Technical Corrections Clarify Regulations

Empire Justice June 27, 2014

SSA announced recently that it was making technical corrections to several of its regulations. 70 Fed. Reg. 33683 (June 12, 2014). http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-06-12/html/2014-13803.htm

First, SSA is revising a reference to section “197(a)(1)” of title 3 of the United States Code in 20 C.F.R.§ 404.1018(b)(1)(iv) to the correct reference, section “107(a)(1).”  Section 210(a)(5)(D)(iii) of the Act refers to section 107(a)(1) of title 3, and the final rule contained a typographical error that mistakenly referred to section “197(a)(1).” 53 FR 38943, 38945, Oct. 4, 1988.  This change corrects that typographical error.

Second, in 2012, SSA published final rules that made some changes to rules on evaluating evidence. 77 FR 10651, Feb. 23, 2012.  Those rules redesignated part of the regulations on evaluating opinion evidence without substantive effect.  However, SSA inadvertently did not correct all of the regulatory sections that the redesignation affected, so that some of the cross-references to the rule are incorrect.  Therefore, SSA is correcting the references in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1512(b)(7) and (b)(8), and 416.912(b)(7) and (b)(8) to reflect the correct designation of the rules.  This change has no effect on claimants’ rights or on how SSA adjudicates cases.

Third, SSA is correcting the maximum dollar amount of overpayments subject to compromise, suspension, or termination of collection under 20 C.F.R. § 404.515(a) from $20,000 to $100,000, or any higher amount authorized by the Attorney General, as provided by 31 U.S.C. § 3711 and the Federal Claims Collection Standards.  When SSA initially published those rules in 1969, the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 contained the $20,000 limit reflected in its rules. Congress temporarily raised the $20,000 limit to $100,000 in 1990, and it subsequently removed the sunset provision in the prior law as part of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996. SSA is revising its rules to conform to the current statutory authority.  The agency is also revising the reference in the heading of 20 C.F.R. § 404.515(a) from the Federal Claims Collection Act of 1966 to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, to reflect the current statutory authority.

Fourth, SSA is correcting the formula used to calculate the maximum amount payable in the first and second installment payments of large past-due benefits, from 12 times to 3 times the maximum monthly benefit payable, in 20 C.F.R. § 416.545(b).  Congress changed the formula from 12 times to 3 times the maximum monthly benefit payable in 2005. SSA subsequently published a final rule, which reflected that statutory change in the first sentence of 20 C.F.R. § 416.545(b), 76 FR 446, 453, Jan. 5, 2011.

SSA, however, inadvertently did not change the same reference in the third sentence of that section. SSA is correcting the third sentence of 20 C.F.R § 416.545(b) to conform the sentence to the statutory formula. Finally, SSA is updating references to the coverage status of affected non-temporary employees of the government of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to reflect the fact that these employees became subject to Social Security coverage beginning October 1, 2012.