Extension of the Expiration Date for State Disability Examiner Authority To Make Fully Favorable Quick Disability Determinations and Compassionate Allowances
We are extending the expiration date of our rule that authorizes State agency disability examiners to make fully favorable determinations without the approval of a State agency medical or psychological consultant in claims that we consider under our quick disability determination (QDD) and compassionate allowance (CAL) processes. The current rule will expire on November 14, 2014. In this final rule, we are changing the November 14, 2014 expiration or ``sunset'' date to November 13, 2015, extending the authority for 1 year. We are making no other substantive changes.
Supplementary Agreement on Social Security Between the United States and the Swiss Confederation; Entry Into Force
We are giving notice that on August 1, 2014, a new agreement will enter into force that replaces the original U.S.-Swiss Social Security agreement that has been in effect since November 1, 1980. The new agreement, which was signed on December 3, 2012, was concluded pursuant to section 233 of the Social Security Act. The new agreement updates and clarifies several provisions in the original U.S.-Swiss Social Security agreement. The primary purpose, however, is to correct an anomalous situation, caused by a change in Swiss law, in which the original agreement allowed U.S. nationals to receive certain disability benefits from Switzerland on more favorable terms than Swiss nationals. Additionally, the new agreement provides that under certain conditions less restrictive than those of the original agreement. U.S. nationals may qualify for Swiss flat-rate, needs-based benefits. The new agreement also introduces new and enhanced provisions for the protection and integrity of personal data transmitted under the agreement. Individuals who wish to obtain copies of the new agreement or want general information about its provisions may write to the Social Security Administration, Office of International Programs, Post Office Box 17741, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7741. The Social Security Web site at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/international also includes the text of the new agreement. Anyone who wants information about the Swiss Social Security programs may write to the Swiss Compensation Office, 18 Avenue Ed. Vaucher, CH-1211 Geneva 28, Switzerland.
Extension of Expiration Date for Temporary Pilot Program Setting the Time and Place for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge; Correction
The Social Security Administration published a final rule document in the Federal Register on July 18, 2014 (79 FR 41881), extending the expiration date for the Temporary Pilot Program Setting the Time and Place for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge. That document inadvertently had a timing issue with Sec. 405.315(e) not being codified by the July 18, 2014 publication. Section 405.315(e) was codified on July 25, 2014. This document corrects the final regulation by revising the now codified Sec. 405.315(e).
Extension of Expiration Date for Temporary Pilot Program Setting the Time and Place for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge
We are extending for one year our pilot program that authorizes the agency to set the time and place for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). Extending the pilot program continues our commitment to improve the efficiency of our hearing process and provide accurate, high-quality decisions for claimants. The current pilot program will expire on August 9, 2014. In this final rule, we are extending the expiration date to August 10, 2015. We are making no other substantive changes.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/the States)-Match 6000 and 6003
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 States.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS))-Match Number 1094
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 CMS.
Modifications to the Disability Determination Procedures; Extension of Testing of Some Disability Redesign Features
We are announcing the extension of tests involving modifications to disability determination procedures authorized by 20 CFR 404.906 and 416.1406. These rules authorize us to test several modifications to the disability determination procedures for adjudicating claims for disability insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (Act) and for supplemental security income payments based on disability under title XVI of the Act.
Electronic Substitutions for SSA-538
This final rule adopts, without change, the final rule with request for comments we published in the Federal Register (76 FR 41685) on July 15, 2011. We are revising our regulations to reflect our use of electronic case processing at the initial and reconsideration levels of our administrative review process. We are not changing the requirement that State agency medical and psychological consultants must affirm the accuracy and completeness of their findings of fact and discussion of the supporting evidence, only the manner in which they may provide the required findings and affirmation. This revision will improve our efficiency by increasing our use of electronic resources.
Changes to Scheduling and Appearing at Hearings
These final rules explain how a claimant may object to appearing at a hearing via video teleconferencing, or to the time and place of a hearing. These final rules adopt, with further clarification regarding our good cause exception, the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that we published in the Federal Register on June 27, 2013. We expect that these final rules will have a minimal impact on the public, help ensure the integrity of our programs, and allow us to administer our programs more efficiently.
Agreement on Social Security Between the United States and the Slovak Republic; Entry Into Force
We are giving notice that an agreement coordinating the United States (U.S.) and the Slovak social security programs entered into force on May 1, 2014. The agreement with the Slovak Republic, which was signed on December 10, 2012, is similar to U.S. social security agreements already in force with 24 other countriesAustralia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea (South), Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Section 233 of the Social Security Act authorizes agreements of this type. 42 U.S.C. 433.
Privacy Act of 1974; Proposed New System of Records
In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a) we are issuing public notice of our intent to establish a new system of records entitled, Requests for Accommodation from Members of the Public (60-0378), hereinafter referred to as the RAMP system. We are establishing the RAMP system to cover information we receive from members of the public with disabilities who request accommodations in order to gain meaningful access to our programs. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. 794) provides that no otherwise qualified individual with a disability will, solely by reason of his or her disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency. Section 504 protects ``qualified individuals with disabilities,'' as defined in 45 CFR part 85, as ``persons with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.'' Agencies are required to take appropriate steps to ensure that qualified individuals with a disability are not denied access to the programs and activities the agency conducts because of their disabilities. To ensure compliance with Section 504, the agency may need to provide auxiliary aids or services or modifications to the way it conducts its programs. We will provide accommodations based on five broad categories of impairments: Blind or visual; cognitive or learning; deaf or hard of hearing; mobility or physical; and psychological or emotional. However, individuals who have other types of disabilities may also request an accommodation. We will use the information we collect to provide accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities, to provide management information to the agency, and for research and statistical purposes.
Technical Corrections to Regulations
We are making technical corrections to several of our regulations. In some cases, we are correcting outdated cross-references in light of revisions we made to other rules. We are also revising the maximum dollar amount of overpayments subject to compromise based on other changes in the law, and we are adjusting the formula we use to calculate the maximum benefits payable in the first and second installment payments of large past-due benefits for the same reason. In addition, we are updating references to the coverage status of affected non-temporary employees of the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. These changes do not alter the substance of the regulations or effect the rights of claimants or any other parties. We expect that the changes will make our rules more internally consistent and make them easier to use.
Obtaining Evidence Beyond the Current “Special Arrangement Sources”
We are amending our regulations to state that we will obtain evidence from any appropriate source. Our current regulations provide that we will obtain information from ``special arrangement sources'' for those infrequent situations when we are in a better position than our State agency partners to obtain evidence. Due to improved evidence collection through our increased use of health information technology (health IT), we are obtaining evidence electronically with increasing frequency. We expect that, over time, the electronic exchange of medical records will become our primary means for obtaining medical evidence. As we increase our use of health IT, the designation of ``special arrangement sources'' will no longer adequately describe from whom we collect evidence.
Social Security Ruling, SSR 14-3p; Titles II and XVI: Evaluating Endocrine Disorders Other Than Diabetes Mellitus
We are giving notice of SSR 14-3p. This SSR provides information about specific endocrine disorders other than diabetes mellitus (DM), and explains the types of impairments and limitations that result from those disorders. It also provides guidance on how we evaluate endocrine disorders in disability claims under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Social Security Ruling, SSR 14-2p; Titles II and XVI: Evaluating Diabetes Mellitus
We are giving notice of SSR 14-2p. This SSR provides information about the types of impairments and limitations that result from diabetes mellitus (DM). It also provides guidance on how we evaluate DM in disability claims under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Consent Based Social Security Number Verification (CBSV) Service
We provide fee-based Social Security number (SSN) verification service to enrolled private businesses and government agencies who obtain a valid, signed consent form from the Social Security number holder. We originally published a notice announcing the CBSV service in the Federal Register on August 10, 2007. Based on the consent forms, we verify the number holders' SSNs for the requesting party. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a(b)), section 1106 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1306) and our regulation at 20 CFR 401.100, establish the legal authority for us to provide SSN verifications to third party requesters based on consent. The CBSV process provides the business community and other government entities with consent-based SSN verifications in high volume. We developed CBSV as a user-friendly, internet-based application with safeguards that will protect the public's information. In addition to the benefit of providing high volume, centralized SSN verification services to the business community in a secure manner, CBSV provides us with cost and workload management benefits. New Information: To use CBSV, interested parties must pay a one- time non-refundable enrollment fee of $5,000. Currently, users also pay a fee of $1.10 per SSN verification transaction in advance of services. We agreed to calculate our costs periodically for providing CBSV services and adjust the fees as needed. We also agreed to notify our customers who currently use the service and allow them to cancel or continue using the service at the new transaction fee. Based on the most recent cost analysis, we will adjust the fiscal year 2014 fee to $3.10 per SSN verification transaction. New customers will still be responsible for the one-time $5,000 enrollment fee.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders; Reopening of the Comment Period
On February 25, 2014, we published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders and solicited public comments. We provided a 60-day comment period ending on April 28, 2014. We are reopening the comment period for 30 days.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Neurological Disorders
We propose to revise the criteria in the Listing of Impairments (listings) that we use to evaluate disability claims involving neurological disorders in adults and children under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). The proposed revisions reflect our program experience; advances in medical knowledge, treatment, and methods of evaluating neurological disorders; comments we received from medical experts and the public at an outreach policy conference; and responses to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM). On Monday, May 12, 2014 at 1:00 p.m., EDT, we will conduct an informational teleconference on certain proposed changes to the medical criteria for evaluating neurological disorders in the Listing of Impairments (listings). The teleconference is open to the public and will be strictly informational. Date and Time: The teleconference will take place on Monday, May 12, 2014 at 1:00 p.m., EDT. Teleconference: To join us by teleconference, dial phone number 1- 800-930-7709 and use passcode number 112683.
Elimination of the Social Security Administration's Letter Forwarding Service
Letter Forwarding is a service we provided to the public since 1945. It is not a program related activity under the Social Security Act (Act). Therefore, we will stop the letter forwarding service.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Law Enforcement Agency (Source Jurisdiction))-Match Number 5001
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 Source Jurisdiction.
Social Security Ruling, SSR 14-1p; Titles II and XVI: Evaluating Claims Involving Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
We are providing notice of SSR 14-1p. This SSR provides guidance on how we develop evidence to establish that a person has a medically determinable impairment of chronic fatigue syndrome and how we evaluate chronic fatigue syndrome in disability claims and continuing disability reviews under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and for Evaluating Functional Limitations in Immune System Disorders; Correction and Extension of Comment Period
This document corrects and extends the deadline for submitting comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, regarding Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infection and for Evaluating Functional Limitations in Immune System Disorders.
Collection of Administrative Debts
We propose to create our own administrative debt collection regulations. Currently, we collect these debts under the authority of the Department of Health and Human Services regulations from 1995. However, under the regulations issued by the Department of Justice and Department of the Treasury (Treasury), to perform certain debt collection activities, agencies must publish their own regulations. Therefore, we propose this regulation to improve our authorities to pursue collection of administrative debts from current and separated employees and non-employee debtors as authorized by the Debt Collection Act (DCA) of 1982, amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act (DCIA) of 1996 and other existing debt collection statutes.
Medicare Determinations and Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts to Medicare Part B Premiums; Conforming Changes to Regulations
This final rule adopts, without change, the interim final rule with request for comments we published in the Federal Register on September 18, 2013. The interim final rule modified our rules regarding Medicare Part B income-related monthly adjustment amounts to conform to changes made to the Social Security Act (Act) and Internal Revenue Code by the Affordable Care Act. We also removed provisions that phased in income-related monthly adjustment amounts between 2007 and 2009 and updated a citation to reflect the transfer of authority for hearing appeals under title XVIII of the Act from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services.