Amendments to Regulations Regarding Major Life-Changing Events Affecting Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts to Medicare Part B Premiums
We are modifying our regulations to clarify and revise what we consider major life-changing events for the Medicare Part B income- related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA) and what evidence we require to support a claim of a major life-changing event. Recent changes in the economy and other unforeseen events have had a significant effect on many Medicare Part B beneficiaries. The changes we are making in this interim final rule will allow us to respond appropriately to circumstances brought about by the current economic climate and other unforeseen events, as described below.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Proposed System of Records and 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 system of records and routine use disclosures. The system of records is the Economic Recovery List (ERL) Database (60-0372), hereinafter referred to as the ERL Database. We will use information covered by the system of records to:
Setting the Time and Place for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
We are amending our rules to state that our agency is responsible for setting the time and place for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This change creates a 3-year pilot program that will allow us to test this new authority. Our use of this authority, consistent with due process rights of claimants, may provide us with greater flexibility in scheduling both in-person and video hearings, lead to improved efficiency in our hearing process, and reduce the number of pending hearing requests. This change is a part of our broader commitment to maintaining a hearing process that results in accurate, high-quality decisions for claimants.
Extension of Expiration Dates for Several Body System Listings
We are extending the expiration dates of the following body systems in the Listing of Impairments (listings) in our regulations: Cardiovascular System, Endocrine System, Growth Impairment, Hematological Disorders, Musculoskeletal System, Mental Disorders, Neurological, and Respiratory System. We are making no other revisions to these body system listings. This extension will ensure that we continue to have in the listings the criteria we need to evaluate impairments in the affected body systems at the appropriate steps of the sequential evaluation processes for initial claims and continuing disability reviews.
Technical Amendment Language Change From “Wholly” to “Fully”
These final rules amend our regulations to replace the word ``wholly'' with the word ``fully'' when we describe the favorable or unfavorable nature of determinations or decisions we make on claims for benefits. This change does not alter the substance of the regulations or have any effect on the rights of claimants or any other parties.
Consultative Examination-Annual Onsite Review of Medical Providers
We are revising the threshold billing amount that triggers annual on-site reviews of medical providers who conduct consultative examinations (CEs) for our disability programs under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). The revision will raise the threshold amount to reflect the increase in billing amounts since we first established the threshold amount in 1991. We expect the revised threshold amount will reestablish the level of oversight activity we required under our original rules.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Office of Personnel Management (OPM))-Match #1307
In accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, as amended, this notice announces a renewal of an existing computer matching program that we are currently conducting with OPM.
Social Security Administration Implementation of OMB Guidance for Drug-Free Workplace Requirements
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is consolidating all Federal regulations concerning drug-free workplace requirements for recipients of financial assistance. Accordingly, we are removing our regulation on this subject currently located within title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and issuing a new regulation to adopt the OMB guidance at 2 CFR part 182. The new regulation makes no substantive change to our policy or procedures for a drug-free workplace.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Hearing Loss
We are revising the criteria in the Listing of Impairments (the listings) that we use to evaluate claims involving hearing loss under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). The revisions reflect our adjudicative experience, advances in medical knowledge, treatment, and methods of evaluating hearing loss, and public comments we received in response to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).
Privacy Act of 1974; as Amended; Proposed Alteration to an Existing Privacy Act System of Records, Housekeeping Changes, and New Routine Uses
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, make housekeeping and other miscellaneous changes, and add routine uses applicable to our system of records entitled the Representative Disqualification/Suspension Information System (60-0219), hereinafter referred to as the Representative Disqualification, Suspension, and Non-Recognition Information File.
Occupational Information System
We are requesting comments on the recommendations submitted to us by the Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel (Panel) in its report entitled ``Content Model and Classification Recommendations for the Social Security Administration Occupational Information System, September 2009.'' The complete Panel report (including appendices) is available online at: http:// www.socialsecurity.gov/oidap/Documents/FinalReportRecommendat ions.pdf.
Garnishment of Accounts Containing Federal Benefit Payments
Treasury, SSA, VA, RRB and OPM (Agencies) are publishing for comment a proposed rule to implement statutory restrictions on the garnishment of Federal benefit payments. The Agencies are taking this action in response to recent developments in technology and debt collection practices that have led to an increase in the freezing of accounts containing Federal benefit payments. The proposed rule would establish procedures that financial institutions must follow when a garnishment order is received for an account into which Federal benefit payments have been directly deposited. The proposed rule would require financial institutions that receive a garnishment order for an account to determine whether any Federal benefit payments were deposited to the account within 60 calendar days prior to receipt of the order and, if so, would require the financial institution to ensure that the account holder has access to an amount equal to the sum of such payments in the account or to the current balance of the account, whichever is lower.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Internal Revenue Service (IRS))-Match #1305
In accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, as amended, this notice announces a renewal of an existing computer matching program that we are currently conducting with the IRS.
Notice Announcing Addresses for Service of Process
The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) is responsible for processing and handling summonses and complaints in lawsuits involving judicial review of our final decisions on individual claims for benefits under titles II, VIII, and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). Summonses and complaints in these cases should be mailed directly to the OGC location responsible for the jurisdiction in which
Disability Determinations by State Agency Disability Examiners
We propose to amend our rules to permit disability examiners in the State agencies to make fully favorable determinations in certain claims for disability benefits under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act) without the approval of a medical or psychological consultant. The proposed changes would apply on a temporary basis only to claims we consider under our rules for Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) or under our compassionate allowance initiative.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Proposed System of Records and 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 and routine uses applicable to this system of records entitled, the Administrative Law Judge/Public Alleged Misconduct Complaints System, 60-0356 (the ALJ/PAMC system of records). We will use the information covered by the system of records to manage and monitor complaints filed against Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). We discuss the system of records and routine use disclosures in the Supplementary Information section below. We invite public comments on this proposal.
Exclusion of Certain Military Pay From Deemed Income and Resources
We are revising our rules to clarify that, for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) purposes, we do not consider any combat-related military pay as income when we determine whether spouses and children of members of the uniformed services are eligible for SSI. The rules also clarify that we do not consider combat-related military pay as income when we determine the spouse's or child's proper payment amount. These rules also provide that, when we determine whether spouses and children are eligible for SSI, we do not consider retroactive payments of certain military pay as resources for 9 months following receipt. These final rules protect spouses and children of members of the uniformed services from a reduction in, or loss of, benefits because their spouse or parent serves in a combat zone.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of Veterans Affairs/Veterans Benefits Administration (VA/VBA))-Match Number 1309
In accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act, as amended, this notice announces a renewal of an existing computer matching program that we are currently conducting with VA/VBA.
Transfer of Accumulated Benefit Payments
We are revising our regulations to allow a representative payee who will no longer be serving in that capacity to transfer accumulated benefit payments and interest directly to a beneficiary if we determine that it would be in the best interest of the beneficiary. This change will give us more flexibility in deciding how conserved funds should be handled in these circumstances. The change will also reduce or eliminate delays in the delivery of conserved funds to some beneficiaries.
Drug Addiction and Alcoholism
We are requesting your comments about our operating procedures for determining disability for persons whose drug addiction or alcoholism (DAA) may be a contributing factor material to our determination of disability.
Technical Revisions to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Regulations on Income and Resources
We are amending 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 (CAA), the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA), an amendment to the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (NFIA), the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA), and the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (SSPA). We are also amending our SSI rules to extend the home exclusion to beneficiaries who, because of domestic abuse, leave a home that had otherwise been an excludable resource. Finally, we are updating our ``conditional- payment'' rule to eliminate the liquid-resource requirement as a prerequisite to receiving conditional-benefit payments.
Rate of Payment for Medical Records Received Through Health Information Technology (IT) Necessary To Make Disability Determinations
We have set $15 as the reasonable reimbursement to non-Federal medical providers for their costs in supplying medical records through health IT in response to a request. We will pay the uniform national rate to a medical provider that satisfies a medical records request through health IT. We are establishing this uniform national rate under our authority in sections 205(a), 223(d)(5)(A) and 1631(e) of the Social Security Act (Act).