Insurance; 96.006 
Supplemental Security Income)

    Dated: October 26, 2015.
Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.
[FR Doc. 2015-27828 Filed 10-29-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P