Privacy and Disclosure of Official Records and Information
We propose to amend our privacy and disclosure rules to help preserve the anonymity of, and help protect the physical well-being of, SSA employees who reasonably believe that they are at risk of injury or other harm if certain employment information about them is disclosed. These changes in the regulations would ensure uniform application of the policy for at-risk employees.
Titles II and XVI: Evaluating Cases Involving Tremolite Asbestos-Related Impairments
In accordance with 20 CFR 402.35(b)(1), the Commissioner of Social Security gives notice of Social Security Ruling, SSR 06-01p. This Ruling provides guidance on the types of impairments that may result from tremolite asbestos and how to evaluate disability claims under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act based on these impairments.
Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD)-Match Number 1038
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 BPD.
Civil Monetary Penalties, Assessments and Recommended Exclusions
These final rules reflect provisions of Public Law 106-169, the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, and Public Law 108-203, the Social Security Protection Act of 2004, to provide new and amended procedures for SSA's civil monetary penalty cases filed pursuant to sections 1129 and 1140 of the Social Security Act . These final rules implement amendments to section 1129 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320a-8) to provide for the imposition of civil monetary penalties and/or assessments: against representative payees who convert Social Security benefits for a use other than for the use or benefit of the beneficiary; against those who withhold disclosure of material statements to SSA; and, against those who make false or misleading statements or representations or omissions of a material fact with respect to benefits or payments under title VIII of the Social Security Act. These final rules also implement amendments to section 1140 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320b-10) to: Add to the list of enumerated terms that may give rise to a violation of section 1140; and, provide for the imposition of civil monetary penalties against those who charge fees for products or services, otherwise provided free of charge by SSA, unless the offers provide sufficient notice that the product or service can be obtained free of charge from SSA.
Rules for Helping Blind and Disabled Individuals Achieve Self-Support
We are amending our regulations to implement section 203 of the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994. Section 203 of this law amended section 1633 of the Social Security Act to require us to establish by regulations criteria for time limits and other criteria related to plans to achieve self-support (PASS). The law requires that we establish criteria for a PASS and that when we set time limits for your PASS, we take into account the length of time that you need to achieve your employment goal, within a reasonable period. A PASS allows some persons who receive or are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits to set aside part of their income and/or resources to meet an employment goal. The income and/or resources you set aside under a PASS will not be counted in determining the amount of your SSI payment or eligibility.
Program: Cooperative Agreements for Work Incentives Planning and Assistance Projects; Program Announcement No. SSA-OESP-06-1
The Social Security Administration (SSA) announces its intention to competitively award cooperative agreements to establish community-based work incentives planning and assistance projects in every State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. (Throughout this announcement, the term ``'State''' will be used to refer to all U.S. States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.) The purpose of these projects is to disseminate accurate information to beneficiaries with disabilities (including transition- to-work aged youth) about work incentives programs and issues related to such programs, to enable them to make informed choices about working and whether or when to assign their Ticket to Work, as well as how available work incentives can facilitate their transition into the workforce. 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.
Extension of the Expiration Date for the Digestive Listings
We use the Listing of Impairments (the listings) in appendix 1 to subpart P of this part, 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). This final rule extends until July 2, 2007, the date on which the listings for the digestive system will no longer be effective. Other than extending the date during which the digestive listings will be effective, 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 medical evaluation criteria in the listings to adjudicate disability claims in this body system at the third step of the sequential evaluation process.
Filing of Applications and Requirements for Widow's and Widower's Benefits
We are revising one of our regulations to clarify that we will protect a title II claimant's filing date as of the date the claimant or other proper applicant on the claimant's behalf completes and transmits to the Social Security Administration (SSA) the Personal Information Identification data on the Internet Social Security Benefit Application (ISBA). This revision addresses an aspect of implementing the ISBA to provide certain rights to Internet filers that we afford to other filers. In addition, we are correcting one word in a different title II regulation. The revision is necessary to correctly reflect the circumstances under which a claimant for widow's or widower's benefits as the insured person's surviving divorced spouse would be considered ``unmarried.''
Administrative Review Process for Adjudicating Initial Disability Claims; Correction
The Social Security Administration is correcting a final rule that appeared in the Federal Register on March 31, 2006 (71 FR 16424). The document amends our administrative review process for applications for benefits that are based on whether you are disabled under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), or applications for supplemental security income (SSI) payments that are based on whether you are disabled or blind under title XVI of the Act.
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 Representative Payee and Beneficiary Survey Data System, 60-0370, and routine uses applicable to this system of records. Hereinafter, we will refer to the proposed system of records as the RPBSD system. We invite public comment on this proposal.
Administrative Review Process for Adjudicating Initial Disability Claims
The Social Security Administration is committed to providing the high quality of service the American people expect and deserve. In light of the significant growth in the number of disability claims and the increased complexity of those claims, the need to make substantial changes in our disability determination process has become urgent. We are publishing a final rule that amends our administrative review process for applications for benefits that are based on whether you are disabled under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act), or applications for supplemental security income (SSI) payments that are based on whether you are disabled or blind under title XVI of the Act. We expect that this final rule will improve the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of decision-making throughout the disability determination process.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Match Number 1076)
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 CMS.
Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of the Treasury, Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD))-Match 1304
In accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, as amended, this notice announces an amendment to the computer matching program that SSA conducts with BPD.
Federal Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income; Collection of Overdue Program and Administrative Debts Using Federal Salary Offset
We propose to 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 propose to modify 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.
Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount
We propose to add to our regulations a new subpart, Medicare Part B Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount, to contain the rules we would 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 Trust Fund. This new subpart would implement section 811 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (the Medicare Modernization Act or MMA) and would contain the rules for determining when, based on income, a monthly adjustment amount will be added to a Supplementary Medical Insurance (Medicare Part B) beneficiary's standard monthly premium. These proposed rules describe: what the new subpart is about; what information we would use to determine whether you would 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.
Privacy Act of 1974 as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Railroad Retirement Board (RRB))-Match Number 1006
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 the RRB.
Optometrists as Acceptable Medical Sources to Establish a Medically Determinable Impairment
We propose to revise the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability regulations regarding sources of evidence for establishing a medically determinable impairment under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). The revised regulations would expand the situations in which we consider licensed optometrists to be ``acceptable medical sources''.
Rescission of Social Security Acquiescence Ruling 00-2(7)
In accordance with 20 CFR 402.35(b)(2), 404.985(e), and 416.1485(e), the Commissioner of Social Security gives notice of the rescission of Social Security AR 00-2(7).
Evidentiary Requirements for Making Findings About Medical Equivalence
We are revising our regulations that pertain to the processing of claims for disability benefits under title II and title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). These revisions make the language in the rules we use under title II of the Act for making findings about medical equivalence consistent with the language in the rules that we use under title XVI of the Act. These revisions also clarify our rules about the evidence we use when we make findings about medical equivalence for adults and children. We are also updating and clarifying our rules that explain the Listing of Impairments (the listings) and how your impairment(s) can meet a listing.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Altered System 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 an existing system of records, the Master Representative Payee File, 60-0222. The proposed alterations will result in an expansion of the existing categories of records maintained in the Master Representative Payee File to include: (1) Information about representative payee applicants who have been convicted of an offense resulting in more than one (1) year imprisonment; (2) Information about representative payee applicants or payees who have an outstanding felony warrant; and (3) Information about specific types of organizations which, having met certain requirements, may apply and be permitted to charge a fee for their payee services. 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/Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-Match Number 1016)
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 the IRS.
Agreement on Social Security Between the United States and Japan; Entry Into Force
The Commissioner of Social Security gives notice that an agreement coordinating the United States (U.S.) and Japanese social security programs entered into force on October 1, 2005. The agreement with Japan, which was signed on February 19, 2004, is similar to U.S. social security agreements already in force with 20 other countries Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Korea (South), Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Agreements of this type are authorized by section 233 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 433). Like the other agreements, the U.S.-Japanese agreement eliminates dual social security coveragethe situation that exists when a worker from one country works in the other country and is covered under the social security systems of both countries for the same work. When dual coverage occurs, the worker or the worker's employer or both may be required to pay social security contributions to the two countries simultaneously. Under the U.S.-Japanese agreement, a worker who is sent by an employer in one country to work in the other country for 5 years or less remains covered only by the sending country. The agreement includes additional rules that eliminate dual U.S. and Japanese coverage in other work situations. The agreement also helps eliminate situations where workers suffer a loss of benefit rights because they have divided their careers between the two countries. Under the agreement, workers may qualify for partial U.S. benefits or partial Japanese benefits based on combined (totalized) work credits from both countries. Individuals who wish to obtain copies of the agreement or want more information about its provisions may write to the Social Security Administration, Office of International Programs, Post Office Box 17741, Baltimore, MD 21235-7741 or visit the Social Security Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international.
Work Activity of Persons Working as Members of Advisory Committees Established Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)
We are revising our disability regulations under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act to establish a new, special rule that affects individuals who are receiving payments or providing services as members or consultants of a committee, board, commission, council or similar group established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). Under this special rule, we will not count any earnings an individual is receiving from serving as a member or consultant of a FACA advisory committee when we determine if the individual is engaging in substantial gainful activity under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). In addition, we will not evaluate any of the services the individual is providing as a member or consultant of the FACA advisory committee when determining if the individual has engaged in substantial gainful activity under titles II and XVI of the Act. Based on our experience with FACA advisory committees and the frequency and level of activity required by these committees, we believe that performance of activity on these committees does not demonstrate the ability to perform substantial gainful activity. We believe this to be consistent with Congress's view, as it has recognized in creating the Ticket to Work advisory committee, for example, that current disability beneficiaries should be considered for membership. This also will encourage individuals with disabilities to serve on FACA advisory committees, thereby providing the benefit of their unique perspective on policies and programs to the Federal Government.
Representation of Parties; Recognition, Disqualification, and Reinstatement of Representative
We are revising our regulations to identify additional bases upon which we may bring charges to disqualify an individual from acting as a representative before the Social Security Administration (SSA), and to set forth the conditions under which we will reinstate an individual whom we have disqualified as a representative because the individual collected or received, and retains, a fee in excess of the amount we authorized. These final rules revise our regulations on the representation of parties to implement section 205 of the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA) and to make additional changes in these regulations that relate to the changes required by this legislation. The rules also make technical changes in our regulations on the representation of parties.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Cardiovascular Impairments
We are revising the criteria in the Listing of Impairments (the listings) that we use to evaluate claims involving cardiovascular impairments. We apply these criteria when you claim benefits based on disability under title II and title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). The revisions reflect advances in medical knowledge, treatment, and methods of evaluating cardiovascular impairments.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; New and Revised Privacy Act Systems of Records and Deletion of Obsolete Systems of Records
In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4) and (e)(11), we are issuing public notice of our intent to: (a) Establish new and altered systems of records, (b) Establish new routine use disclosures, (c) Delete obsolete systems of records, and (d) Make general housekeeping and editorial changes to SSA systems of records. We invite public comment on these proposals.