Extension of the Expiration Date for Several Body Systems Listings
This final rule extends until July 1, 2010, the date on which Listing of Impairments (the listings) for six body systems will no longer be effective. We use the listings at the third step of the sequential evaluation process when we evaluate your claim for benefits based on disability under title II and title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). Other than extending the effective date of the listings, we have made no revisions to the listings; they remain the same as they now appear in the Code of Federal Regulations. This extension will ensure that we continue to have the medical evaluation criteria in the listings to adjudicate disability claims involving these body systems at the third step of the sequential evaluation process.
Amendments to the Ticket To Work and Self-Sufficiency Program
We are revising our regulations for the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (Ticket to Work program), which was authorized by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. The Ticket to Work program provides Social Security Disability Insurance and disabled Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries expanded options for access to employment services, vocational rehabilitation services, and other support services. We are revising our prior rules to improve the overall effectiveness of the program to maximize the economic self-sufficiency of beneficiaries through work opportunities. We have based these revisions on our projections of the future direction of the Ticket to Work program, our experience using the prior rules, and recommendations made by commenters on the program.
Rescission of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling 99-1(2)
In accordance with 20 CFR 402.35(b)(1), 404.985(e) and 416.1485(e), the Commissioner of Social Security gives notice of the rescission of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling 99-1(2).
Parent-to-Child Deeming From Stepparents
We are changing the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) parent- to-child deeming rules so that we no longer will consider the income and resources of a stepparent when an eligible child resides in the household with a stepparent, but that child's natural or adoptive parent has permanently left the household. These rules respond to a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, codified in Social Security Acquiescence Ruling (AR) 99-1(2), and establish a uniform national policy. Also, we are making uniform the age at which we consider someone to be a ``child'' in SSI program regulations and are making other minor clarifications to our rules.
The Commissioner of Social Security gives notice that SSA intends to add a new calculator to its online Benefit Calculators suite. The Retirement Estimator will allow authenticated individuals to calculate estimates of potential retirement benefits in real-time, based in part on their SSA-maintained records and in part on user- entered information, such as the last year of Social Security earnings. In addition to quick estimates of retirement benefits at specific points such as full retirement age, users may also submit a number of ``what if'' scenarios based on information they provide regarding future earnings and retirement dates. The estimates can be printed and saved. The initial release of the Retirement Estimator will not reflect offset due to the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP), or Government Pension Offset (GPO). SSA currently has four benefit calculators on its Web site-the Quick, Online, WEP and Detailed calculators (http://www.ssa.gov/ planners/calculators.htm). The Quick Calculator provides a simple, rough estimate based on user-entered date of birth and current year earnings. For more precise estimates, the Online, WEP and Detailed calculators require that the user have access to his or her Social Security Statement in order to manually key each year of their lifetime earnings for use in the benefit computation. American Customer Satisfaction Index Surveys consistently indicate that less than 25% of users have their Statement available when using the calculators; therefore, 75% of users cannot immediately use the Online, WEP and Detailed calculators. The Detailed Calculator also requires downloading and installing software. In accordance with OMB Circular A-130 and OMB Memo M-04-04, E- Authentication Guidelines for Federal Agencies, SSA conducted an authentication risk assessment. Based on the analysis of the Impact Categories and corresponding Assurance Level Impact Profiles, the Retirement Estimator was assessed at a medium level of risk (Level 2). There will be no disclosure of Personal Identifying Information that could lead to identity theft, no disclosure of address information that could facilitate physical harm, and no disclosure of earnings information from SSA records. Further, the source data cannot be reverse-engineered from the estimate. Based on the risk assessment, a knowledge-based authentication protocol will be used to match user- entered information with SSA records in order to control access to the application. SSA consulted with privacy experts and added additional data matches in the authentication protocol and a ``block access'' feature that allows clients to prevent online access to their account. The Retirement Estimator calculator will provide a safe, user- friendly and convenient tool that will: (1) Contribute to financial literacy by helping members of the public plan for retirement; (2) help to promote SSA's online benefit application; and, (3) save Agency resources.
Testimony by Employees and the Production of Records and Information in Legal Proceedings; Change of Address for Requests
Our regulations describe when a Social Security Administration (SSA) employee will testify or provide records or other information in a legal proceeding to which we are not a party. The regulations also describe how you request testimony of an SSA employee. This final rule updates the address you should use to request testimony of an SSA employee.
Privacy and Disclosure of Official Records and Information
We are issuing this final rule to adopt without change the final rules with request for comment published on December 10, 2007, at 72 FR 69616. This final rule amends the regulation at 20 CFR Part 401, Appendix A, which requires us to release an employee's location of duty station upon request. This final rule also revises the regulation at 20 CFR 402.45 that describes the availability of records.
Establishment of the Future Systems Technology Advisory Panel
The Commissioner of Social Security is establishing the Future Systems Technology Advisory Panel under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). In making this decision, the Commissioner has found that the Panel is necessary and in the public interest. It will contribute to the performance of duties imposed upon SSA in carrying out its statutory mission. The Commissioner consulted with the Committee Management Secretariat, General Services Administration (GSA).