Prohibiting Persons With Certain Criminal Convictions From Serving as Representative Payees, 4323-4326 [2019-02483]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations of the local flight standards district office/ certificate holding district office. (j) Related Information For more information about this AD, contact Jo-Ann Theriault, Aerospace Engineer, ECO Branch, FAA, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803; phone: 781– 238–7105; fax: 781–238–7199; email: joann.theriault@faa.gov. (k) Material Incorporated by Reference (1) The Director of the Federal Register approved the incorporation by reference (IBR) of the service information listed in this paragraph under 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 CFR part 51. (2) You must use this service information as applicable to do the actions required by this AD, unless the AD specifies otherwise. (3) The following service information was approved for IBR on March 22, 2019. (i) Pratt & Whitney Alert Service Bulletin PW4G–112–A72–268, Revision No. 7, dated September 6, 2018. (ii) [Reserved]. (4) For Pratt & Whitney service information identified in this AD, contact Pratt & Whitney Division, 400 Main Street, East Hartford, CT, 06118; phone: 800–565–0140; fax: 860–565– 5442; email: help24@pw.utc.com. (5) You may view this service information at the FAA, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, 1200 District Avenue, Burlington, MA 01803. For information on the availability of this material at the FAA, call 781–238–7759. (6) You may view this service information that is incorporated by reference at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the availability of this material at NARA, call 202–741–6030, or go to: http:// www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/ibrlocations.html. Issued in Burlington, Massachusetts, on February 7, 2019. Robert J. Ganley, Manager, Engine and Propeller Standards Branch, Aircraft Certification Service. [FR Doc. 2019–02453 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 20 CFR Parts 404, 408, and 416 [Docket No. SSA–2015–0006] RIN 0960–AH78 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Prohibiting Persons With Certain Criminal Convictions From Serving as Representative Payees Social Security Administration. Final rules. AGENCY: ACTION: We are finalizing our proposed regulations on conducting background checks to prohibit persons convicted of certain crimes from serving as representative payees under the SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 Social Security Act (Act), as required by the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018. DATES: These final rules will be effective March 18, 2019. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Salamone, Office of Income Security Programs, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235–6401, (410) 966–0854. 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: Background Representative payees manage benefit payments for beneficiaries or recipients who are incapable, due to a mental or physical impairment, of managing their Social Security, Special Veterans Benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, or of directing another person to manage those payments. Generally, if a beneficiary or recipient is under age 18, we will pay benefits to a representative payee; however, in certain situations, we make direct payments to a beneficiary under age 18 who shows the ability to manage the benefits.1 In cases where the beneficiary or recipient is 18 years or older, we select a representative payee if we believe that payment of benefits through a representative payee, rather than direct payment to the beneficiary, will better serve the beneficiary’s interest. A representative payee may be an organization, such as a social service agency, or a person, such as a parent, relative, or friend of the beneficiary. We require a representative payee to use benefits in the beneficiary’s best interest and, with certain exceptions, to report expenditures to us to ensure the representative payee is using funds appropriately.2 When a person or an organization requests to serve as a representative payee, we investigate the potential 1 We use the word ‘‘beneficiary’’ to include both beneficiaries and recipients. 2 Representative payees may receive an annual Representative Payee Report to account for the benefit payments received. In accordance with section 102 of the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018, Public Law 115–165, 132 Stat. 1257, 1260, we no longer require the following payees to complete an annual Representative Payee Report: (1) Natural or adoptive parents of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the child; (2) a legal guardian of a minor child beneficiary who primarily resides in the same household as the child; (3) Natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household with the beneficiary; and (4) the spouse of a beneficiary. PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 4323 representative payee to help ensure that the person or organization will perform the duties of a representative payee responsibly. We look at factors such as the potential representative payee’s relationship to the beneficiary, any past performance as a representative payee for other beneficiaries, and any criminal history. On April 13, 2018, the President signed into law the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018.3 Section 202 of the law 4 codifies our current policy to conduct criminal background checks on representative payee applicants and to prohibit the selection of certain representative payee applicants who have a felony conviction of committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit certain crimes.5 In addition, the new law requires that we conduct criminal background checks on all currently serving representative payees who do not meet one of the exceptions set out in the law, and continue to do so at least once every five years.6 On October 11, 2018, we published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register.7 In the NPRM, we proposed to codify the requirements of section 202 to conduct background checks on representative payee applicants and to prohibit those representative payee applicants and representative payees with the statutorily enumerated felony convictions 8 from serving as a 3 Public Law 115–165, 132 Stat. 1257. Stat. at 1267. 5 Section 202(d) of the law, 132 Stat. at 1271, provides that the requirements of section 202 ‘‘shall apply with respect to any individual appointed to serve as a representative payee pursuant to section 205(j), 807, or 1631(a)(2) of the Social Security Act on or after January 1, 2019.’’ 6 Section 202(e) of Public Law 115–165, 132 Stat. at 1271–72. We may not apply these prohibitions as an absolute bar to serving as a representative payee if the representative payee applicant is the custodial parent of the minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of a beneficiary who is under a disability which began before the beneficiary attained age 22, custodial spouse of the beneficiary, custodial grandparent of the minor child beneficiary, custodial court-appointed guardian of the beneficiary, parent who was previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who since turned age 18 and continued to be eligible for benefits; or if the representative payee applicant received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the conviction. 7 83 FR 51400. https://www.federalregister.gov/ documents/2018/10/11/2018-22168/prohibitingpersons-with-certain-criminalconvictions-fromserving-as-representative-payees. 8 We proposed to add a new paragraph to §§ 404.2022 and 416.622 of our regulations to reflect the felony prohibitions in the legislation. We are prohibited from selecting representative payee applicants with a felony conviction of: (1) Human trafficking, (2) false imprisonment, (3) kidnapping, (4) rape and sexual assault, (5) first-degree 4 132 E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM Continued 15FER1 4324 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations representative payee. We also proposed to implement the requirement that we conduct criminal background checks on all currently serving representative payees who do not meet one of the exceptions established in the law, and that we will continue to do so at least once every five years. We are adopting the proposed changes as final rules without revision. In response to the NPRM, we received 11 timely submitted comments that addressed issues within the scope of our proposed rules. The comments are available through the eRulemaking docket, available online at www.regulations.gov, and then navigating to this rulemaking docket, SSA–2015–0006. Public Comments and Discussion khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES Comment: Some commenters objected to the proposed rules in their entirety, stating that prohibiting individuals convicted of the specified felonies from being representative payees is discriminatory against these individuals based on their legal status as convicted felons. In a related concern, other commenters who objected to the proposed rule maintained that we should provide statistical data demonstrating that (1) felons exploited their role as representative payees, or (2) prohibiting a convicted felon from serving as a representative payee results in more protection for beneficiaries. Response: We acknowledge the commenters’ concerns regarding these prohibitions. However, these rules restate the statutory prohibitions enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President, and as such we do not have the discretion to adopt the commenters’ suggestions. Comment: Other commenters asked whether there was a statute of limitations on our review of past criminal convictions, indicating that a criminal conviction, even for one of the crimes specified in the proposed rule, should be disregarded after a long enough period of time has lapsed after the conviction. In this regard, commenters also asked which crimes will be included in our criminal background checks. Response: The enacted statute and these final rules do not provide an exception based on how long in the past homicide, (6) robbery, (7) fraud to obtain access to government assistance, (8) fraud by scheme, (9) theft of government funds or property, (10) abuse or neglect, (11) forgery, or (12) identity theft or identity fraud. As further provided in §§ 404.2022(f) and 416.622(f), we will also prohibit the selection of a representative payee applicant with a felony conviction of an attempt to commit any of these crimes or conspiracy to commit any of these crimes. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 a criminal conviction for one of the prohibited felonies may have occurred. Our criminal background checks look for all convictions for the prohibited felonies in the background history of a representative payee applicant and existing representative payees. Regarding the issue of which crimes will be included in our criminal background checks: Both the statute and this regulation list the specific crimes that prohibit individuals from becoming representative payees. However, we consider and evaluate all available information when we evaluate the suitability of a representative payee applicant. Accordingly, if our criminal background checks reveal convictions for a crime other than the ones listed as a qualifying bar in the statute and in this regulation, we may consider those convictions when we determine whether an applicant will be a suitable representative payee. While the convictions listed in the statute and in this regulation result in prohibition from serving as a representative payee, unless specifically excepted, we will not consider other convictions to absolutely prohibit the representative payee applicant from being selected as a representative payee. Comment: Other commenters questioned whether a conviction for a prohibited felony would bar a person from serving as a representative payee for elderly parents or grandparents, or what would happen if a beneficiary only has prospective representative payees barred by these rules. Response: The enacted statute and these final rules do not provide an exception for a child or grandchild with a prohibited felony to serve as a representative payee for either a parent or grandparent. However, under the statute and our rules, if the child or grandchild is the custodial courtappointed guardian of the beneficiary, or has received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the conviction, we would not consider the conviction an absolute bar to serving as the representative payee. Comment: One commenter disagreed with our usage of the term ‘‘custody’’ and ‘‘custodial spouse’’ because individuals who live at home with family, or in a group home, should not be interpreted as being in the family’s custody. This commenter made suggestions for alternate language. Response: We acknowledge the commenter’s concern regarding the terminology, particularly in common usage. However, our use of ‘‘custodial’’ directly reflects the enacted statutory language. PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Regulatory Procedures Executive Order 12866 as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563 We consulted with 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 formally review the final rule. Executive Order 13771 This final rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive Order 13771 because it is administrative in nature and results in no more than de minimis costs. 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 affects only individuals. Therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. Paperwork Reduction Act These 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. What is our authority to make rules and set procedures for determining whether a person is disabled under the statutory definition? The Act authorizes us to make rules and regulations and to establish necessary and appropriate procedures to implement them.9 (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; and 96.020—Special Benefits for Certain World War II Veterans) List of Subjects 20 CFR Part 404 Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Blind, Disability benefits, Disability insurance, Old-Age, Survivors, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security. 20 CFR Part 408 Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans. 9 Sections E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 205(a), 702(a)(5), and 1631(d)(1). 15FER1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations 20 CFR Part 416 Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Blind, Disability benefits, Public assistance programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. For the reasons stated in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR chapter III, parts 404, 408, and 416 as set forth below: PART 404—FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE (1950–) Subpart U—Representative Payment 1. The authority citation for subpart U of part 404 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 205(a), (j), and (k), and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(a), (j), and (k), and 902(a)(5)). 2. Amend § 404.2020 by revising paragraphs (d) and (e) and adding paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ § 404.2020 Information considered in selecting a representative payee. * * * * * (d) Whether the potential payee has custody of the beneficiary; (e) Whether the potential payee is in a position to know of and look after the needs of the beneficiary; and (f) The potential payee’s criminal history. ■ 3. Amend § 404.2022 by adding paragraph (f) to read as follows: § 404.2022 Who may not serve as a representative payee? khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES * * * * * (f) Was convicted under Federal or State law of a felony for: Human trafficking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape or sexual assault, firstdegree homicide, robbery, fraud to obtain access to government assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, abuse or neglect, forgery, or identity theft or identity fraud. We will also apply this provision to a representative payee applicant with a felony conviction of an attempt to commit any of these crimes or conspiracy to commit any of these crimes. (1) If the representative payee applicant is the custodial parent of a minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of a beneficiary who is under a disability which began before the beneficiary attained the age of 22, custodial spouse of a beneficiary, custodial court-appointed guardian of a VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 beneficiary, or custodial grandparent of the minor child beneficiary for whom the applicant is applying to serve as representative payee, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. (2) If the representative payee applicant is the parent who was previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who has since turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee for that beneficiary. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. (3) If the representative payee applicant received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the relevant conviction, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. ■ 4. Amend § 404.2024 by revising paragraph (a)(9) and adding paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows: § 404.2024 How do we investigate a representative payee applicant? * * * * * (a) * * * (9) Determine whether the payee applicant is a creditor of the beneficiary (see § 404.2022(e)). (10) Conduct a criminal background check on the payee applicant. * * * * * ■ 5. Add § 404.2026 to read as follows: PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 4325 § 404.2026 How do we investigate an appointed representative payee? After we select an individual or organization to act as your representative payee, we will conduct a criminal background check on the appointed representative payee at least once every 5 years. PART 408—SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR CERTAIN WORLD WAR II VETERANS Subpart F—Representative Payment 6. The authority citation for subpart F of part 408 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 807, and 810 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1007, and 1010). ■ 7. Add § 408.626 to read as follows: § 408.626 How do we investigate an appointed representative payee? After we select an individual or organization as your representative payee, we investigate him or her following the rules in § 404.2026 of this chapter. PART 416—SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME FOR THE AGED, BLIND, AND DISABLED Subpart F—Representative Payment 8. The authority citation for subpart F of part 416 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1631(a)(2) and (d)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5) and 1383(a)(2) and (d)(1)). 9. Amend § 416.620 by revising paragraphs (d) and (e) and adding paragraph (f) to read as follows: ■ § 416.620 Information considered in selecting a representative payee. * * * * * (d) Whether the potential payee has custody of the beneficiary; (e) Whether the potential payee is in a position to know of and look after the needs of the beneficiary; and (f) The potential payee’s criminal history. ■ 10. Amend § 416.622 by adding paragraph (f) to read as follows: § 416.622 Who may not serve as a representative payee? * * * * * (f) Was convicted under Federal or State law of a felony for: Human trafficking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape or sexual assault, firstdegree homicide, robbery, fraud to obtain access to government assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, abuse or neglect, forgery, or identity theft or identity fraud. We will also apply this provision E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1 khammond on DSKBBV9HB2PROD with RULES 4326 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 32 / Friday, February 15, 2019 / Rules and Regulations to a representative payee applicant with a felony conviction of an attempt to commit any of these crimes or conspiracy to commit any of these crimes. (1) If the representative payee applicant is the custodial parent of a minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of a beneficiary who is under a disability which began before the beneficiary attained the age of 22, custodial spouse of a beneficiary, custodial court-appointed guardian of a beneficiary, or custodial grandparent of the minor child beneficiary for whom the applicant is applying to serve as representative payee, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. (2) If the representative payee applicant is the parent who was previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who has since turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee for that beneficiary. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. (3) If the representative payee applicant received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the relevant conviction, we will not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a representative payee. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:03 Feb 14, 2019 Jkt 247001 11. Amend § 416.624 by revising paragraph (a)(9) and adding paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows: ■ § 416.624 How do we investigate a representative payee applicant? * * * * * (a)* * * (9) Determine whether the payee applicant is a creditor of the beneficiary (see § 416.622(e)). (10) Conduct a criminal background check on the payee applicant. * * * * * ■ 12. Add § 416.626 to read as follows: § 416.626 How do we investigate an appointed representative payee? After we select an individual or organization to act as your representative payee, we will conduct a criminal background check on the appointed representative payee at least once every 5 years. [FR Doc. 2019–02483 Filed 2–14–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4191–02–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary 32 CFR Part 199 [Docket ID: DOD–2017–HA–0039] RIN 0720–AB70 Establishment of TRICARE Select and Other TRICARE Reforms Office of the Secretary, Department of Defense (DoD). ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: This final rule implements the primary features of section 701 and partially implements several other sections of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (NDAA–17). The law makes significant changes to the TRICARE program, especially to the health maintenance organization (HMO)-like health plan, known as TRICARE Prime; to the preferred provider organization (PPO) health plan, previously known as TRICARE Extra and replaced by TRICARE Select; and to the third health care option, known as TRICARE Standard, which was terminated December 31, 2017, and is also replaced by TRICARE Select. The statute also adopts a new health plan enrollment system under TRICARE and new provisions for access to care, high value services, preventive care, and healthy lifestyles. In implementing the statutory changes, this final rule makes a number of improvements to TRICARE. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 DATES: This rule is effective March 18, 2019. Mr. Mark Ellis, Defense Health Agency, TRICARE Health Plan, 7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101, Falls Church, VA 22042–5101, telephone (703) 275–6234. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Executive Summary An interim final rule (IFR) was published in the Federal Register on September 29, 2017 (82 FR 45438– 45461) that established TRICARE Select and other TRICARE reforms. This rule is required to implement or partially implement several sections of NDAA– 17, including sections 701, 706, 715, 718, and 729. As a ‘‘housekeeping’’ matter, this rule also includes necessary changes to the TRICARE program to conform to new statutory specifications enacted in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA–18) over which the Department has no administrative discretion. The legal authority for this rule also includes chapter 55 of title 10, United States Code. In implementing section 701 and partially implementing several other sections of NDAA–17, this rule advances all four components of the Military Health System’s quadruple aim of improved readiness, better care, better health, and lower cost. The aim of improved readiness is served by reinforcing the vital role of the TRICARE Prime health plan to refer patients, particularly those needing specialty care, to military medical treatment facilities (MTFs) in order to ensure that military health care providers maintain clinical currency and proficiency in their professional fields. The objective of better care is enhanced by a number of improvements in beneficiary access to health care services, including increased geographical coverage for the TRICARE Select provider network, reduced administrative hurdles for TRICARE Prime enrollees to obtain urgent care services and specialty care referrals, and promotion of high value services and medications. The goal of better health is advanced by expanding TRICARE coverage of preventive care services, treatment of obesity, high-value care, and telehealth. Finally, the aim of lower cost is furthered by refining cost-benefit assessments for TRICARE plan specifications that remain under DoD’s discretion and adding flexibilities to incentivize high-value health care services. E:\FR\FM\15FER1.SGM 15FER1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 32 (Friday, February 15, 2019)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 4323-4326]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-02483]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404, 408, and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2015-0006]
RIN 0960-AH78


Prohibiting Persons With Certain Criminal Convictions From 
Serving as Representative Payees

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Final rules.

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SUMMARY: We are finalizing our proposed regulations on conducting 
background checks to prohibit persons convicted of certain crimes from 
serving as representative payees under the Social Security Act (Act), 
as required by the Strengthening Protections for Social Security 
Beneficiaries Act of 2018.

DATES: These final rules will be effective March 18, 2019.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kevin Salamone, Office of Income 
Security Programs, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 966-0854. 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: 

Background

    Representative payees manage benefit payments for beneficiaries or 
recipients who are incapable, due to a mental or physical impairment, 
of managing their Social Security, Special Veterans Benefits, or 
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, or of directing another 
person to manage those payments. Generally, if a beneficiary or 
recipient is under age 18, we will pay benefits to a representative 
payee; however, in certain situations, we make direct payments to a 
beneficiary under age 18 who shows the ability to manage the 
benefits.\1\ In cases where the beneficiary or recipient is 18 years or 
older, we select a representative payee if we believe that payment of 
benefits through a representative payee, rather than direct payment to 
the beneficiary, will better serve the beneficiary's interest. A 
representative payee may be an organization, such as a social service 
agency, or a person, such as a parent, relative, or friend of the 
beneficiary. We require a representative payee to use benefits in the 
beneficiary's best interest and, with certain exceptions, to report 
expenditures to us to ensure the representative payee is using funds 
appropriately.\2\
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    \1\ We use the word ``beneficiary'' to include both 
beneficiaries and recipients.
    \2\ Representative payees may receive an annual Representative 
Payee Report to account for the benefit payments received. In 
accordance with section 102 of the Strengthening Protections for 
Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018, Public Law 115-165, 132 
Stat. 1257, 1260, we no longer require the following payees to 
complete an annual Representative Payee Report: (1) Natural or 
adoptive parents of a minor child beneficiary who primarily reside 
in the same household as the child; (2) a legal guardian of a minor 
child beneficiary who primarily resides in the same household as the 
child; (3) Natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult 
beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household with the 
beneficiary; and (4) the spouse of a beneficiary.
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    When a person or an organization requests to serve as a 
representative payee, we investigate the potential representative payee 
to help ensure that the person or organization will perform the duties 
of a representative payee responsibly. We look at factors such as the 
potential representative payee's relationship to the beneficiary, any 
past performance as a representative payee for other beneficiaries, and 
any criminal history.
    On April 13, 2018, the President signed into law the Strengthening 
Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018.\3\ Section 
202 of the law \4\ codifies our current policy to conduct criminal 
background checks on representative payee applicants and to prohibit 
the selection of certain representative payee applicants who have a 
felony conviction of committing, attempting, or conspiring to commit 
certain crimes.\5\ In addition, the new law requires that we conduct 
criminal background checks on all currently serving representative 
payees who do not meet one of the exceptions set out in the law, and 
continue to do so at least once every five years.\6\
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    \3\ Public Law 115-165, 132 Stat. 1257.
    \4\ 132 Stat. at 1267.
    \5\ Section 202(d) of the law, 132 Stat. at 1271, provides that 
the requirements of section 202 ``shall apply with respect to any 
individual appointed to serve as a representative payee pursuant to 
section 205(j), 807, or 1631(a)(2) of the Social Security Act on or 
after January 1, 2019.''
    \6\ Section 202(e) of Public Law 115-165, 132 Stat. at 1271-72. 
We may not apply these prohibitions as an absolute bar to serving as 
a representative payee if the representative payee applicant is the 
custodial parent of the minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of 
a beneficiary who is under a disability which began before the 
beneficiary attained age 22, custodial spouse of the beneficiary, 
custodial grandparent of the minor child beneficiary, custodial 
court-appointed guardian of the beneficiary, parent who was 
previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who 
since turned age 18 and continued to be eligible for benefits; or if 
the representative payee applicant received a Presidential or 
gubernatorial pardon for the conviction.
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    On October 11, 2018, we published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
(NPRM) in the Federal Register.\7\ In the NPRM, we proposed to codify 
the requirements of section 202 to conduct background checks on 
representative payee applicants and to prohibit those representative 
payee applicants and representative payees with the statutorily 
enumerated felony convictions \8\ from serving as a

[[Page 4324]]

representative payee. We also proposed to implement the requirement 
that we conduct criminal background checks on all currently serving 
representative payees who do not meet one of the exceptions established 
in the law, and that we will continue to do so at least once every five 
years. We are adopting the proposed changes as final rules without 
revision.
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    \7\ 83 FR 51400. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/10/11/2018-22168/prohibiting-persons-with-certain-criminalconvictions-from-serving-as-representative-payees.
    \8\ We proposed to add a new paragraph to Sec. Sec.  404.2022 
and 416.622 of our regulations to reflect the felony prohibitions in 
the legislation. We are prohibited from selecting representative 
payee applicants with a felony conviction of: (1) Human trafficking, 
(2) false imprisonment, (3) kidnapping, (4) rape and sexual assault, 
(5) first-degree homicide, (6) robbery, (7) fraud to obtain access 
to government assistance, (8) fraud by scheme, (9) theft of 
government funds or property, (10) abuse or neglect, (11) forgery, 
or (12) identity theft or identity fraud. As further provided in 
Sec. Sec.  404.2022(f) and 416.622(f), we will also prohibit the 
selection of a representative payee applicant with a felony 
conviction of an attempt to commit any of these crimes or conspiracy 
to commit any of these crimes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In response to the NPRM, we received 11 timely submitted comments 
that addressed issues within the scope of our proposed rules. The 
comments are available through the eRulemaking docket, available online 
at www.regulations.gov, and then navigating to this rulemaking docket, 
SSA-2015-0006.

Public Comments and Discussion

    Comment: Some commenters objected to the proposed rules in their 
entirety, stating that prohibiting individuals convicted of the 
specified felonies from being representative payees is discriminatory 
against these individuals based on their legal status as convicted 
felons. In a related concern, other commenters who objected to the 
proposed rule maintained that we should provide statistical data 
demonstrating that (1) felons exploited their role as representative 
payees, or (2) prohibiting a convicted felon from serving as a 
representative payee results in more protection for beneficiaries.
    Response: We acknowledge the commenters' concerns regarding these 
prohibitions. However, these rules restate the statutory prohibitions 
enacted by Congress and signed into law by the President, and as such 
we do not have the discretion to adopt the commenters' suggestions.
    Comment: Other commenters asked whether there was a statute of 
limitations on our review of past criminal convictions, indicating that 
a criminal conviction, even for one of the crimes specified in the 
proposed rule, should be disregarded after a long enough period of time 
has lapsed after the conviction. In this regard, commenters also asked 
which crimes will be included in our criminal background checks.
    Response: The enacted statute and these final rules do not provide 
an exception based on how long in the past a criminal conviction for 
one of the prohibited felonies may have occurred. Our criminal 
background checks look for all convictions for the prohibited felonies 
in the background history of a representative payee applicant and 
existing representative payees. Regarding the issue of which crimes 
will be included in our criminal background checks: Both the statute 
and this regulation list the specific crimes that prohibit individuals 
from becoming representative payees. However, we consider and evaluate 
all available information when we evaluate the suitability of a 
representative payee applicant. Accordingly, if our criminal background 
checks reveal convictions for a crime other than the ones listed as a 
qualifying bar in the statute and in this regulation, we may consider 
those convictions when we determine whether an applicant will be a 
suitable representative payee. While the convictions listed in the 
statute and in this regulation result in prohibition from serving as a 
representative payee, unless specifically excepted, we will not 
consider other convictions to absolutely prohibit the representative 
payee applicant from being selected as a representative payee.
    Comment: Other commenters questioned whether a conviction for a 
prohibited felony would bar a person from serving as a representative 
payee for elderly parents or grandparents, or what would happen if a 
beneficiary only has prospective representative payees barred by these 
rules.
    Response: The enacted statute and these final rules do not provide 
an exception for a child or grandchild with a prohibited felony to 
serve as a representative payee for either a parent or grandparent. 
However, under the statute and our rules, if the child or grandchild is 
the custodial court-appointed guardian of the beneficiary, or has 
received a Presidential or gubernatorial pardon for the conviction, we 
would not consider the conviction an absolute bar to serving as the 
representative payee.
    Comment: One commenter disagreed with our usage of the term 
``custody'' and ``custodial spouse'' because individuals who live at 
home with family, or in a group home, should not be interpreted as 
being in the family's custody. This commenter made suggestions for 
alternate language.
    Response: We acknowledge the commenter's concern regarding the 
terminology, particularly in common usage. However, our use of 
``custodial'' directly reflects the enacted statutory language.

Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866 as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563

    We consulted with 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 formally review the final rule.

Executive Order 13771

    This final rule is not subject to the requirements of Executive 
Order 13771 because it is administrative in nature and results in no 
more than de minimis costs.

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 
affects only individuals. Therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as 
amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility 
analysis.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    These 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.
    What is our authority to make rules and set procedures for 
determining whether a person is disabled under the statutory 
definition?
    The Act authorizes us to make rules and regulations and to 
establish necessary and appropriate procedures to implement them.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \9\ Sections 205(a), 702(a)(5), and 1631(d)(1).

(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; and 96.020--Special Benefits for 
Certain World War II Veterans)

List of Subjects

20 CFR Part 404

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Blind, Disability 
benefits, Disability insurance, Old-Age, Survivors, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Social security.

20 CFR Part 408

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Supplemental Security 
Income (SSI), Veterans.

[[Page 4325]]

20 CFR Part 416

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

Nancy A. Berryhill,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR chapter 
III, parts 404, 408, and 416 as set forth below:

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

Subpart U--Representative Payment

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

    Authority:  Secs. 205(a), (j), and (k), and 702(a)(5) of the 
Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(a), (j), and (k), and 902(a)(5)).


0
2. Amend Sec.  404.2020 by revising paragraphs (d) and (e) and adding 
paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.2020  Information considered in selecting a representative 
payee.

* * * * *
    (d) Whether the potential payee has custody of the beneficiary;
    (e) Whether the potential payee is in a position to know of and 
look after the needs of the beneficiary; and
    (f) The potential payee's criminal history.

0
3. Amend Sec.  404.2022 by adding paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.2022  Who may not serve as a representative payee?

* * * * *
    (f) Was convicted under Federal or State law of a felony for: Human 
trafficking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape or sexual assault, 
first-degree homicide, robbery, fraud to obtain access to government 
assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, 
abuse or neglect, forgery, or identity theft or identity fraud. We will 
also apply this provision to a representative payee applicant with a 
felony conviction of an attempt to commit any of these crimes or 
conspiracy to commit any of these crimes.
    (1) If the representative payee applicant is the custodial parent 
of a minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of a beneficiary who is 
under a disability which began before the beneficiary attained the age 
of 22, custodial spouse of a beneficiary, custodial court-appointed 
guardian of a beneficiary, or custodial grandparent of the minor child 
beneficiary for whom the applicant is applying to serve as 
representative payee, we will not consider the conviction for one of 
the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, 
listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from 
serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal 
history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in 
paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it 
is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to 
appoint the applicant as a representative payee.
    (2) If the representative payee applicant is the parent who was 
previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who has 
since turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits, we will 
not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or 
conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), 
by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative 
payee for that beneficiary. We will consider the criminal history of an 
applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) 
through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best 
interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the 
applicant as a representative payee.
    (3) If the representative payee applicant received a Presidential 
or gubernatorial pardon for the relevant conviction, we will not 
consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or 
conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), 
by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative 
payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this 
category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this 
section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the 
individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a 
representative payee.

0
4. Amend Sec.  404.2024 by revising paragraph (a)(9) and adding 
paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.2024  How do we investigate a representative payee applicant?

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (9) Determine whether the payee applicant is a creditor of the 
beneficiary (see Sec.  404.2022(e)).
    (10) Conduct a criminal background check on the payee applicant.
* * * * *

0
5. Add Sec.  404.2026 to read as follows:


Sec.  404.2026  How do we investigate an appointed representative 
payee?

    After we select an individual or organization to act as your 
representative payee, we will conduct a criminal background check on 
the appointed representative payee at least once every 5 years.

PART 408--SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR CERTAIN WORLD WAR II VETERANS

Subpart F--Representative Payment

0
6. The authority citation for subpart F of part 408 continues to read 
as follows:

    Authority:  Secs. 702(a)(5), 807, and 810 of the Social Security 
Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1007, and 1010).


0
7. Add Sec.  408.626 to read as follows:


Sec.  408.626  How do we investigate an appointed representative payee?

    After we select an individual or organization as your 
representative payee, we investigate him or her following the rules in 
Sec.  404.2026 of this chapter.

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

Subpart F--Representative Payment

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

    Authority:  Secs. 702(a)(5), 1631(a)(2) and (d)(1) of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5) and 1383(a)(2) and (d)(1)).


0
9. Amend Sec.  416.620 by revising paragraphs (d) and (e) and adding 
paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.620  Information considered in selecting a representative 
payee.

* * * * *
    (d) Whether the potential payee has custody of the beneficiary;
    (e) Whether the potential payee is in a position to know of and 
look after the needs of the beneficiary; and
    (f) The potential payee's criminal history.

0
10. Amend Sec.  416.622 by adding paragraph (f) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.622  Who may not serve as a representative payee?

* * * * *
    (f) Was convicted under Federal or State law of a felony for: Human 
trafficking, false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape or sexual assault, 
first-degree homicide, robbery, fraud to obtain access to government 
assistance, fraud by scheme, theft of government funds or property, 
abuse or neglect, forgery, or identity theft or identity fraud. We will 
also apply this provision

[[Page 4326]]

to a representative payee applicant with a felony conviction of an 
attempt to commit any of these crimes or conspiracy to commit any of 
these crimes.
    (1) If the representative payee applicant is the custodial parent 
of a minor child beneficiary, custodial parent of a beneficiary who is 
under a disability which began before the beneficiary attained the age 
of 22, custodial spouse of a beneficiary, custodial court-appointed 
guardian of a beneficiary, or custodial grandparent of the minor child 
beneficiary for whom the applicant is applying to serve as 
representative payee, we will not consider the conviction for one of 
the crimes, or of attempt or conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, 
listed in this paragraph (f), by itself, to prohibit the applicant from 
serving as a representative payee. We will consider the criminal 
history of an applicant in this category, along with the factors in 
paragraphs (a) through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it 
is in the best interest of the individual entitled to benefits to 
appoint the applicant as a representative payee.
    (2) If the representative payee applicant is the parent who was 
previously the representative payee for his or her minor child who has 
since turned age 18 and continues to be eligible for benefits, we will 
not consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or 
conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), 
by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative 
payee for that beneficiary. We will consider the criminal history of an 
applicant in this category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) 
through (e) of this section, when we decide whether it is in the best 
interest of the individual entitled to benefits to appoint the 
applicant as a representative payee.
    (3) If the representative payee applicant received a Presidential 
or gubernatorial pardon for the relevant conviction, we will not 
consider the conviction for one of the crimes, or of attempt or 
conspiracy to commit one of the crimes, listed in this paragraph (f), 
by itself, to prohibit the applicant from serving as a representative 
payee. We will consider the criminal history of an applicant in this 
category, along with the factors in paragraphs (a) through (e) of this 
section, when we decide whether it is in the best interest of the 
individual entitled to benefits to appoint the applicant as a 
representative payee.

0
11. Amend Sec.  416.624 by revising paragraph (a)(9) and adding 
paragraph (a)(10) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.624  How do we investigate a representative payee applicant?

* * * * *
    (a)* * *
    (9) Determine whether the payee applicant is a creditor of the 
beneficiary (see Sec.  416.622(e)).
    (10) Conduct a criminal background check on the payee applicant.
* * * * *

0
12. Add Sec.  416.626 to read as follows:


Sec.  416.626  How do we investigate an appointed representative payee?

    After we select an individual or organization to act as your 
representative payee, we will conduct a criminal background check on 
the appointed representative payee at least once every 5 years.

[FR Doc. 2019-02483 Filed 2-14-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4191-02-P