Agreement on Social Security Between the United States and the Czech Republic; Entry Into Force
On January 1, 2009, an agreement coordinating the United States (U.S.) and the Czech Republic social security programs will enter into force. The agreement with the Czech Republic, which was signed on September 7, 2007, is similar to U.S. social security agreements already in force with 22 other countries. This agreement is authorized by section 233 of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. 433. The U.S.-Czech agreement eliminates dual social security coverage a 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. Without such agreements in force, 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.-Czech 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 Czech 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 Czech benefits based on combined (totalized) work credits from both countries. If you want copies of the agreement or want more information about its provisions you 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.
Rate for Assessment on Direct Payment Fees to Representatives in 2009
We are announcing that the assessment percentage rate under sections 206(d) and 1631(d)(2)(C) of the Social Security Act (the Act), 42 U.S.C. 406 (d), and 1383(d)(2)(C) is 6.3 percent for 2009.
Establishment of the Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel
We are establishing the Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel (Panel) under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The creation of the Panel, while discretionary, is necessary and in the public interest. It will help us to perform our statutory duties. We have consulted with the Committee Management Secretariat, General Services Administration.
Clarification of Evidentiary Standard for Determinations and Decisions
We are amending our rules to clarify that we apply the preponderance of the evidence standard when we make determinations and decisions at all levels of our administrative review process. These rules do not change our policy that the Appeals Council applies the substantial evidence standard when it reviews a decision by an administrative law judge (ALJ) to determine whether to grant a request for review. We are also adding definitions of the terms ``substantial evidence'' and ``preponderance of the evidence'' for use in applying these rules.
Use of Date of Written Statement as Filing Date
We propose to revise our rules for protective filing after we receive a written statement of intent to claim Social Security benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act). Specifically, we propose to revise from 6 months to 60 days the time period during which you must file an application for benefits after the date of a notice we send explaining the need to file an application. We are proposing this revision to make the time period used in the title II program consistent with the time period used in other programs we administer under the Act. We believe that eliminating the difference between the time periods in the programs we administer would make it easier for the public to understand and follow our rules.
Social Security Disability Program Demonstration Project: Benefit Offset Pilot Demonstration
We are announcing our plans to terminate the Benefit Offset Pilot Demonstration (BOPD) project, which relates to the disability program under title II of the Social Security Act (the Act). In this demonstration, we are testing modifications to current program rules that apply to working title II disability beneficiaries. We are also modifying current rules for making outcome payments to providers of services under the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency program (Ticket to Work program).
Technical Revisions to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Regulations on Income and Resources
We propose to amend our Supplemental Security Income (SSI) regulations by making technical revisions to our rules on income and resources. Many of these revisions reflect legislative changes found in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2001, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), an amendment to the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, and the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA). We further propose to amend the SSI home exclusion rules to extend the home exclusion to individuals who, because of domestic abuse, leave a home that would otherwise be an excludable resource. Finally, we propose to update our ``conditional- payment'' rule to eliminate the liquid resource requirement as a prerequisite to receiving conditional payments.