Exemption of Work Activity as a Basis for a Continuing Disability Review
We are publishing these final rules to amend our regulations 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 title XVI (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 amending our regulations concerning how we determine whether your disability continues or ends. These revisions will codify our existing operating instructions for how we consider certain work at the last two steps of our continuing disability review process. We are also revising our disability regulations to incorporate 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). In addition, we are amending 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.
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 revising 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 will also apply the student earned income exclusion when determining the countable income of an ineligible spouse or ineligible parent. We are also changing the SSI student policy to include home schooling as a form of regular school attendance.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; New System of Records
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 the Identity Management System, 60-0361, and routine uses applicable to this system of records. Hereinafter, we will refer to the proposed system of records as the IDMS system. We invite public comment on this proposal.
Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount
We are adding to our regulations a new subpart, Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount, to contain the rules we will follow for Medicare Part B income-related monthly adjustment amount determinations. The monthly adjustment amount represents the amount of decrease in the Medicare Part B premium subsidy, i.e. the amount of the Federal Government's contribution to the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund. This new subpart implements section 811 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA) and contains the rules for determining when, based on income, a monthly adjustment amount will be added to a Medicare Part B beneficiary's standard monthly premium. These final rules describe: What the new subpart is about; what information we will use to determine whether you will pay an income-related monthly adjustment amount and the amount of the adjustment when applicable; when we will consider a major life- changing event that results in a significant reduction in your modified adjusted gross income; and how you can appeal our determination about your income-related monthly adjustment amount.
Office of the Commissioner; Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2007
The Commissioner has determined (1) A 3.3 percent cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), effective for December 2006; (2) An increase in the Federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefit amounts under title XVI of the Act for 2007 to $623 for an eligible individual, $934 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $312 for an essential person; (3) The student earned income exclusion to be $1,510 per month in 2007 but not more than $6,100 in all of 2007; (4) The dollar fee limit for services performed as a representative payee to be $34 per month ($66 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 2007; (5) The dollar limit on the administrative-cost assessment charged to attorneys representing claimants to be $77 in 2007; (6) The national average wage index for 2005 to be $36,952.94; (7) The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) contribution and benefit base to be $97,500 for remuneration paid in 2007 and self-employment income earned in taxable years beginning in 2007; (8) The monthly exempt amounts under the Social Security retirement earnings test for taxable years ending in calendar year 2007 to be $1,080 and $2,870; (9) 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 2007 to be $680 and $4,100; (10) 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 2007 to be $869, $1,255, and $1,636; (11) The amount of taxable earnings a person must have to be credited with a quarter of coverage in 2007 to be $1,000; (12) The ``old-law'' contribution and benefit base to be $72,600 for 2007; (13) The monthly amount deemed to constitute substantial gainful activity for statutorily blind individuals in 2007 to be $1,500, and the corresponding amount for non-blind disabled persons to be $900; (14) The earnings threshold establishing a month as a part of a trial work period to be $640 for 2007; and (15) Coverage thresholds for 2007 to be $1,500 for domestic workers and $1,300 for election workers.
Representative Payment Policies and Administrative Procedure for Imposing Penalties for False or Misleading Statements or Withholding of Information
We are amending 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). 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 are amending our rules to explain financial requirements for representative payees, and we have made minor clarifying plain language changes. The SSPA also allows us 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 payments under title XVI (including State supplementary payments).
Program: Cooperative Agreements for Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Projects; Program Announcement No. SSA-OESP-07-1
The Social Security Administration (SSA) announces its intention to competitively award cooperative agreements to establish community-based work incentives planning and assistance projects in the following locations: State of Alabama, the counties of Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Dallas, Elmore, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Pike, Russell, Washington, and Wilcox; State of Indiana, the counties of Clark, Crawford, Daviess, Dearborn, Dubois, Floyd, Gibson, Greene, Harrison, Hendricks, Jackson, Jefferson, Jennings, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Ohio, Orange, Parke, Perry, Pike, Posey, Ripley, Scott, Spencer, Sullivan, Switzerland, Vanderburgh, Vermillion, Vigo, Warrick, Washington; State of Kentucky, the counties of Bath, Bell, Bourbon, Boyd, Bracken, Breathitt, Carter, Clark, Clay, Elliott, Estill, Fleming, Floyd, Garrard, Greenup, Harlan, Harrison, Jackson, Johnson, Knott, Knox, Laurel, Lawrence, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Madison, Magoffin, Martin, Mason, McCreary, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Owsley, Pendleton, Perry, Pike, Powell, Robertson, Rockcastle, Rowan, Whitley, and Wolfe; State of Nevada, all counties; State of New York, the counties of Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Ulster, and Westchester; State of Ohio, the counties of Ashtabula, Mahoning, Portage, Stark, Summit, and Trumbull; and Pacific territories of Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa. The purpose of these projects is to disseminate accurate information about work incentives programs and issues related to such programs to beneficiaries with disabilities (including transition-to- work aged youth). This will help enable them to make informed choices about working, how available work incentives can facilitate their transition into the workforce, and whether and when to assign their Ticket to Work. The ultimate goal of the work incentives planning and assistance projects is to assist SSA beneficiaries with disabilities succeed in their return to work efforts.
Continuing Disability Review Failure To Cooperate Process
We are amending our regulations to provide that we will suspend your disability benefits before we make a determination during a continuing disability review (CDR) under title II and title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act) when you fail to comply with our request for necessary information. Should you remain non-compliant for a period of one year following your suspension, we will then terminate your disability benefits. Although our current title XVI regulations generally provide for the termination of payments after 12 months of suspension, we are amending our regulations by adding this policy to our title II regulations and by restating it in the title XVI CDR regulatory provisions.
Registration Requirements for Representatives to Receive Direct Payment of Fees Approved for Services Provided Before the Social Security Administration or a Federal Court and Forms 1099-MISC
We are issuing this notice to advise attorneys and non- attorneys who represent claimants before SSA, and attorneys who represent Social Security or Supplemental Security Income claimants before the Federal courts, that the requirements a representative must meet for SSA to pay the approved fee, or a part of the approved fee, directly to the representative from a claimant's past-due benefits will change effective January 1, 2007. Currently, SSA pays all or part of the fee we approve to the claimant's representative from his or her past-due benefits if the representative is an attorney or a non- attorney participant in SSA's direct fee payment demonstration project. SSA also pays all or part of the fee a Federal court approves directly to an attorney from a claimant's past-due benefits. SSA must expand the information a representative is required to submit to SSA in order for SSA to pay a fee directly because sections 6041(a) and 6045(f) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), as implemented by 26 CFR 1.6041-1, require SSA to issue a Form 1099-MISC to each representative who receives, by direct payment from SSA, aggregate fees of $600 or more in a calendar year. To meet this requirement, a person whom a claimant appoints to represent him or her before SSA after December 31, 2006, who is otherwise eligible for direct fee payment, and an attorney for whom a Federal court approves a fee on or after January 1, 2007, must provide SSA with his or her Social Security Number (SSN) as a prerequisite for SSA to pay a fee directly to the representative.
Modifications to the Disability Determination Procedures; Extension of Testing of Some Disability Redesign Features
We are announcing the extension of tests involving modifications to our disability determination procedures that we are conducting under the authority of current rules codified at 20 CFR 404.906 and 416.1406. These rules provide authority to test several modifications to the disability determination procedures that we normally follow in adjudicating claims for disability insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act) and for supplemental security income payments based on disability under title XVI of the Act. We have decided to extend testing of the two redesign features of the disability prototype for up to 3 years in the following disability determination services (DDSs): New York, Pennsylvania, Alabama, Michigan, Louisiana, Missouri, Colorado, California (Los Angeles North and West Branches), and Alaska. We are not extending testing of these features in the New Hampshire DDS due to the publication of the final rule changes to 20 CFR 404.1527(f)(1) and 20 CFR 405.201 that take effect August 1, 2006. These rule changes are initially only in effect in the Boston Region.
Social Security Number (SSN) Cards; Limiting Replacement Cards
The interim final rules published at 70 FR 74649, on December 16, 2005, are adopted as final with only minor changes. These regulations reflect and implement amendments to the Social Security Act (the Act) made by part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), Public Law (Pub. L.) 108-458. Section 7213(a)(1)(A) of Pub. L. 108-458 requires that we limit individuals to three replacement SSN cards per year and ten replacement SSN cards during a lifetime. The provision permits us to allow for reasonable exceptions from these limits on a case-by-case basis in compelling circumstances. This provision also helps us to further strengthen the security and integrity of the SSN issuance process.
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 Attorney and Eligible Direct Pay Non- Attorney (EDPNA) 1099-MISC File, hereinafter referred to as the Attorney/EDPNA 1099-MISC File system of records, and routine uses applicable to the system of records. We are also issuing notice that we may disclose personally identifiable information from the Attorney/ EDPNA 1099-MISC File to consumer reporting agencies in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(12) and 31 U.S.C. 3711(e). Further, we give notice that we will disclose the taxpayer identification numbers (TIN)/Social Security numbers (SSN) and other information maintained in this file to employers for the purpose of reporting and collecting delinquent debts that may arise out of representational fee payments made to representatives. See 31 U.S.C. 7701(c)(3). We invite public comment on this proposal.
Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income; Collection of Overdue Program and Administrative Debts Using Federal Salary Offset
The proposed rules published in the Federal Register on March 13, 2006 at 71 FR 12648, are adopted as final with no changes. These regulations modify our regulations dealing with the recovery of benefit overpayments under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), as well as recovery of administrative debts owed to us. Specifically, we are modifying our regulations to implement statutory authority for the use of Federal Salary Offset (FSO). FSO is a process whereby the salary-paying agency withholds and pays to us up to 15 percent of the debtor's disposable pay until the debt has been repaid. In the case of title II program overpayment debts, we would apply FSO to collect only overpayments made to a person after he or she attained age 18, and we would pursue FSO after that person ceases to be a beneficiary and we determine that the overpayment is otherwise unrecoverable under section 204 of the Act. In the case of title XVI program overpayment debts, these same restrictions apply, but we must determine the overpayment to be otherwise unrecoverable under section 1631(b) of the Act, rather than section 204 of the Act. FSO is only applicable if the debtor is a Federal employee.
Title II: Adjudicating Child Relationship Under Section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act When Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Test Shows Sibling Relationship Between Claimant and a Child of the Worker Who Is Entitled Under Section 216(h)(3) of the Social Security Act on the Worker's Earnings Record
In accordance with 20 CFR 402.35(b)(1), the Commissioner of Social Security gives notice of Social Security Ruling, SSR 06-02p. To be entitled to child's insurance benefits on the earnings record of a worker under section 202(d) of the Social Security Act (The Act), a claimant must prove, among other things, that he or she is the worker's child. There are several ways a child can do this. As is pertinent to this Ruling, three of the ways are meeting either the State law definition of child under section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act or one of the two federal law definitions of child under section 216(h)(3) of the Act. This Ruling provides that if the results of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing show a high probability that an entitled child is the sibling of a child claimant who is filing under the State law definition and we have already determined that the entitled child is the worker's natural child under one of the two federal law definitions in section 216(h)(3), we will rely on the 216(h)(3) determination when we determine whether the child claimant is the worker's child in accordance with section 216(h)(2)(A) of the Act. Under these circumstances, we will not determine whether the child who is entitled under one of the federal law definitions in section 216(h)(3) also meets the definition of child under State law.