Privacy Act of 1974; as Amended; New System of Records and New Routine Use Disclosures
In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) and (e)(11)), we are issuing public notice of our intent to establish a new system of records entitled Reasonable Accommodation for Persons With Disabilities (RAPD) System, 60-0315, and routine uses applicable to this system of records. Hereinafter, we will refer to the proposed system of records as the RAPD System. The proposed system of records will consist of information used to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees on the basis of disability, the disposition of the requests and the reasonable accommodations provided. We invite public comments on this proposal.
Office of the Commissioner; Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2006
The Commissioner has determined (1) A 4.1 percent cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), effective for December 2005; (2) An increase in the Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit amounts under title XVI of the Act for 2006 to $603 for an eligible individual, $904 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $302 for an essential person; (3) The student earned income exclusion to be $1,460 per month in 2006 but not more than $5,910 in all of 2006; (4) The dollar fee limit for services performed as a representative payee to be $33 per month ($64 per month in the case of a beneficiary who is disabled and has an alcoholism or drug addiction condition that leaves him or her incapable of managing benefits) in 2006; (5) The national average wage index for 2004 to be $35,648.55; (6) The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) contribution and benefit base to be $94,200 for remuneration paid in 2006 and self-employment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2006; (7) The monthly exempt amounts under the Social Security retirement earnings test for taxable years ending in calendar year 2006 to be $1,040 and $2,770; (8) The dollar amounts (``bend points'') used in the primary insurance amount benefit formula for workers who become eligible for benefits, or who die before becoming eligible, in 2006 to be $656 and $3,955; (9) The dollar amounts (``bend points'') used in the formula for computing maximum family benefits for workers who become eligible for benefits, or who die before becoming eligible, in 2006 to be $838, $1,210, and $1,578; (10) The amount of taxable earnings a person must have to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2006 to be $970; (11) The ``old-law'' contribution and benefit base to be $69,900 for 2006; (12) The monthly amount deemed to constitute substantial gainful activity for statutorily blind individuals in 2006 to be $1,450, and the corresponding amount for non-blind disabled persons to be $860; (13) The earnings threshold establishing a month as a part of a trial work period to be $620 for 2006; and (14) Coverage thresholds for 2006 to be $1,500 for domestic workers and $1,300 for election workers.
Deemed Duration of Marriage for Widows/Widowers and Removal of Restriction on Benefits to Children of Military Parents Overseas
We are issuing these final rules to reflect in our regulations changes to the Social Security Act (the Act) made by two provisions in the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA), enacted on March 2, 2004. One provision added a new situation in which the 9-month duration-of-marriage requirement for surviving spouses under title II of the Act is deemed to have been met. The other provision removed a restriction against payment of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, under title XVI of the Act, to certain blind or disabled children who were not eligible for SSI benefits the month before their military parents reported for duty outside the United States.
Town Hall Meetings on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Ticket To Work and Self-Sufficiency Program
We intend to hold a series of town hall meetings to maximize the opportunities for individuals and organizations to give us input on our Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to amend our regulations for the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program (Ticket to Work program). We invite the public, including beneficiaries and other individuals with disabilities, their advocates, service providers, employers and other interested parties to attend these public meetings and to give us input on our proposed changes to the rules for the Ticket to Work program. We are announcing the scheduling of the first of these town hall meetings and a tentative schedule of additional meetings.
Rules for the Issuance of Work Report Receipts, Payment of Benefits for Trial Work Period Service Months After a Fraud Conviction, Changes to the Student Earned Income Exclusion, and Expansion of the Reentitlement Period for Childhood Disability Benefits
We are proposing to amend our rules to reflect and implement sections 202, 208, 420A, and 432 of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (the SSPA). Section 202 of the SSPA requires us to issue a receipt each time you or your representative report a change in your work activity or give us documentation of a change in your earnings if you receive benefits based on disability under title II or title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). Section 208 changes the way we pay benefits during the trial work period if you are convicted by a Federal court of fraudulently concealing your work activity. Section 420A changed the law to allow you to become reentitled to childhood disability benefits under title II at any time if your previous entitlement to childhood disability benefits was terminated because of the performance of substantial gainful activity. Section 432 changes the way we decide if you are eligible for the student earned income exclusion. We also propose to change the SSI student policy to include home schooling as a form of regular school attendance. Additionally, we are proposing to apply the student earned income exclusion when determining the countable income of an ineligible spouse or ineligible parent.
Representative Payment Policies and Administrative Procedure for Imposing Penalties for False or Misleading Statements or Withholding of Information
We propose to amend our regulations on representative payment and on the administrative procedure for imposing penalties for false or misleading statements or withholding of information to reflect and implement certain provisions of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA), Public Law 108-203. The SSPA amends representative payment policies by providing additional safeguards for Social Security, Special Veterans and Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries served by representative payees. These changes include additional disqualifying factors for representative payee applicants, additional requirements for non-governmental fee-for-service payees, authority to redirect delivery of benefit payments when a representative payee fails to provide required accountings, and authority to treat misused benefits as an overpayment to the representative payee. In addition, we propose to modify our rules to explain financial requirements for representative payees, and we also have made minor clarifying plain language changes. The SSPA also allows SSA to impose a penalty on any person who knowingly withholds information that is material for use in determining any right to or the amount of monthly benefits under titles II or XVI. The penalty is nonpayment for a specified number of months of benefits under title II that would otherwise be payable and ineligibility for the same period of time for cash benefits under title XVI (including State supplementary payments).
Alteration to Existing Systems of Records
In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a (e)(4)), we are issuing public notice of our intent to alter and make minor housekeeping changes to two existing systems of records, the Working File of the Appeals Council, HHS/SSA/OHA, 09-60-0004, and the Administrative Law Judge Working File on Claimant Cases System, HHS/ SSA/OHA, 09-60-0005, hereinafter referred to as the ALJ Working File, as follows: Expansion of the record storage medium in each system of records to include the maintenance of records in electronic form; Housekeeping changes that will result in corrections in the systems of records reference number; System name; Notification procedures; Record access procedures; and Contesting records procedures. We also propose to make housekeeping changes to the SSA Litigation Tracking System, HHS/SSA/LS, 09-60-0186 system of records to more accurately reflect the current functions of that system. The proposed changes will include corrections to the following sections of the notice of the SSA Litigation Tracking system of records: Systems of records reference number; System name; Notification procedures; Record access procedures; Contesting record procedures; and System manager. The proposed alteration and housekeeping changes are discussed in the Supplementary Information section below. We invite public comments on this proposal.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Alterations to Existing System of Records and New Routine Use Disclosure
In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) and (e)(11)), we are issuing public notice of our intent to alter an existing system of records entitled the Visitor Intake Process/Customer Service Record (VIP/CSR) System, 60-0350. The proposed alterations will result in the following changes to the VIP/CSR system of records: (1) Expansion of the categories of individuals covered by the VIP/ CSR system of records to include individuals who visit any SSA office or who may contact any SSA office by telephone and/or by e-mail and who attempt or commit a violent act or make threats of violence towards an SSA employee, any individual visiting an SSA office conducting business, or any SSA office; and recording identifying information about the individual within the Visitor Intake Process/Customer Service Record (VIP/CSR) system. (2) Expansion of the categories of records maintained in the VIP/ CSR system of records to include identifying information about the new category of individuals that will be maintained in the VIP/CSR system of records, and a ``High Risk'' alert indicator based on type of threat or act of violence perpetrated by the individual. (3) Expansion of the purposes for which SSA uses information maintained in the VIP/CSR system of records to include use of the system to alert employees in a Social Security office when an individual attempted or committed a violent act or made threats of violence towards an SSA employee, any individual visiting an SSA office conducting business, or any SSA office ; and (4) A proposed new routine use disclosure applicable to information in the VIP/CSR system of records providing for the release of information to law enforcement agencies and private security contractors to protect the safety of SSA employees and customers, the security of the SSA workplace and the operation of SSA facilities, or to assist investigations or prosecutions with respect to activities that affect such safety and security or activities that disrupts the operation of SSA facilities. All of the proposed alterations are discussed in the Supplementary Information section below. We invite public comment on this proposal.
Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of Labor (DOL))-Match Number 1003
In accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, as amended, this notice announces the renewal of an existing computer matching program that SSA is currently conducting with DOL.
Exemption of Work Activity as a Basis for a Continuing Disability Review
We are proposing to amend our regulations to include rules to carry out section 221(m) of the Social Security Act (the Act). Section 221(m) affects our rules for when we will conduct a continuing disability review if you work and receive benefits under title II of the Act based on disability. (We interpret this section to include you if you receive both title II disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments based on disability.) It also affects our rules on how we evaluate work activity when we decide if you have engaged in substantial gainful activity for purposes of determining whether your disability has ended. In addition, section 221(m) of the Act affects certain other standards we use when we determine whether your disability continues or ends. We are also proposing to make certain other revisions to our regulations for how we determine whether your disability continues or ends. These other proposed revisions would codify our existing operating instructions for how we consider certain work at the last two steps of our continuing disability review process. In addition, we are proposing to incorporate into our disability regulations some rules which are contained in another part of our regulations and which apply if you are using a ticket under the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program (the Ticket to Work program). Finally, we are proposing to amend our regulations to eliminate the secondary substantial gainful activity amount that we currently use to evaluate work you did as an employee before January 2001.