Waiver of Recovery of Certain Overpayment Debts Accruing During the COVID-19 Pandemic Period, 52909-52915 [2020-18834]

Download as PDF Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations Country License requirement Entity Sky Gulf Electronic Devices Industries, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD) Zone 1 plots 104A 13 and 105A13 Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. * * * * * * * * Matthew S. Borman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Administration. [FR Doc. 2020–18909 Filed 8–26–20; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–33–P SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 20 CFR Parts 404, 408, and 416 [Docket No. SSA–2020–0045] RIN 0960–AI51 Waiver of Recovery of Certain Overpayment Debts Accruing During the COVID–19 Pandemic Period Social Security Administration. Interim final rule; request for comments. AGENCY: ACTION: We are issuing this interim final rule with request for comments to revise our regulations on how we waive the recovery of certain overpayment debts. We will apply this interim final rule when an affected beneficiary requests waiver of certain overpayment debts that accrued during a portion of the COVID–19 pandemic period. Under this rule, we may waive recovery of these overpayment debts using a streamlined internal process. Since the overpayment debts at issue occurred because of the circumstances surrounding the COVID–19 national public health emergency, we can assume that these debts are not the fault of the affected beneficiaries due directly to our strategic decision to reprioritize workloads to stop manually processing certain actions, and it would be against equity and good conscience to collect them. In particular, qualifying overpayment debts include those incurred between March 1 to September 30, 2020 that we did not manually process as a result of our cession of certain activities, and that we identified by December 31. We expect that this interim final rule will allow us to maintain effective stewardship of the Social Security programs, while simultaneously ensuring that affected beneficiaries are not disadvantaged by khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 For all items subject to the EAR. (See § 744.11 of the EAR). * * License review policy * * Frm 00029 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 85 FR [INSERT FR PAGE NUMBER] 8/27/20. * * our actions during this unprecedented national public health emergency. DATES: Effective date: This interim final rule is effective on August 27, 2020. Comment date: We invite written comments. Comments must be submitted on or before October 26, 2020. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of three methods—internet, fax, or mail. Do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method. Regardless of which method you choose, please state that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA–2020–0045 so that we may associate your comments with the correct rule. Caution: You should be careful to include in your comments only information that you wish to make publicly available. We strongly urge you not to include in your comments any personal information, such as Social Security numbers or medical information. 1. Internet: We strongly recommend that you submit your comments via the internet. Please visit the Federal eRulemaking portal at http:// www.regulations.gov. Use the search function to find docket number SSA– 2020–0045. The system will issue a tracking number to confirm your submission. You will not be able to view your comment immediately because we must post each comment manually. It may take up to a week for your comments to be viewable. 2. Fax: Fax comments to (410) 966– 2830. 3. Mail: Mail your comments to the Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High Rise Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235–6401. Comments are available for public viewing on the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or in person, during regular business hours, by arranging with the contact person identified in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward Sosar, Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security PO 00000 Federal Register citation Presumption of denial ............ * 52909 * * * Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235–6401, (410) 966–2341. 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 Beginning on March 17, 2020, we took unprecedented measures to protect both the public and our employees during the COVID–19 national public health emergency. These measures included closing our more than 1,200 field offices to in-person service, maximizing our employees’ use of telework, and reprioritizing certain manual workloads to stop actions that could, under normal circumstances, have resulted in a reduction, suspension, or termination of benefits or payments under titles II, VIII, or XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). For example, we suspended the completion of title XVI redeterminations, a periodic review of an individual’s or couple’s non-medical eligibility factors such as income, resources, and living arrangement, during which our staff ensures that a recipient or couple is still eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and is receiving the correct amount of SSI payments.1 Moreover, in some instances, we may have had information in our files to indicate an individual’s benefits or payments may not have been correct, but we did not take action on that information to protect beneficiaries’ income and healthcare coverage during the COVID– 19 pandemic period.2 Because we suspended certain actions due to the pandemic, we did not establish some overpayment debts as timely as we would have if our offices had been operating normally. We note that we would have processed manually the debts impacted by this action. Due to our focus on prioritizing other more 1 See 20 CFR 416.204. the purposes of this rule, whenever we cite the ‘‘pandemic period,’’ we are referring only to the established period of March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020. 2 For E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES 52910 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations urgent workloads and reducing stress on the people we serve during the beginning of the pandemic, we did not take action on these types of overpayment debts. For example, some of these overpayment debts consist of routine monthly reports of changes such as income, resources, and living arrangements that would otherwise result in a reduction, suspension, or termination of benefits. Under normal circumstances, the agency would manually process the changes and benefits would be timely reduced. However, by holding these periodic reports of changes, we have created overpayments within the pandemic period, and therefore the resulting overpayment debts are subject to relief under this interim final rule. In contrast, overpayment debts that we identified through our automated processes, such as computer interfaces with the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and (for dually entitled SSI recipients) Social Security benefit systems, were not affected by the suspension of certain actions during the pandemic period, even if beneficiaries incurred the debts during the pandemic period and in the same manner as some in the manually processed group. Therefore, these overpayment debts will be subject to our existing overpayment debt waiver process. For example, an SSI recipient failed to timely report receipt of VA compensation (not based on need) that began in March 2020, during the pandemic period. In July 2020, we identified the receipt VA compensation through our automated processes and updated to the SSI record, creating an overpayment in the pandemic period. In this example, the overpayment debt will be subject to our existing overpayment debt waiver process. Beginning on August 31, 2020, we intend to resume workloads that we suspended beginning in mid-March 2020. As we process the suspended workloads, we anticipate identifying a number of overpayments that we would have identified and acted on earlier had it not been for our response to the COVID–19 pandemic. Because of our delay in acting, it is probable that the resulting overpayment debts may be larger in amount and greater in number than they would otherwise have been through no fault of the affected beneficiaries. Overpayment debts incurred during the pandemic period between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 may be directly the result of the COVID–19 national public health emergency and our unprecedented response to it: Our suspension of manually processing and VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 collecting certain overpayment debts. The combination of the pandemic and our necessary response to it has created a set of circumstances unlike any other in the history of our programs. This unique situation affects a number of our beneficiaries and, more importantly, affects them in a uniformly detrimental manner primarily due to our reprioritizing workloads to suspend the manual processing of certain actions. Because of the unique nature of the COVID–19 pandemic, our unprecedented response to it, and its uniform impact on this group of beneficiaries, we are revising our rules to use a simplified waiver process for affected beneficiaries who request waiver of recovery of a qualifying overpayment debt. A qualifying overpayment debt is one that accrued at any point between March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 and was directly impacted by our actions to defer and suspend certain workloads between March 17, 2020 and August 31, 2020. We designed this simplified waiver process to handle requests for waiver of overpayment debts efficiently and fairly, and to preserve our agency resources for mission-critical workloads. By implementing a streamlined process for this subset of overpayment debts, we can more efficiently administratively process qualifying overpayment debts and provide relief in a timely fashion to those directly impacted by our actions. Summary of the Change For qualifying overpayment debts— that is, those that that relate to debts incurred during the period from March 1, 2020, through September 30, 2020 (the ‘‘pandemic period’’); that resulted because of our decision to defer action and suspend certain workloads; for which the beneficiary requests waiver and that we identify by December 31, 2020—we will: • Presume overpaid individuals are without fault in having caused the qualifying overpayment debt; • determine that recovery of the portion of the qualifying overpayment debt incurred during the pandemic period would be against equity and good conscience; and • waive recovery of the portion of a qualifying overpayment debt incurred during the pandemic period. For purposes of this interim final rule, we ‘‘identify’’ an overpayment debt when we discover the overpayment debt and initiate action to recover it. We will not apply this streamlined waiver process to overpayment debts resulting from fraud or similar fault or involving misuse of benefits by a representative payee. PO 00000 Frm 00030 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 As we previously stated, actions that we took based on our automated processes will not qualify for this streamlined waiver process. In such cases, since we were not the cause of a delay in overpayment debts being assessed, and since we did not thus cause an increase in the amount of the overpayment debt, we are not including such actions in this special streamlined waiver process. However, in these cases, beneficiaries may request waiver of recovery of the overpayment debts through our existing processes, and we will develop the financial and other information needed to determine whether the individual qualifies for waiver under our existing regulations.3 We chose these dates for several reasons. SSA began its pandemic response activities in mid-March 2020, but we are using March 1, 2020, as the start date for the waiver period, as we assess actions on a monthly basis. Accordingly, if SSA stopped certain actions in mid-March 2020, it actually affects payments for the entire month of March 2020. We are resuming normal workload processing on August 31, but the systems cutoff date to affect September payments occurs the third week of August. Since the agency will resume workload processing on August 31, overpayments will have already accrued for the month of September, so it is appropriate for the period of this regulation’s waiver to extend through September 30. If the overpayment debt relates to a period that began before March 1, 2020 or after September 30, 2020 and includes all or part of the pandemic period, only the portion of the qualifying overpayment debt attributable to months during the pandemic period qualifies for the streamlined waiver process under this interim final rule. For the remainder of the overpayment debt, the individual retains the right to appeal our determination regarding the fact and amount of the overpayment, or request waiver of recovery of the overpayment debt under our existing regulations. Additionally, auxiliary beneficiaries under our title II programs may also be eligible for streamlined waiver of overpayment debts during the pandemic period, even if the primary beneficiary incurred an overpayment debt that is not eligible for streamlined waiver. For example, if a primary beneficiary incurred an overpayment debt due to what is found to be fraud, that person would not be eligible for a streamlined waiver under this interim final rule. However, if that person had an auxiliary 3 See E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 20 CFR 404.506(c), 408.910, and 416.550. 27AUR1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations beneficiary, the auxiliary beneficiary, unlike the primary beneficiary, may be eligible for this overpayment waiver. Finally, under this interim final rule, we will not issue refunds outside of our normal debt waiver processes for overpayment debt recoveries that occurred during the pandemic period. If a beneficiary or recipient had benefits withheld during the pandemic period, or if we have already begun to withhold benefits due to an overpayment debt that accrued in part or in whole during the pandemic period, we will not issue refunds under this interim final rule, because these actions are not within the scope of this interim final rule. Those beneficiaries had their overpayment debts and related waiver requests handled in the usual course of business, and we did not cause or increase the overpayment debt by our decision to suspend processing of certain workloads. This interim final rule will apply to qualifying overpayment debts that we identify by December 31, 2020. We estimate that a December 31, 2020 cutoff will allow us sufficient time to identify all the qualifying overpayments that we held during the pandemic period. When we review a beneficiary’s case and find that it occurred during the pandemic period, we will annotate it with a special code. That code will help ensure that we know this case should be evaluated under the interim final rule. An example of how this would work in practice: In April 2020, we received evidence reflecting an increase in income for an SSI beneficiary, and we determined that the beneficiary’s payments should in fact be lower based on the updated income information. However, we did not process the actual change in payment from April 2020 until the present, because we had suspended such actions during the pandemic period. Because we held this case until we resumed processing such actions in September 2020, and it was through no fault of the beneficiary’s that they received overpayment amounts during the pandemic period, it would be considered a qualifying overpayment debt under the interim final rule. An example of a situation that would not apply under the interim final rule: If we received evidence in January 2021 reflecting an increase in income for an SSI beneficiary that first began in April 2020, this SSI beneficiary would not qualify for the special waiver. Because we were not working on the case throughout the pandemic period and, accordingly, we were not holding our processing of the increased income amount, our actions were not responsible for the accrual of VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 overpayment debt, so the debt does not qualify for this special waiver process. As always, of course, the beneficiary may still be considered for a waiver under our existing waiver process. We chose to apply the streamlined waiver process to qualifying overpayment debts we identify by December 31, 2020 to fulfill of our obligation under the Act to ensure effective and responsible stewardship of the Social Security programs. Including the time limitation appropriately balances our stewardship obligation with the needs of beneficiaries who rely on our programs. We also chose the December 31, 2020 cutoff date because it limits the amount of time we have to apply two separate overpayment debt business processes; extending the period indefinitely would exacerbate that operational issue. We also gain administrative efficiencies by applying a single waiver of overpayment debt recovery rule to the qualifying subset of all incurred payments during the period, and the effect of those efficiencies is lessened when we follow multiple processes for an extended period. We need to operate efficiently because we expect—due to resuming the workloads we suspended in March 2020—to have to process a significantly higher amount of work over the coming months than comparable periods in the past. In light of these reasons, we believe the appropriate cutoff date for identifying qualifying overpayment debts is December 31, 2020. Effective August 31, 2020, language in our overpayment notices will direct beneficiaries to contact their local Field Office with any questions about their overpayment, or to request an overpayment waiver. Field Office technicians will review the beneficiary’s record to determine if the overpayment qualifies for a streamlined waiver, and if so, will document the request for waiver on an electronic Report of Contact (SSA–5002) and attest to the beneficiary’s signature. Under the streamlined process, the beneficiary will not be required to complete the full form SSA–632 or provide supporting information about his or her income and expenses to make the waiver determination for the qualified debt. SSA will terminate the language in the overpayment notices effective December 31, 2020. Difference From Current Policy Under sections 204(a) and 1631(b)(1)(A) of the Act,4 the Commissioner ‘‘shall’’ seek repayment of overpayment debts, by one or more of 4 42 PO 00000 U.S.C. 404(a) and 1383(b)(1)(A). Frm 00031 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52911 the methods listed in each section, unless waiver of recovery of the overpayment debt is appropriate. Consequently, we must seek repayments of overpayment debts made under both title II and title XVI of the Act, unless the circumstances of the overpaid individual satisfy the waiver criteria set out in sections 204(b) or 1631(b)(1)(B) of the Act.5 Under sections 204(b) and 1631(b)(1)(B) of the Act, we waive recovery of an overpayment debt when the overpaid individual is without fault in causing the overpayment debt and adjustment or recovery would defeat the purpose of the statute, or would be against equity and good conscience, or, for title XVI overpayment debts only, would impede the efficient or effective administration of title XVI. These statutory criteria are broadly worded and provide us with considerable latitude to determine when it would be appropriate for us to waive recovery of an overpayment debt and to determine the process that we use to waive recovery of overpayment debts. Under the current regulations and our internal agency instructions, before we can waive recovery of an overpayment debt, we must document any request for waiver, and develop any allegations an individual raises in the waiver request.6 We must obtain sufficient information to clarify issues of fault, and then often consider the individual’s ability to repay and issues of equity, each of which may require the overpaid individual to submit additional documentation as evidence. We must review the evidence and first determine whether the individual is without fault in causing the overpayment and meets at least one of the other requirements for waiver specified in the Act and regulations. The other requirements for waiver shared by titles II, VIII, XVI are that recovery would defeat the purpose of the program or be against equity and good conscience. To determine if recovery of an overpayment debt is against equity and good conscience, our current regulations require us to develop information that an individual changed his or her position for the worse or relinquished a valuable right because of reliance upon a notice that a payment would be made or because of 5 42 U.S.C. 404(b) and 1383(b)(1)(B). 20 CFR 404.506(c), 408.910, and 416.550 and POMS GN 02201.021, GN 02201.021, GN 02201.023, GN 02250.230, GN 02250.244, GN 02250.400, GN 02250.255, SI 02260.001, SI 02260.005, SI 02260.010, SI 02260.020, and VB 02205.310SI 02260.025. 6 See E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1 52912 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES the overpayment debt itself.7 Generally, when an individual requests waiver, we request and review information the individual provided us in order to determine whether the individual is without fault in causing the overpayment and that recovery would either defeat the purpose of the program or be against equity and conscience.8 If we are unable to grant a waiver based upon review of the information available, we offer the person the opportunity for a file review so that the individual can review the file and applicable law and regulations with one of our representatives, who is prepared to answer questions.9 Individuals also have the right to have a personal conference, where the person may offer further explanation and documentation to a decision maker.10 This interim final rule does not change the formal aspects of requesting a waiver for overpayment debt, insofar as the beneficiary will continue to be able to contact SSA to initiate the process, the same waiver request application will be used, and when waivers are issued they will be communicated to beneficiaries in the same manner. However, when a beneficiary calls their local field office to request a waiver, if the overpayment is covered under this interim final rule, the agency will ask the beneficiary to provide less information than is normally required to adjudicate an overpayment waiver decision, such as information about a beneficiary’s income, expenses, assets, and use of overpayment funds. Beneficiaries covered under this interim final rule should normally expect to be able to provide the necessary information over the phone while guided by our employees and without doing anything differently in advance of the call. Under this interim final rule, we will use a streamlined waiver process for qualifying overpayment debts. Qualifying overpayment debts include debts accrued during the pandemic period because of our decision to defer action and suspend certain workloads that would have otherwise allowed us to identify and take appropriate action on the overpayments. Under this interim final rule, we will presume that the overpaid individual was without fault in causing the qualifying overpayment 7 See 20 CFR 404.509; 408.914, 416.554 and POMS GN 02250.150, and SI 02260.025, VB 02005.330. 8 See 20 CFR 404.506 and 416.557. 9 20 CFR 404.506(c) and (d) and 416.577(a) and (b); POMS GN 02270.009, SI 02260.006, VB 02005.360. 10 See 20 CFR 404.506(e) & (f); 416.557(c) and (d); and POMS GN 02270.013, SI 02260.006, VB 02005.360. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 debt, subject to limited exclusions discussed above for overpayment debts that resulted from fraud or similar fault or misuse of benefits by a representative payee. Therefore, due to the no fault presumption, we will not fully develop the issue of fault. If we presume that the overpaid individual is without fault, we will determine that recovery of the overpayment debt would be against equity and good conscience without requiring the beneficiary or recipient to specifically show that he or she relinquished a valuable right or changed position, in reliance on the overpayment debt, for the worse. For purposes of this interim final rule, we will apply a broad concept of fairness when we find that recovery of the overpayment debt would be against equity and good conscience. Regulatory Procedures Justification for Issuing a Rule Without Notice and Comment We follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking procedures specified in 5 U.S.C. 553 when we develop regulations. Generally, the APA requires that an agency provide prior notice and opportunity for public comment before issuing a final rule. The APA provides exceptions to its notice and public comment procedures when an agency finds there is good cause for dispensing with such procedures because they are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)). We find that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to issue this interim final rule without prior public comment because prior public comment is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. As discussed above, this interim final rule will allow us to presume that certain individuals whose overpayment debts accrued during the March 1-September 30, 2020 COVID–19 pandemic period and that we identify by December 31 2020 were without fault in causing their overpayment debts because of our decision to suspend certain workloads and stop certain actions temporarily. The rule also allows us to apply a streamlined waiver process to decide waiver requests from these individuals. In the absence of this rule, our existing regulations would require us to continue to fully develop requests for waiver of these overpayment debts. We find that public comment is impracticable because the delay associated with the public comment process would impede our ability to resume more normal operations. The delay associated with the public PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 comment process would also impede our ability to operate because it would require us to continue to use our administrative resources to develop overpayment debt waiver requests for overpayments that we can readily presume were not the fault of the affected individuals. Applying our normal overpayment debt processes to these overpayment debts—rather than the streamlined processes in the interim final rule—would prevent us from using those administrative resources to perform other time sensitive and mission critical workloads that we deferred during the pandemic period. Enhancing our ability to perform these other critical workloads by forgoing public comment on this rule will allow us to begin to operate more normally and serve the interests of all beneficiaries, who are entitled to timely and responsive service from us, even during these unprecedented circumstances. We also find that delaying this interim final rule to obtain public comment would be contrary to the public interest. A delay in implementation would burden the affected beneficiaries, who will receive notices of overpayment debts when we begin resuming normal workloads, and require them to prove the requirements for waiver by submitting the necessary evidence for us to consider. The delay associated with a public comment period would also be contrary to the public interest because it would reduce the effectiveness of the rule and the streamlined waiver process we are establishing. We are finalizing this rule before we resume the workloads that we suspended in March 2020 and begin assessing overpayment debts incurred during the pandemic period. If we delayed resuming our suspended workloads in order to obtain public comment on the rule, beneficiaries may incur a greater amount of overpayment debt than they would under the streamlined waiver process we are establishing. Prior public comment would therefore defeat the purpose of this rule, which is to provide effective and timely relief and ensure economic security to overpaid individuals affected by our actions to reprioritize our workloads to stop certain actions during the pandemic period. We thus find that it would be contrary to the public interest to obtain public comment and delay our ability to waive these overpayment debts, which were not the fault of the affected individuals. In addition, for the reasons cited above, we find good cause for dispensing with the 30-day delay in the effective date of this rule provided for E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). So, we are making this interim final rule effective upon publication. Although we are making this interim final rule effective on publication, we invite public comment on all aspects of the interim final rule. We will consider any substantive comments we receive within 60 days of the publication of this interim final rule and will issue a revised final rule if necessary after we consider the public comments. Executive Order 12866, as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563 We have consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and determined that this interim final rule meets the criteria for a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and is subject to OMB review. Anticipated Costs to Our Programs Our Office of the Chief Actuary estimates that implementing this interim final rule will result in a reduction in recovered overpayment debts of approximately $238 million over FYs 2020–30, $157 million for the OASDI program and $80 million for the Federal SSI program. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES Anticipated Administrative Savings to SSA in FY 2021 Our Office of Budget, Finance, and Management estimates that this change will result in net administrative savings to the agency of up to 220 workyears and $20 million to resume processing actions for these overpayment debts. To arrive at our estimate, we estimate an additional 5 minutes per action resumed to identify whether the overpayment falls within the COVID period for purposes of the final rule, offset by savings of 30 minutes to waive the overpayments for those requesting relief. We expect to realize the entirety of the net savings in FY 2021. Executive Order 13132 (Federalism) We analyzed this rule in accordance with the principles and criteria established by Executive Order 13132, and determined that the interim final rule will not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. We also determined that this interim final rule will not preempt any State law or State regulation or affect the States’ abilities to discharge traditional State governmental functions. Regulatory Flexibility Act We certify that this interim final rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 entities, because it affects only individuals. Therefore, a Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis. E.O. 13771 This interim final rule is a deregulatory action, because it results in administrative cost savings, as well as burden reduction for the public. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) We maintain existing OMB PRAapproved information collection tools relating to this interim final rule: The Request for Waiver of Overpayment Recovery (Form SSA–632–BK, OMB No. 0960–0037), which respondents use to request a waiver; and the Important Information About Your Appeal, Waiver Rights, and Repayment (Form SSA– 3105, OMB No. 0960–0779), which respondents use to inform us that they may want to request an appeal or request a change in repayment rate of an overpayment. We do not plan to make any revisions to these forms due to this interim final rule. While we do not plan to make any revisions to these forms, we will not need to ask all of the information on form SSA–632 (OMB No. 0960–0037) from respondents who contact us regarding overpayment waivers, and whose overpayments ultimately prove to be affected by this rule. As discussed in the preamble, SSA expects that for respondents covered under this IFR, the agency will not ask respondents questions regarding income, assets, expenses, or information about receiving the overpayment that may normally be pertinent for adjudicating a request for waiving overpayment debt. In a typical change to an information collection, we would provide a different, reduced burden estimate for these respondents. However, the burden range already reported in the OMBapproved information collection request (ICR) is so wide—5 to 120 minutes—that we see no need to calculate a new burden, as the respondents affected by this regulation would certainly fall within that range. In addition, while this interim final rule allows us to use a streamlined waiver for qualifying overpayment debts, we do not anticipate receiving, on an annual basis, more waiver requests in total than we normally receive. Finally, because we do not know the number of affected respondents (having not yet examined the universe of possible cases), that is also not a factor that would result in burden recalculation. Ultimately, though, because the burden we already report for the 0960–0037 ICR includes PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52913 all of those respondents anyway, that too does not require a new burden calculation. Accordingly, we are not soliciting public comment under the PRA on these ICs. However, upon publication of this interim final rule, we will submit a nonsubstantive change request to OMB (viewable to the public) to document the temporary, short-term, COVID-related change in criteria we will use for affected respondents. (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, Aged, Alimony, Blind, Disability benefits, Government employees, Income taxes, Individuals with disabilities, Insurance, Investigations, Penalties, Railroad retirement, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Travel and transportation expenses, Treaties, Veterans, Vocational rehabilitation. 20 CFR Part 408 Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Veterans. 20 CFR Part 416 Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Alcoholism, Blind, Disability benefits, Drug abuse, Investigations, Medicaid, Penalties, Public assistance programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Travel and transportation expenses, Vocational rehabilitation. The Commissioner of Social Security, Andrew Saul, having reviewed and approved this document, is delegating the authority to electronically sign this document to Faye I. Lipsky, who is the primary Federal Register Liaison for the Social Security Administration, for purposes of publication in the Federal Register. Faye I. Lipsky, Federal Register Liaison, Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs, Social Security Administration. For the reasons stated in the preamble, we are amending subpart F of part 404, subpart I of part 408, and subpart E of part 416 of title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below: E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1 52914 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations PART 404—FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE (1950—) Subpart F—Overpayments, Underpayments, Waiver of Adjustment or Recovery of Overpayments, and Liability of a Certifying Officer 1. The authority citation for subpart F of part 404 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 204, 205(a), 702(a)(5), and 1147 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 404, 405(a), 902(a)(5), and 1320b–17); 31 U.S.C. 3711; 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 U.S.C. 3720A. 2. Amend § 404.501 by adding a sentence after the second sentence in paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows: ■ § 404.501 General applicability of section 204 of the Act. (a) * * * The term pandemic period as used throughout this subpart for the purposes of the waiver authority in § 404.506(b) refers exclusively to the period of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending on September 30, 2020. * * * * * * * * ■ 3. Amend § 404.506 by: ■ a. Redesignating paragraphs (b) through (h) as paragraphs (c) through (i); and ■ b. Adding a new paragraph (b). The addition reads as follows: § 404.506 When waiver may be applied and how to process the request. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES * * * * * (b) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (b) when an individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment. (1) For purposes of this paragraph (b), a qualifying overpayment is one that accrued during the pandemic period (see § 404.501(a)) because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID– 19 national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying and stopping certain overpayments. (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see § 404.507) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee (see § 404.2041). (3) If we determine under paragraph (b)(2) of this section that an individual VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 or a representative payee is without fault in causing a qualifying overpayment we will also determine that recovery of the qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(3) only, ‘‘against equity and good conscience’’ is not limited to the meaning used in § 404.509 but means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the facts and circumstances of the case. (4) If we determine that a primary beneficiary is not without fault with respect to a qualifying overpayment under paragraph (b)(2) of this section, because it was caused by fraud or similar fault or because of representative payee misuse, we may still find that any auxiliary beneficiaries on the primary beneficiary’s record are eligible for waiver of recovery of the qualifying overpayment under this paragraph (b). If an auxiliary beneficiary requests waiver of a qualifying overpayment in accordance with this paragraph (b), we will waive recovery of the overpayment if the auxiliary beneficiary meets all of the requirements of this paragraph (b). (5) The provisions of this paragraph (b) will apply to a qualifying overpayment identified by December 31, 2020. * * * * * ■ 4. Amend § 404.507 by adding a sentence after the third sentence of the introductory text to read as follows: § 404.507 Fault. * * * Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will not determine any overpaid individual to be at fault in causing a qualifying overpayment (see § 404.506(b)(1)) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a beneficiary or a representative payee during the pandemic period (see § 404.501) was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee (see § 404.2041).* * * * * * * * PART 408—SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR CERTAIN WORLD WAR II VETERANS Subpart I—Underpayments and Overpayments 5. The authority citation for subpart I of part 408 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 808, and 1147 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1008, and 1320b–17); 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 U.S.C. 3720A. 6. Amend § 408.902 by: a. Designating the paragraph as paragraph (a); and ■ ■ PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 ■ b. Adding paragraph (b). The addition read as follows: § 408.902 What is an overpayment? * * * * * (b) As used in this subpart, the term pandemic period for the purposes of the waiver authority in § 408.910 refers exclusively to the period of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending on September 30, 2020. ■ 7. Amend § 408.910 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 408.910 When will we waive recovery of an SVB overpayment? * * * * * (c) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (c) when an individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment. (1) For purposes of this paragraph (c), a qualifying overpayment is one that accrued during the pandemic period (see § 408.902(b)) because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID– 19 national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying and stopping certain overpayments. (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see § 408.912) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee (see § 408.641). (3) If we determine under paragraph (c)(2) of this section that an individual or a representative payee is without fault in causing a qualifying overpayment, we will also determine that recovery of the qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For purposes of this paragraph (c)(3) only, ‘‘against equity and good conscience’’ is not limited to the meaning used in § 408.914 but means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the facts and circumstances of the case. (4) The provisions of this paragraph (c) will apply to a qualifying overpayment identified by December 31, 2020. ■ 8. Amend § 408.912 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows: § 408.912 When are you without fault regarding an overpayment? * * * * * (c) Special rule for qualifying overpayments. Notwithstanding any E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1 Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 167 / Thursday, August 27, 2020 / Rules and Regulations other provision of this subpart, we will not determine any overpaid individual to be at fault in causing a qualifying overpayment (see § 408.910(c)(1)) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to an individual or a representative payee during the pandemic period (see § 408.902(b)) was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee (see § 408.641). PART 416—SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME FOR THE AGED, BLIND, AND DISABLED Subpart E—Payment of Benefits, Overpayments, and Underpayments 9. The authority citation for subpart E of part 416 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1147, 1601, 1602, 1611(c) and (e), and 1631(a)–(d) and (g) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1320b–17, 1381, 1381a, 1382(c) and (e), and 1383(a)–(d) and (g)); 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 U.S.C. 3720A. 10. Amend § 416.537 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows: ■ § 416.537 Overpayments—defined. * * * * * (c) Pandemic period. As used throughout this subpart, the term pandemic period for the purposes of the waiver authority in § 416.550 refers exclusively to the period of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending on September 30, 2020. ■ 11. Amend § 416.550 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows: of benefits by a representative payee (see § 416.641). (3) If we determine under paragraph (c)(2) of this section that an individual or a representative payee is without fault in causing a qualifying overpayment, we will also determine that recovery of the qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For purposes of this paragraph (c)(3) only, ‘‘against equity and good conscience’’ is not limited to the meaning used in § 416.554 but means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the facts and circumstances of the case. (4) The provisions of this paragraph (c)(4) will apply to a qualifying overpayment identified by December 31, 2020. ■ 12. Amend § 416.552 by adding a sentence following the second sentence of the introductory text to read as follows: § 416.552 Waiver of adjustment or recovery—without fault. * * * Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will not determine any overpaid individual to be at fault in causing a qualifying overpayment (see § 416.550(c)(1)) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to an individual or a representative payee during the pandemic period (see § 416.537(c)) was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee (see § 416.641). * * * * * * * * [FR Doc. 2020–18834 Filed 8–26–20; 8:45 am] § 416.550 Waiver of adjustment or recovery—when applicable. BILLING CODE 4191–02–P khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with RULES * * * * * (c) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (c) when an individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment. (1) For purposes of this paragraph (c), a qualifying overpayment is one that accrued during the pandemic period (see § 416.537(c)) because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID– 19 national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying and stopping certain overpayments. (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see § 416.552) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:18 Aug 26, 2020 Jkt 250001 DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Drug Enforcement Administration 21 CFR Part 1308 [Docket No. DEA–482] Schedules of Controlled Substances: Extension of Temporary Placement of N-Ethylpentylone in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act Drug Enforcement Administration, Department of Justice. ACTION: Temporary rule; temporary scheduling order; extension. AGENCY: The Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration is issuing this order to extend the temporary schedule I status of a synthetic cathinone, 1-(1,3-benzodioxol5-yl)-2-(ethylamino)pentan-1-one (Nethylpentylone, ephylone), including its SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 52915 optical, positional and geometric isomers, salts, and salts of isomers. The schedule I status of N-ethylpentylone currently is in effect until August 31, 2020. This order extends the temporary scheduling of N-ethylpentylone for one year, or until the permanent scheduling action for this substance is completed, whichever occurs first. DATES: This order, which extends the temporary scheduling order that DEA previously issued for this substance (83 FR 44474, August 31, 2018), is effective August 31, 2020, and expires on August 31, 2021. If DEA publishes a final rule making this scheduling action permanent, this order will expire on the effective date of that rule, if the effective date is earlier than August 31, 2021. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott A. Brinks, Regulatory Drafting and Policy Support Section, Diversion Control Division, Drug Enforcement Administration; Mailing Address: 8701 Morrissette Drive, Springfield, Virginia 22152; Telephone: (571) 362–8209. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background and Legal Authority On August 31, 2018, the former Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) published a temporary scheduling order in the Federal Register (83 FR 44474) placing 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2(ethylamino)-pentan-1-one (Nethylpentylone, ephylone), a synthetic cathinone, in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) pursuant to the temporary scheduling provisions of 21 U.S.C. 811(h).1 That order was effective on the date of publication, and was based on findings by the former Acting Administrator of DEA that the temporary scheduling of this substance was necessary to avoid an imminent hazard to the public safety pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 811(h)(1). The CSA provides that the temporary control of this substance expire two years from the effective date of the temporary scheduling order, or on August 31, 2020. 21 U.S.C. 811(h)(2). However, this same subsection also provides that, during the pendency of proceedings under 21 U.S.C. 811(a)(1) to permanently add the substance to a schedule, the temporary scheduling of that substance can be extended for up to one year. Proceedings for the scheduling of a substance under 21 U.S.C. 811(a) may be initiated by the Attorney 1 Though DEA has used the term ‘‘final order’’ with respect to temporary scheduling orders in the past, this notice adheres to the statutory language of 21 U.S.C. 811(h), which refers to a ‘‘temporary scheduling order.’’ No substantive change is intended. E:\FR\FM\27AUR1.SGM 27AUR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 167 (Thursday, August 27, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 52909-52915]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-18834]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404, 408, and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2020-0045]
RIN 0960-AI51


Waiver of Recovery of Certain Overpayment Debts Accruing During 
the COVID-19 Pandemic Period

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are issuing this interim final rule with request for 
comments to revise our regulations on how we waive the recovery of 
certain overpayment debts. We will apply this interim final rule when 
an affected beneficiary requests waiver of certain overpayment debts 
that accrued during a portion of the COVID-19 pandemic period. Under 
this rule, we may waive recovery of these overpayment debts using a 
streamlined internal process. Since the overpayment debts at issue 
occurred because of the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 national 
public health emergency, we can assume that these debts are not the 
fault of the affected beneficiaries due directly to our strategic 
decision to reprioritize workloads to stop manually processing certain 
actions, and it would be against equity and good conscience to collect 
them. In particular, qualifying overpayment debts include those 
incurred between March 1 to September 30, 2020 that we did not manually 
process as a result of our cession of certain activities, and that we 
identified by December 31. We expect that this interim final rule will 
allow us to maintain effective stewardship of the Social Security 
programs, while simultaneously ensuring that affected beneficiaries are 
not disadvantaged by our actions during this unprecedented national 
public health emergency.

DATES: Effective date: This interim final rule is effective on August 
27, 2020.
    Comment date: We invite written comments. Comments must be 
submitted on or before October 26, 2020.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of three methods--
internet, fax, or mail. Do not submit the same comments multiple times 
or by more than one method. Regardless of which method you choose, 
please state that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA-2020-0045 so 
that we may associate your comments with the correct rule.
    Caution: You should be careful to include in your comments only 
information that you wish to make publicly available. We strongly urge 
you not to include in your comments any personal information, such as 
Social Security numbers or medical information.
    1. Internet: We strongly recommend that you submit your comments 
via the internet. Please visit the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Use the search function to find docket number 
SSA-2020-0045. The system will issue a tracking number to confirm your 
submission. You will not be able to view your comment immediately 
because we must post each comment manually. It may take up to a week 
for your comments to be viewable.
    2. Fax: Fax comments to (410) 966-2830.
    3. Mail: Mail your comments to the Office of Regulations and 
Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High Rise 
Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.
    Comments are available for public viewing on the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or in person, during 
regular business hours, by arranging with the contact person identified 
in FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Edward Sosar, Office of Regulations 
and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 966-2341. 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

    Beginning on March 17, 2020, we took unprecedented measures to 
protect both the public and our employees during the COVID-19 national 
public health emergency. These measures included closing our more than 
1,200 field offices to in-person service, maximizing our employees' use 
of telework, and reprioritizing certain manual workloads to stop 
actions that could, under normal circumstances, have resulted in a 
reduction, suspension, or termination of benefits or payments under 
titles II, VIII, or XVI of the Social Security Act (Act).
    For example, we suspended the completion of title XVI 
redeterminations, a periodic review of an individual's or couple's non-
medical eligibility factors such as income, resources, and living 
arrangement, during which our staff ensures that a recipient or couple 
is still eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments and 
is receiving the correct amount of SSI payments.\1\ Moreover, in some 
instances, we may have had information in our files to indicate an 
individual's benefits or payments may not have been correct, but we did 
not take action on that information to protect beneficiaries' income 
and healthcare coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic period.\2\ Because 
we suspended certain actions due to the pandemic, we did not establish 
some overpayment debts as timely as we would have if our offices had 
been operating normally. We note that we would have processed manually 
the debts impacted by this action. Due to our focus on prioritizing 
other more

[[Page 52910]]

urgent workloads and reducing stress on the people we serve during the 
beginning of the pandemic, we did not take action on these types of 
overpayment debts. For example, some of these overpayment debts consist 
of routine monthly reports of changes such as income, resources, and 
living arrangements that would otherwise result in a reduction, 
suspension, or termination of benefits. Under normal circumstances, the 
agency would manually process the changes and benefits would be timely 
reduced. However, by holding these periodic reports of changes, we have 
created overpayments within the pandemic period, and therefore the 
resulting overpayment debts are subject to relief under this interim 
final rule.
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    \1\ See 20 CFR 416.204.
    \2\ For the purposes of this rule, whenever we cite the 
``pandemic period,'' we are referring only to the established period 
of March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020.
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    In contrast, overpayment debts that we identified through our 
automated processes, such as computer interfaces with the Department of 
Veteran Affairs (VA) and (for dually entitled SSI recipients) Social 
Security benefit systems, were not affected by the suspension of 
certain actions during the pandemic period, even if beneficiaries 
incurred the debts during the pandemic period and in the same manner as 
some in the manually processed group. Therefore, these overpayment 
debts will be subject to our existing overpayment debt waiver process. 
For example, an SSI recipient failed to timely report receipt of VA 
compensation (not based on need) that began in March 2020, during the 
pandemic period. In July 2020, we identified the receipt VA 
compensation through our automated processes and updated to the SSI 
record, creating an overpayment in the pandemic period. In this 
example, the overpayment debt will be subject to our existing 
overpayment debt waiver process.
    Beginning on August 31, 2020, we intend to resume workloads that we 
suspended beginning in mid-March 2020. As we process the suspended 
workloads, we anticipate identifying a number of overpayments that we 
would have identified and acted on earlier had it not been for our 
response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of our delay in acting, it 
is probable that the resulting overpayment debts may be larger in 
amount and greater in number than they would otherwise have been 
through no fault of the affected beneficiaries.
    Overpayment debts incurred during the pandemic period between March 
1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 may be directly the result of the COVID-
19 national public health emergency and our unprecedented response to 
it: Our suspension of manually processing and collecting certain 
overpayment debts. The combination of the pandemic and our necessary 
response to it has created a set of circumstances unlike any other in 
the history of our programs. This unique situation affects a number of 
our beneficiaries and, more importantly, affects them in a uniformly 
detrimental manner primarily due to our reprioritizing workloads to 
suspend the manual processing of certain actions.
    Because of the unique nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, our 
unprecedented response to it, and its uniform impact on this group of 
beneficiaries, we are revising our rules to use a simplified waiver 
process for affected beneficiaries who request waiver of recovery of a 
qualifying overpayment debt. A qualifying overpayment debt is one that 
accrued at any point between March 1, 2020 through September 30, 2020 
and was directly impacted by our actions to defer and suspend certain 
workloads between March 17, 2020 and August 31, 2020. We designed this 
simplified waiver process to handle requests for waiver of overpayment 
debts efficiently and fairly, and to preserve our agency resources for 
mission-critical workloads. By implementing a streamlined process for 
this subset of overpayment debts, we can more efficiently 
administratively process qualifying overpayment debts and provide 
relief in a timely fashion to those directly impacted by our actions.

Summary of the Change

    For qualifying overpayment debts--that is, those that that relate 
to debts incurred during the period from March 1, 2020, through 
September 30, 2020 (the ``pandemic period''); that resulted because of 
our decision to defer action and suspend certain workloads; for which 
the beneficiary requests waiver and that we identify by December 31, 
2020--we will:
     Presume overpaid individuals are without fault in having 
caused the qualifying overpayment debt;
     determine that recovery of the portion of the qualifying 
overpayment debt incurred during the pandemic period would be against 
equity and good conscience; and
     waive recovery of the portion of a qualifying overpayment 
debt incurred during the pandemic period.
    For purposes of this interim final rule, we ``identify'' an 
overpayment debt when we discover the overpayment debt and initiate 
action to recover it.
    We will not apply this streamlined waiver process to overpayment 
debts resulting from fraud or similar fault or involving misuse of 
benefits by a representative payee.
    As we previously stated, actions that we took based on our 
automated processes will not qualify for this streamlined waiver 
process. In such cases, since we were not the cause of a delay in 
overpayment debts being assessed, and since we did not thus cause an 
increase in the amount of the overpayment debt, we are not including 
such actions in this special streamlined waiver process. However, in 
these cases, beneficiaries may request waiver of recovery of the 
overpayment debts through our existing processes, and we will develop 
the financial and other information needed to determine whether the 
individual qualifies for waiver under our existing regulations.\3\
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    \3\ See 20 CFR 404.506(c), 408.910, and 416.550.
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    We chose these dates for several reasons. SSA began its pandemic 
response activities in mid-March 2020, but we are using March 1, 2020, 
as the start date for the waiver period, as we assess actions on a 
monthly basis. Accordingly, if SSA stopped certain actions in mid-March 
2020, it actually affects payments for the entire month of March 2020. 
We are resuming normal workload processing on August 31, but the 
systems cutoff date to affect September payments occurs the third week 
of August. Since the agency will resume workload processing on August 
31, overpayments will have already accrued for the month of September, 
so it is appropriate for the period of this regulation's waiver to 
extend through September 30.
    If the overpayment debt relates to a period that began before March 
1, 2020 or after September 30, 2020 and includes all or part of the 
pandemic period, only the portion of the qualifying overpayment debt 
attributable to months during the pandemic period qualifies for the 
streamlined waiver process under this interim final rule. For the 
remainder of the overpayment debt, the individual retains the right to 
appeal our determination regarding the fact and amount of the 
overpayment, or request waiver of recovery of the overpayment debt 
under our existing regulations.
    Additionally, auxiliary beneficiaries under our title II programs 
may also be eligible for streamlined waiver of overpayment debts during 
the pandemic period, even if the primary beneficiary incurred an 
overpayment debt that is not eligible for streamlined waiver. For 
example, if a primary beneficiary incurred an overpayment debt due to 
what is found to be fraud, that person would not be eligible for a 
streamlined waiver under this interim final rule. However, if that 
person had an auxiliary

[[Page 52911]]

beneficiary, the auxiliary beneficiary, unlike the primary beneficiary, 
may be eligible for this overpayment waiver.
    Finally, under this interim final rule, we will not issue refunds 
outside of our normal debt waiver processes for overpayment debt 
recoveries that occurred during the pandemic period. If a beneficiary 
or recipient had benefits withheld during the pandemic period, or if we 
have already begun to withhold benefits due to an overpayment debt that 
accrued in part or in whole during the pandemic period, we will not 
issue refunds under this interim final rule, because these actions are 
not within the scope of this interim final rule. Those beneficiaries 
had their overpayment debts and related waiver requests handled in the 
usual course of business, and we did not cause or increase the 
overpayment debt by our decision to suspend processing of certain 
workloads.
    This interim final rule will apply to qualifying overpayment debts 
that we identify by December 31, 2020. We estimate that a December 31, 
2020 cut-off will allow us sufficient time to identify all the 
qualifying overpayments that we held during the pandemic period. When 
we review a beneficiary's case and find that it occurred during the 
pandemic period, we will annotate it with a special code. That code 
will help ensure that we know this case should be evaluated under the 
interim final rule.
    An example of how this would work in practice: In April 2020, we 
received evidence reflecting an increase in income for an SSI 
beneficiary, and we determined that the beneficiary's payments should 
in fact be lower based on the updated income information. However, we 
did not process the actual change in payment from April 2020 until the 
present, because we had suspended such actions during the pandemic 
period. Because we held this case until we resumed processing such 
actions in September 2020, and it was through no fault of the 
beneficiary's that they received overpayment amounts during the 
pandemic period, it would be considered a qualifying overpayment debt 
under the interim final rule.
    An example of a situation that would not apply under the interim 
final rule: If we received evidence in January 2021 reflecting an 
increase in income for an SSI beneficiary that first began in April 
2020, this SSI beneficiary would not qualify for the special waiver. 
Because we were not working on the case throughout the pandemic period 
and, accordingly, we were not holding our processing of the increased 
income amount, our actions were not responsible for the accrual of 
overpayment debt, so the debt does not qualify for this special waiver 
process. As always, of course, the beneficiary may still be considered 
for a waiver under our existing waiver process.
    We chose to apply the streamlined waiver process to qualifying 
overpayment debts we identify by December 31, 2020 to fulfill of our 
obligation under the Act to ensure effective and responsible 
stewardship of the Social Security programs. Including the time 
limitation appropriately balances our stewardship obligation with the 
needs of beneficiaries who rely on our programs. We also chose the 
December 31, 2020 cutoff date because it limits the amount of time we 
have to apply two separate overpayment debt business processes; 
extending the period indefinitely would exacerbate that operational 
issue. We also gain administrative efficiencies by applying a single 
waiver of overpayment debt recovery rule to the qualifying subset of 
all incurred payments during the period, and the effect of those 
efficiencies is lessened when we follow multiple processes for an 
extended period. We need to operate efficiently because we expect--due 
to resuming the workloads we suspended in March 2020--to have to 
process a significantly higher amount of work over the coming months 
than comparable periods in the past. In light of these reasons, we 
believe the appropriate cutoff date for identifying qualifying 
overpayment debts is December 31, 2020.
    Effective August 31, 2020, language in our overpayment notices will 
direct beneficiaries to contact their local Field Office with any 
questions about their overpayment, or to request an overpayment waiver. 
Field Office technicians will review the beneficiary's record to 
determine if the overpayment qualifies for a streamlined waiver, and if 
so, will document the request for waiver on an electronic Report of 
Contact (SSA-5002) and attest to the beneficiary's signature. Under the 
streamlined process, the beneficiary will not be required to complete 
the full form SSA-632 or provide supporting information about his or 
her income and expenses to make the waiver determination for the 
qualified debt. SSA will terminate the language in the overpayment 
notices effective December 31, 2020.

Difference From Current Policy

    Under sections 204(a) and 1631(b)(1)(A) of the Act,\4\ the 
Commissioner ``shall'' seek repayment of overpayment debts, by one or 
more of the methods listed in each section, unless waiver of recovery 
of the overpayment debt is appropriate. Consequently, we must seek 
repayments of overpayment debts made under both title II and title XVI 
of the Act, unless the circumstances of the overpaid individual satisfy 
the waiver criteria set out in sections 204(b) or 1631(b)(1)(B) of the 
Act.\5\ Under sections 204(b) and 1631(b)(1)(B) of the Act, we waive 
recovery of an overpayment debt when the overpaid individual is without 
fault in causing the overpayment debt and adjustment or recovery would 
defeat the purpose of the statute, or would be against equity and good 
conscience, or, for title XVI overpayment debts only, would impede the 
efficient or effective administration of title XVI. These statutory 
criteria are broadly worded and provide us with considerable latitude 
to determine when it would be appropriate for us to waive recovery of 
an overpayment debt and to determine the process that we use to waive 
recovery of overpayment debts.
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    \4\ 42 U.S.C. 404(a) and 1383(b)(1)(A).
    \5\ 42 U.S.C. 404(b) and 1383(b)(1)(B).
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    Under the current regulations and our internal agency instructions, 
before we can waive recovery of an overpayment debt, we must document 
any request for waiver, and develop any allegations an individual 
raises in the waiver request.\6\ We must obtain sufficient information 
to clarify issues of fault, and then often consider the individual's 
ability to repay and issues of equity, each of which may require the 
overpaid individual to submit additional documentation as evidence. We 
must review the evidence and first determine whether the individual is 
without fault in causing the overpayment and meets at least one of the 
other requirements for waiver specified in the Act and regulations.
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    \6\ See 20 CFR 404.506(c), 408.910, and 416.550 and POMS GN 
02201.021, GN 02201.021, GN 02201.023, GN 02250.230, GN 02250.244, 
GN 02250.400, GN 02250.255, SI 02260.001, SI 02260.005, SI 
02260.010, SI 02260.020, and VB 02205.310SI 02260.025.
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    The other requirements for waiver shared by titles II, VIII, XVI 
are that recovery would defeat the purpose of the program or be against 
equity and good conscience. To determine if recovery of an overpayment 
debt is against equity and good conscience, our current regulations 
require us to develop information that an individual changed his or her 
position for the worse or relinquished a valuable right because of 
reliance upon a notice that a payment would be made or because of

[[Page 52912]]

the overpayment debt itself.\7\ Generally, when an individual requests 
waiver, we request and review information the individual provided us in 
order to determine whether the individual is without fault in causing 
the overpayment and that recovery would either defeat the purpose of 
the program or be against equity and conscience.\8\ If we are unable to 
grant a waiver based upon review of the information available, we offer 
the person the opportunity for a file review so that the individual can 
review the file and applicable law and regulations with one of our 
representatives, who is prepared to answer questions.\9\ Individuals 
also have the right to have a personal conference, where the person may 
offer further explanation and documentation to a decision maker.\10\ 
This interim final rule does not change the formal aspects of 
requesting a waiver for overpayment debt, insofar as the beneficiary 
will continue to be able to contact SSA to initiate the process, the 
same waiver request application will be used, and when waivers are 
issued they will be communicated to beneficiaries in the same manner. 
However, when a beneficiary calls their local field office to request a 
waiver, if the overpayment is covered under this interim final rule, 
the agency will ask the beneficiary to provide less information than is 
normally required to adjudicate an overpayment waiver decision, such as 
information about a beneficiary's income, expenses, assets, and use of 
overpayment funds. Beneficiaries covered under this interim final rule 
should normally expect to be able to provide the necessary information 
over the phone while guided by our employees and without doing anything 
differently in advance of the call.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ See 20 CFR 404.509; 408.914, 416.554 and POMS GN 02250.150, 
and SI 02260.025, VB 02005.330.
    \8\ See 20 CFR 404.506 and 416.557.
    \9\ 20 CFR 404.506(c) and (d) and 416.577(a) and (b); POMS GN 
02270.009, SI 02260.006, VB 02005.360.
    \10\ See 20 CFR 404.506(e) & (f); 416.557(c) and (d); and POMS 
GN 02270.013, SI 02260.006, VB 02005.360.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Under this interim final rule, we will use a streamlined waiver 
process for qualifying overpayment debts. Qualifying overpayment debts 
include debts accrued during the pandemic period because of our 
decision to defer action and suspend certain workloads that would have 
otherwise allowed us to identify and take appropriate action on the 
overpayments. Under this interim final rule, we will presume that the 
overpaid individual was without fault in causing the qualifying 
overpayment debt, subject to limited exclusions discussed above for 
overpayment debts that resulted from fraud or similar fault or misuse 
of benefits by a representative payee. Therefore, due to the no fault 
presumption, we will not fully develop the issue of fault. If we 
presume that the overpaid individual is without fault, we will 
determine that recovery of the overpayment debt would be against equity 
and good conscience without requiring the beneficiary or recipient to 
specifically show that he or she relinquished a valuable right or 
changed position, in reliance on the overpayment debt, for the worse. 
For purposes of this interim final rule, we will apply a broad concept 
of fairness when we find that recovery of the overpayment debt would be 
against equity and good conscience.

Regulatory Procedures

Justification for Issuing a Rule Without Notice and Comment

    We follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking 
procedures specified in 5 U.S.C. 553 when we develop regulations. 
Generally, the APA requires that an agency provide prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment before issuing a final rule. The APA 
provides exceptions to its notice and public comment procedures when an 
agency finds there is good cause for dispensing with such procedures 
because they are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public 
interest (5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B)).
    We find that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to issue 
this interim final rule without prior public comment because prior 
public comment is impracticable and contrary to the public interest. As 
discussed above, this interim final rule will allow us to presume that 
certain individuals whose overpayment debts accrued during the March 1-
September 30, 2020 COVID-19 pandemic period and that we identify by 
December 31 2020 were without fault in causing their overpayment debts 
because of our decision to suspend certain workloads and stop certain 
actions temporarily. The rule also allows us to apply a streamlined 
waiver process to decide waiver requests from these individuals. In the 
absence of this rule, our existing regulations would require us to 
continue to fully develop requests for waiver of these overpayment 
debts.
    We find that public comment is impracticable because the delay 
associated with the public comment process would impede our ability to 
resume more normal operations. The delay associated with the public 
comment process would also impede our ability to operate because it 
would require us to continue to use our administrative resources to 
develop overpayment debt waiver requests for overpayments that we can 
readily presume were not the fault of the affected individuals. 
Applying our normal overpayment debt processes to these overpayment 
debts--rather than the streamlined processes in the interim final 
rule--would prevent us from using those administrative resources to 
perform other time sensitive and mission critical workloads that we 
deferred during the pandemic period. Enhancing our ability to perform 
these other critical workloads by forgoing public comment on this rule 
will allow us to begin to operate more normally and serve the interests 
of all beneficiaries, who are entitled to timely and responsive service 
from us, even during these unprecedented circumstances.
    We also find that delaying this interim final rule to obtain public 
comment would be contrary to the public interest. A delay in 
implementation would burden the affected beneficiaries, who will 
receive notices of overpayment debts when we begin resuming normal 
workloads, and require them to prove the requirements for waiver by 
submitting the necessary evidence for us to consider. The delay 
associated with a public comment period would also be contrary to the 
public interest because it would reduce the effectiveness of the rule 
and the streamlined waiver process we are establishing. We are 
finalizing this rule before we resume the workloads that we suspended 
in March 2020 and begin assessing overpayment debts incurred during the 
pandemic period. If we delayed resuming our suspended workloads in 
order to obtain public comment on the rule, beneficiaries may incur a 
greater amount of overpayment debt than they would under the 
streamlined waiver process we are establishing. Prior public comment 
would therefore defeat the purpose of this rule, which is to provide 
effective and timely relief and ensure economic security to overpaid 
individuals affected by our actions to reprioritize our workloads to 
stop certain actions during the pandemic period. We thus find that it 
would be contrary to the public interest to obtain public comment and 
delay our ability to waive these overpayment debts, which were not the 
fault of the affected individuals.
    In addition, for the reasons cited above, we find good cause for 
dispensing with the 30-day delay in the effective date of this rule 
provided for

[[Page 52913]]

in 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). So, we are making this interim final rule 
effective upon publication.
    Although we are making this interim final rule effective on 
publication, we invite public comment on all aspects of the interim 
final rule. We will consider any substantive comments we receive within 
60 days of the publication of this interim final rule and will issue a 
revised final rule if necessary after we consider the public comments.

Executive Order 12866, as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563

    We have consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
and determined that this interim final rule meets the criteria for a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and is 
subject to OMB review.
Anticipated Costs to Our Programs
    Our Office of the Chief Actuary estimates that implementing this 
interim final rule will result in a reduction in recovered overpayment 
debts of approximately $238 million over FYs 2020-30, $157 million for 
the OASDI program and $80 million for the Federal SSI program.
Anticipated Administrative Savings to SSA in FY 2021
    Our Office of Budget, Finance, and Management estimates that this 
change will result in net administrative savings to the agency of up to 
220 workyears and $20 million to resume processing actions for these 
overpayment debts. To arrive at our estimate, we estimate an additional 
5 minutes per action resumed to identify whether the overpayment falls 
within the COVID period for purposes of the final rule, offset by 
savings of 30 minutes to waive the overpayments for those requesting 
relief. We expect to realize the entirety of the net savings in FY 
2021.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    We analyzed this rule in accordance with the principles and 
criteria established by Executive Order 13132, and determined that the 
interim final rule will not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. We also determined 
that this interim final rule will not preempt any State law or State 
regulation or affect the States' abilities to discharge traditional 
State governmental functions.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that this interim final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities, because it 
affects only individuals. Therefore, a Regulatory Flexibility Act, as 
amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility 
analysis.

E.O. 13771

    This interim final rule is a deregulatory action, because it 
results in administrative cost savings, as well as burden reduction for 
the public.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    We maintain existing OMB PRA-approved information collection tools 
relating to this interim final rule: The Request for Waiver of 
Overpayment Recovery (Form SSA-632-BK, OMB No. 0960-0037), which 
respondents use to request a waiver; and the Important Information 
About Your Appeal, Waiver Rights, and Repayment (Form SSA-3105, OMB No. 
0960-0779), which respondents use to inform us that they may want to 
request an appeal or request a change in repayment rate of an 
overpayment. We do not plan to make any revisions to these forms due to 
this interim final rule.
    While we do not plan to make any revisions to these forms, we will 
not need to ask all of the information on form SSA-632 (OMB No. 0960-
0037) from respondents who contact us regarding overpayment waivers, 
and whose overpayments ultimately prove to be affected by this rule. As 
discussed in the preamble, SSA expects that for respondents covered 
under this IFR, the agency will not ask respondents questions regarding 
income, assets, expenses, or information about receiving the 
overpayment that may normally be pertinent for adjudicating a request 
for waiving overpayment debt. In a typical change to an information 
collection, we would provide a different, reduced burden estimate for 
these respondents. However, the burden range already reported in the 
OMB-approved information collection request (ICR) is so wide--5 to 120 
minutes--that we see no need to calculate a new burden, as the 
respondents affected by this regulation would certainly fall within 
that range. In addition, while this interim final rule allows us to use 
a streamlined waiver for qualifying overpayment debts, we do not 
anticipate receiving, on an annual basis, more waiver requests in total 
than we normally receive. Finally, because we do not know the number of 
affected respondents (having not yet examined the universe of possible 
cases), that is also not a factor that would result in burden 
recalculation. Ultimately, though, because the burden we already report 
for the 0960-0037 ICR includes all of those respondents anyway, that 
too does not require a new burden calculation.
    Accordingly, we are not soliciting public comment under the PRA on 
these ICs. However, upon publication of this interim final rule, we 
will submit a non-substantive change request to OMB (viewable to the 
public) to document the temporary, short-term, COVID-related change in 
criteria we will use for affected respondents.

(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, Aged, Alimony, Blind, 
Disability benefits, Government employees, Income taxes, Individuals 
with disabilities, Insurance, Investigations, Penalties, Railroad 
retirement, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social security, 
Travel and transportation expenses, Treaties, Veterans, Vocational 
rehabilitation.

20 CFR Part 408

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

20 CFR Part 416

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Alcoholism, Blind, 
Disability benefits, Drug abuse, Investigations, Medicaid, Penalties, 
Public assistance programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, 
Social security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Travel and 
transportation expenses, Vocational rehabilitation.
    The Commissioner of Social Security, Andrew Saul, having reviewed 
and approved this document, is delegating the authority to 
electronically sign this document to Faye I. Lipsky, who is the primary 
Federal Register Liaison for the Social Security Administration, for 
purposes of publication in the Federal Register.

Faye I. Lipsky,
Federal Register Liaison, Office of Legislative and Congressional 
Affairs, Social Security Administration.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble, we are amending subpart F 
of part 404, subpart I of part 408, and subpart E of part 416 of title 
20 of the Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below:

[[Page 52914]]

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

Subpart F--Overpayments, Underpayments, Waiver of Adjustment or 
Recovery of Overpayments, and Liability of a Certifying Officer

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

    Authority: Secs. 204, 205(a), 702(a)(5), and 1147 of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 404, 405(a), 902(a)(5), and 1320b-17); 31 
U.S.C. 3711; 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 U.S.C. 3720A.

0
2. Amend Sec.  404.501 by adding a sentence after the second sentence 
in paragraph (a) introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  404.501  General applicability of section 204 of the Act.

    (a) * * * The term pandemic period as used throughout this subpart 
for the purposes of the waiver authority in Sec.  404.506(b) refers 
exclusively to the period of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and 
ending on September 30, 2020. * * *
* * * * *

0
3. Amend Sec.  404.506 by:
0
a. Redesignating paragraphs (b) through (h) as paragraphs (c) through 
(i); and
0
b. Adding a new paragraph (b).
    The addition reads as follows:


Sec.  404.506  When waiver may be applied and how to process the 
request.

* * * * *
    (b) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (b) when an 
individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment.
    (1) For purposes of this paragraph (b), a qualifying overpayment is 
one that accrued during the pandemic period (see Sec.  404.501(a)) 
because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID-19 
national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain 
of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying 
and stopping certain overpayments.
    (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will 
presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying 
overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see Sec.  
404.507) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a 
beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or 
similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee 
(see Sec.  404.2041).
    (3) If we determine under paragraph (b)(2) of this section that an 
individual or a representative payee is without fault in causing a 
qualifying overpayment we will also determine that recovery of the 
qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For 
purposes of this paragraph (b)(3) only, ``against equity and good 
conscience'' is not limited to the meaning used in Sec.  404.509 but 
means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the 
facts and circumstances of the case.
    (4) If we determine that a primary beneficiary is not without fault 
with respect to a qualifying overpayment under paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, because it was caused by fraud or similar fault or because of 
representative payee misuse, we may still find that any auxiliary 
beneficiaries on the primary beneficiary's record are eligible for 
waiver of recovery of the qualifying overpayment under this paragraph 
(b). If an auxiliary beneficiary requests waiver of a qualifying 
overpayment in accordance with this paragraph (b), we will waive 
recovery of the overpayment if the auxiliary beneficiary meets all of 
the requirements of this paragraph (b).
    (5) The provisions of this paragraph (b) will apply to a qualifying 
overpayment identified by December 31, 2020.
* * * * *

0
4. Amend Sec.  404.507 by adding a sentence after the third sentence of 
the introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  404.507  Fault.

    * * * Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will 
not determine any overpaid individual to be at fault in causing a 
qualifying overpayment (see Sec.  404.506(b)(1)) unless we determine 
that the qualifying overpayment made to a beneficiary or a 
representative payee during the pandemic period (see Sec.  404.501) was 
the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by 
a representative payee (see Sec.  404.2041).* * *
* * * * *

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

Subpart I--Underpayments and Overpayments

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

    Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 808, and 1147 of the Social Security 
Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1008, and 1320b-17); 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 
U.S.C. 3720A.

0
6. Amend Sec.  408.902 by:
0
a. Designating the paragraph as paragraph (a); and
0
b. Adding paragraph (b).
    The addition read as follows:


Sec.  408.902  What is an overpayment?

* * * * *
    (b) As used in this subpart, the term pandemic period for the 
purposes of the waiver authority in Sec.  408.910 refers exclusively to 
the period of time beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending on September 
30, 2020.

0
7. Amend Sec.  408.910 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  408.910  When will we waive recovery of an SVB overpayment?

* * * * *
    (c) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (c) when an 
individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment.
    (1) For purposes of this paragraph (c), a qualifying overpayment is 
one that accrued during the pandemic period (see Sec.  408.902(b)) 
because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID-19 
national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain 
of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying 
and stopping certain overpayments.
    (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will 
presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying 
overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see Sec.  
408.912) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a 
beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or 
similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee 
(see Sec.  408.641).
    (3) If we determine under paragraph (c)(2) of this section that an 
individual or a representative payee is without fault in causing a 
qualifying overpayment, we will also determine that recovery of the 
qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For 
purposes of this paragraph (c)(3) only, ``against equity and good 
conscience'' is not limited to the meaning used in Sec.  408.914 but 
means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the 
facts and circumstances of the case.
    (4) The provisions of this paragraph (c) will apply to a qualifying 
overpayment identified by December 31, 2020.

0
8. Amend Sec.  408.912 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  408.912  When are you without fault regarding an overpayment?

* * * * *
    (c) Special rule for qualifying overpayments. Notwithstanding any

[[Page 52915]]

other provision of this subpart, we will not determine any overpaid 
individual to be at fault in causing a qualifying overpayment (see 
Sec.  408.910(c)(1)) unless we determine that the qualifying 
overpayment made to an individual or a representative payee during the 
pandemic period (see Sec.  408.902(b)) was the result of fraud or 
similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee 
(see Sec.  408.641).

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

Subpart E--Payment of Benefits, Overpayments, and Underpayments

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

    Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1147, 1601, 1602, 1611(c) and (e), 
and 1631(a)-(d) and (g) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
902(a)(5), 1320b-17, 1381, 1381a, 1382(c) and (e), and 1383(a)-(d) 
and (g)); 31 U.S.C. 3716; 31 U.S.C. 3720A.

0
10. Amend Sec.  416.537 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.537  Overpayments--defined.

* * * * *
    (c) Pandemic period. As used throughout this subpart, the term 
pandemic period for the purposes of the waiver authority in Sec.  
416.550 refers exclusively to the period of time beginning on March 1, 
2020, and ending on September 30, 2020.

0
11. Amend Sec.  416.550 by adding paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.550  Waiver of adjustment or recovery--when applicable.

* * * * *
    (c) We will apply the procedures in this paragraph (c) when an 
individual requests waiver of all or part of a qualifying overpayment.
    (1) For purposes of this paragraph (c), a qualifying overpayment is 
one that accrued during the pandemic period (see Sec.  416.537(c)) 
because of the actions that we took in response to the COVID-19 
national public health emergency, including the suspension of certain 
of our manual workloads that would have processed actions identifying 
and stopping certain overpayments.
    (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will 
presume that an individual who requests waiver of a qualifying 
overpayment is without fault in causing the overpayment (see Sec.  
416.552) unless we determine that the qualifying overpayment made to a 
beneficiary or a representative payee was the result of fraud or 
similar fault or involved misuse of benefits by a representative payee 
(see Sec.  416.641).
    (3) If we determine under paragraph (c)(2) of this section that an 
individual or a representative payee is without fault in causing a 
qualifying overpayment, we will also determine that recovery of the 
qualifying overpayment would be against equity and good conscience. For 
purposes of this paragraph (c)(3) only, ``against equity and good 
conscience'' is not limited to the meaning used in Sec.  416.554 but 
means a broad concept of fairness that takes into account all of the 
facts and circumstances of the case.
    (4) The provisions of this paragraph (c)(4) will apply to a 
qualifying overpayment identified by December 31, 2020.

0
12. Amend Sec.  416.552 by adding a sentence following the second 
sentence of the introductory text to read as follows:


Sec.  416.552  Waiver of adjustment or recovery--without fault.

    * * * Notwithstanding any other provision of this subpart, we will 
not determine any overpaid individual to be at fault in causing a 
qualifying overpayment (see Sec.  416.550(c)(1)) unless we determine 
that the qualifying overpayment made to an individual or a 
representative payee during the pandemic period (see Sec.  416.537(c)) 
was the result of fraud or similar fault or involved misuse of benefits 
by a representative payee (see Sec.  416.641). * * *
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2020-18834 Filed 8-26-20; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P