Compassionate Allowances for Brain Injuries; Office of the Commissioner, Hearing
We are considering ways to quickly identify diseases and other serious medical conditions that obviously meet the definition of disability under the Social Security Act (Act) and can be identified with minimal objective medical information. We are calling this method ``Compassionate Allowances.'' In December 2007 and April 2008, we held two Compassionate Allowance public hearings. These hearings concerned rare diseases and cancers, respectively. This hearing is the third in the series. The purpose of this hearing is to obtain your views about the advisability and possible methods of identifying and implementing compassionate allowances for children and adults with brain injuries. We plan to address other medical conditions at subsequent hearings.
Setting the Time and Place for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
We propose to amend our rules to clarify that the agency is responsible for setting the time and place for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Consistent with our regulations at lower levels of the administrative process, we propose to use ``we'' or ``us'' in the rules setting the time and place for a hearing. These changes will ensure greater flexibility in scheduling hearings both in person and via video teleconferencing and will aid us in our effort to increase efficiency in the hearing process and reduce the number of pending hearings. The number of cases awaiting a hearing has reached historic proportions, and efforts toward greater efficiency are critical to addressing this problem.
Representative Payment Under Titles II, VIII and XVI of the Social Security Act
We are amending our rules governing how we investigate representative payee applicants. Under these rules, any payee who previously satisfied the payee investigation criteria, including a face-to-face interview, and currently serves as a payee generally need not appear for another face-to-face interview when subsequently applying to become a payee unless we determine within our discretion, that a new face-to-face interview is necessary. The payee applicant would still be required to satisfy the rest of the investigation process as set forth in the regulations. Reducing the number of subsequent face-to-face interviews of payee applicants will streamline our representative payee application process, allowing payee applicants to become qualified more quickly when they already serve as a payee. This rule also will expedite payment of benefits in certain representative payee situations and reduce the burden on our field office employees by eliminating the necessity of interviewing such payee applicants.
Technical Revisions to Overpayment Rules
These rules amend our title II regulations to explicitly provide that we apply an underpayment due an individual to reduce an overpayment to that individual in certain cases. Our title XVI regulations already state this policy. Additionally, these rules reflect our procedures for collecting overpayments when a payment of more than the correct amount is made to a representative payee on behalf of a beneficiary after the beneficiary's death. These rules clarify that we collect overpayments in this situation from only the representative payee or his estate but not from the representative payee's spouse or from the spouse's estate.