NOSSCR provides the latest updates from the Social Security Administration.
NPRM TO CLARIFY WHEN AND HOW HEARINGS MAY BE HELD BY ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS JUDGES AT THE APPEALS COUNCIL
- SSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on December 20, 2019 proposing to revise its rules to clarify when and how administrative appeals judges (AAJs) at the Appeals Council may hold hearings and issue decisions. Per the NPRM, the Appeals Council already has the authority to hold hearings and issue decisions under its existing statute and regulations, but SSA has not exercised this authority or explained the circumstances under which it would be appropriate for the Appeals Council to assume responsibility for holding a hearing and issuing a decision. “The proposed clarifications will ensure the Appeals Council is not limited in the type of claims for which it may hold hearings.” SSA is proposing these rules in anticipation that they will increase its adjudicative capacity when needed, allowing the agency to adjust more quickly to fluctuating short-term workloads, such as when an influx of cases reaches the hearings level. Comments are due no later than February 18, 2020.
NPRM ON RULES REGARDING ADVANCE DESIGNATION OF REPRESENTATIVE PAYEES FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFICIARIES
- SSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on November 26, 2019 proposing to revise its rules to specify that they will allow individuals to designate in advance one or more potential representative payees. They will also explain how they propose to consider an individual’s advance designation when they select a representative payee. This is to satisfy requirements in the Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (Strengthening Protections Act), specifically to promulgate regulations specifying the information Social Security beneficiaries and applicants must provide to designate a representative payee in advance of SSA’s determination that the beneficiary needs a representative payee.
NPRM ISSUED ON RULES REGARDING THE FREQUENCY AND NOTICE OF CONTINUING DISABILITY REVIEWS
- SSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on November 18, 2019 proposing to revise its regulations regarding when and how often they conduct continuing disability reviews (CDR), which are periodic reviews of eligibility required for benefit continuation. The proposed rules would add a category to the existing medical diary categories that is used to schedule CDRs and revise the criteria for assigning each of the medical diary categories to cases. The proposed rules would also change the frequency with which SSA performs a CDR for claims with the medical diary category for permanent impairments. The revised changes would ensure that SSA continues to maintain appropriate stewardship of the disability program and identify medical improvement (MI) at its earliest point.
NPRM TO REMOVE “INABILITY TO COMMUNICATE IN ENGLISH” AS AN EDUCATION CATEGORY
- SSA published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on February 2, 2019 proposing to eliminate the education category “inability to communicate in English”when evaluating adult disability claims. “The proposed revisions reflect research and data related to English language proficiency, work, and education; expansion of the international reach of [SSA’s] disability programs; and audit findings by [SSA’s] Office of the Inspector General.”
ADVANCED NPRM ON THE CONSIDERATION OF PAIN IN THE DISABILITY DETERMINATION PROCESS
- SSA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting comments on how the agency considers pain in disability claims to ensure that SSA’s policies remain “aligned with contemporary medicine and health care delivery practices.” Specifically, SSA requested “comments and supporting data related to the consideration of pain and documentation of pain in the medical evidence [it uses] in connection with claims for benefits.”