Monitoring Reviews for Certain Representative Payees
We are requesting information from the public regarding how we should conduct periodic onsite reviews of certain representative payees under Titles II, VIII, and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act) and how we can improve the representative payee program. We are seeking this information to decide whether and how we should make any changes to the representative payee program to further protect our beneficiaries from misuse of their benefits by representative payees.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended: Proposed New Routine Use and Updated Retention and Disposal
Pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended, we are issuing public notice of our intent to add a new routine use to, and update the retention and disposal schedule of, an existing system of records entitled: Representative Disqualification, Suspension and Non- Recognition Information File, (60-0219). This system was last published in the Federal Register, 75 FR 25904 (May 10, 2010). The new routine use will allow broader disclosure to a bar disciplinary authority, court, or administrative tribunal before the agency imposes sanctions against a representative. The Office of General Counsel will use this new routine use to disclose records regarding the agency's investigation of an attorney, as well as records regarding non- attorneys misrepresenting themselves as attorneys, and non-attorneys continuing to practice despite non-recognition, suspension, or disqualification by the agency. The new routine use will allow for broader disclosure of representative misconduct to promote the integrity of our programs. The update to the retention and disposal section is based on the agency's specific records schedules. The new routine use and update to the retention and disposal section are described below.
Revisions to Direct Fee Payment Rules
We are adopting, with two revisions, our interim final rules that implemented amendments to the Social Security Act (Act) made by the Social Security Disability Applicants' Access to Professional Representation Act of 2010 (PRA). The interim final rules made permanent the direct fee payment rules for eligible non-attorney representatives under titles II and XVI of the Act and for attorney representatives under title XVI of the Act. They also revised some of our eligibility policies for non-attorney representatives under titles II and XVI of the Act. Based on public comment and subsequent inquiries, we are revising our rules to clarify that an eligible non- attorney representative's liability insurance policy must include malpractice coverage. We are also reaffirming that a business entity legally permitted to provide the required insurance in the States in which the non-attorney representative conducts business must underwrite the policies.
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: Growth Impairment, Musculoskeletal System, Respiratory System, Cardiovascular System, Digestive System, Hematological Disorders, Skin Disorders, Neurological, and Mental Disorders. We are making no other revisions to these body systems in this final rule. This extension will ensure that we continue to have the criteria we need to evaluate impairments in the affected body systems at step three of the sequential evaluation processes for initial claims and continuing disability reviews.
Rate for Assessment on Direct Payment of Fees to Representatives in 2015
We are announcing that the assessment percentage rate under sections 206(d) and 1631(d)(2)(C) of the Social Security Act (Act), 42 U.S.C. 406(d) and 1383(d)(2)(C), is 6.3 percent for 2015.
Federal Awarding Agency Regulatory Implementation of Office of Management and Budget's Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards
This joint interim final rule implements for all Federal award-making agencies the final guidance Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards (Uniform Guidance) published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on December 26, 2013. This rule is necessary in order to incorporate into regulation and thus bring into effect the Uniform Guidance as required by OMB. Implementation of this guidance will reduce administrative burden and risk of waste, fraud, and abuse for the approximately $600 billion per year awarded in Federal financial assistance. The result will be more Federal dollars reprogrammed to support the mission, new entities able to compete and win awards, and ultimately a stronger framework to provide key services to American citizens and support the basic research that underpins the United States economy.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of Homeland Security (DHS))-Match Number 1010
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 DHS.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Genitourinary Disorders; Correction
This document corrects a misspelling in the regulatory language of our final rulemaking published in the Federal Register on Friday, October 10, 2014, titled Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Genitourinary Disorders.
Charging Standard Administrative Fees for Nonprogram-Related Information Requests for Detailed Social Security Earnings
On November 8, 2013,\1\ we announced in the Federal Register a new administrative fee we charge to the public for detailed yearly Social Security earnings information. We charge administrative fees to recover our full costs when we provide information and related services for nonprogram purposes. We are announcing an update to the previously published fee for detailed yearly Social Security earning information.
Cost-of-Living Increases and Other Determinations for 2015; Correction
The Social Security Administration published a document in the Federal Register of October 29, 2014, concerning the cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits effective December 31, 2014. The new document specifies the effective date of the 1.7 percent cost-of- living increase in Social Security benefits.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Railroad Retirement Board (RRB))-Match Number 1308
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 RRB.
Cost-of-Living Increase and Other Determinations for 2015
Under title II of the Social Security Act (Act), there will be a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase in Social Security benefits effective December 2014. In addition, the national average wage index for 2013 is $44,888.16. The cost-of-living increase and national average wage index affect other program parameters as described below.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of Labor (DOL))-Match Number 1015
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 DOL.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Department of Labor (DOL))-Match Number 1003
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 DOL.
Privacy Act of 1974, as Amended; Computer Matching Program (SSA/Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE))-Match Number 1074
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 OCSE.
Revised Medical Criteria for Evaluating Genitourinary Disorders
These final rules revise the criteria in the Listing of Impairments (listings) that we use to evaluate cases involving genitourinary disorders in adults and children under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). The revisions reflect our program experience and address adjudicator questions we have received since we last comprehensively revised this body system in 2005.
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.