Returning Evidence at the Appeals Council Level, 6170-6171 [2016-02267]

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 24 (Friday, February 5, 2016)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 6170-6171]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-02267]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404 and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2013-0061]
RIN 0960-AH64


Returning Evidence at the Appeals Council Level

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This final rule adopts the notice of proposed rulemaking 
(NPRM) that we published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2015. 
This final rule revises our rules regarding returning evidence at the 
Appeals Council (AC) level. Under this final rule, the AC will no 
longer return additional evidence it receives when the AC determines 
the additional evidence does not relate to the period on or before the 
date of the administrative law judge (ALJ) decision.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective February 5, 2016.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Maren Weight, Office of Appellate 
Operations, Social Security Administration, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls 
Church, VA 22041, 703-605-7100. For information on eligibility or 
filing for benefits, call our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 
or TTY 1-800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security 
Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This final rule adopts the NPRM that we 
published in the Federal Register on October 21, 2015.\1\
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    \1\ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-10-21/pdf/2015-26747.pdf
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Background

    In the NPRM, we provided a 30-day comment period, which ended on 
November 20, 2015. We received no comments. We explained our reasons 
for proposing the rule which we are now adopting as a final rule in the 
preamble to the NPRM (80 FR at 63718-63719), and we incorporate that 
discussion here.

Regulatory Procedures

Good Cause for Effective Date

    We find good cause for dispensing with the 30-day delay in the 
effective date of this final rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). For the reasons 
discussed in the preamble to the NPRM, we are making a minor change to 
our current rules by discontinuing the practice of having the AC return 
additional evidence that it receives when the AC determines the 
additional evidence does not relate to the period on or before the date 
of the ALJ's decision. We now use many electronic services that make 
the practice of returning evidence unnecessary. For example, we now 
scan most of the medical evidence into the electronic claim(s) file or 
appointed representatives submit it through our Electronic Records 
Express system. This technology immediately uploads records into a 
claimant's electronic folder, making the records available for review 
in real time. As a result, it is neither administratively efficient nor 
cost effective for us to print out documents that have been submitted 
to us electronically by a claimant or appointed representative in order 
to return them to the claimant.
    The change we are making in this final rule will allow us to better 
utilize our limited administrative resources. For these reasons, we 
find that it is unnecessary and contrary to the public interest to 
delay the effective date of our final rule.

Executive Order 12866 as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563

    We consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
determined that this final rule does not meet the criteria for a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 as 
supplemented by Executive Order 13563. Thus, OMB did not review the 
final rule.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that this final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it 
applies to individuals only. Thus, a regulatory flexibility analysis is 
not required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    These Final Rules do not create any new or affect any existing 
collections and, therefore, do not require Office of Management and 
Budget approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

(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; and 96.006, 
Supplemental Security Income)

List of Subjects

20 CFR Part 404

    Administrative practice and procedure; Blind; Disability benefits; 
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance; Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements; Social Security.

20 CFR Part 416

    Administrative practice and procedure; Aged, Blind, Disability 
benefits, Public Assistance programs; Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements; Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR chapter 
III, part 404 and part 416, as set forth below:

PART 404--FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE 
(1950- )

Subpart J--Determinations, Administrative Review Process, and 
Reopening of Determinations and Decisions

0
1. The authority citation for subpart J of part 404 continues to read 
as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 201(j), 204(f), 205(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (j), 
221, 223(i), 225, and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 
U.S.C. 401(j), 404(f), 405(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (j), 421, 423(i), 
425, and 902(a)(5)); sec. 5, Pub. L. 97-455, 96 Stat. 2500 (42 
U.S.C. 405 note); secs. 5, 6(c)-

[[Page 6171]]

(e), and 15, Pub. L. 98-460, 98 Stat. 1802 (42 U.S.C. 421 note); 
sec. 202, Pub. L. 108-203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).


0
2. In Sec.  404.976, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.976  Procedures before Appeals Council on review.

* * * * *
    (b) * * * (1) The Appeals Council will consider all the evidence in 
the administrative law judge hearing record as well as any new and 
material evidence submitted to it that relates to the period on or 
before the date of the administrative law judge hearing decision. If 
you submit evidence that does not relate to the period on or before the 
date of the administrative law judge hearing decision, the Appeals 
Council will explain why it did not accept the additional evidence and 
will advise you of your right to file a new application. The notice 
will also advise you that if you file a new application within 6 months 
after the date of the Appeals Council's notice, your request for review 
will constitute a written statement indicating an intent to claim 
benefits in accordance with Sec.  404.630. If you file a new 
application within 6 months of the date of this notice, we will use the 
date of the request for review as the filing date for your application.
* * * * *

PART 416--SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME FOR THE AGED, BLIND, AND 
DISABLED

Subpart N--Determinations, Administrative Review Process, and 
Reopening of Determinations and Decisions

0
3. The authority citation for subpart N of part 416 continues to read 
as follows:

    Authority:  Secs. 702(a)(5), 1631, and 1633 of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1383, and 1383b); sec. 202, Pub. 
L. 108-203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).


0
4. In Sec.  416.1476, revise paragraph (b)(1) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.1476  Procedures before Appeals Council on review.

* * * * *
    (b) * * * (1) In reviewing decisions based on an application for 
benefits, the Appeals Council will consider the evidence in the 
administrative law judge hearing record as well as any new and material 
evidence submitted to it that relates to the period on or before the 
date of the administrative law judge hearing decision. If you submit 
evidence that does not relate to the period on or before the date of 
the administrative law judge hearing decision, the Appeals Council will 
explain why it did not accept the additional evidence and will advise 
you of your right to file a new application. The notice will also 
advise you that if you file a new application within 60 days after the 
date of the Appeals Council's notice, your request for review will 
constitute a written statement indicating an intent to claim benefits 
in accordance with Sec.  416.340. If you file a new application within 
60 days of the date of this notice, we will use the date of the request 
for review as the filing date for your application.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2016-02267 Filed 2-4-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4191-02-P