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Proposed Rule

Claimant Identification Pilot Projects

Document Details

Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

Published Document

This document has been published in the Federal Register. Use the PDF linked in the document sidebar for the official electronic format.

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AGENCY:

Social Security Administration.

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

We propose to conduct pilot projects wherein we will request photographic identification from individuals filing for title II and title XVI disability benefits in specified geographic areas covered by the pilot projects. In addition, we would require individuals to allow us to take their photograph and we would make these photographs a part of the claims folder. We would permit an exception to the photograph requirement when an individual has a sincere religious objection. This process would strengthen the integrity of the disability claims process by helping to ensure that the individual filing the application is the same individual examined by the consultative examination (CE) physician.

DATES:

To consider your comments, we must receive them no later than January 14, 2003.

ADDRESSES:

You may give us your comments by using: our Internet site facility (i.e., Social Security Online) at http://www.ssa.gov/​regulations, e-mail to regulations@ssa.gov; by telefax to (410) 966-2830; or by letter to the Commissioner of Social Security, P.O. Box 17703, Baltimore, MD 21235-7703. Start Printed Page 69162You may also deliver them to the Office of Process and Innovation Management, Social Security Administration, 2109 West Low Rise Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on regular business days. Comments are posted on our Internet site for your review, or you may inspect them on regular business days by making arrangements with the contact person shown under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.

Electronic version: The electronic file of this document is available on the date of publication in the Federal Register at http://www.access.gpo.gov/​su_​docs/​aces/​aces140.html. It is also available on the Internet site for SSA (i.e., Social Security Online) at http://www.ssa.gov/​regulations.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Georgia E. Myers, Regulations Officer, Office of Process and Innovation Management, 2109 West Low Rise Building, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, regulations@ssa.gov, 410-965-3632 or TTY 410-966-5609 for information about these rules. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits: call our national toll-free numbers, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 or visit our Internet web site, Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Purpose of the Pilot Project

The purpose of the claimant identification pilots is to test and gather information in the use of photographic identification to address the issue of complicit impersonation in the disability claims process. Complicit impersonation is accomplished when an individual, posing as the intended claimant, and with the consent of the claimant, responds to a consultative examination appointment in order to misrepresent the claimant's true medical condition or provides false or misleading information that affects eligibility during interviews with SSA field office employees. SSA and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) have noticed an upward trend in the number of such instances. It has become apparent that we need to strengthen our procedures for identity verification. We believe that the technology for the photographic identification process is currently available and could be implemented over a short time frame. The photographic identification process should give SSA an economical yet effective means of providing improved identity documents to CE physicians. We anticipate that it will be readily accepted by the public. We will evaluate the results of the pilot and expand or modify the procedures accordingly.

How We Would Conduct the Pilot Project

We propose to conduct the pilots in the following designated geographic areas:

(1) All SSA field offices in the State of South Carolina.

(2) The Augusta, Georgia SSA field office.

(3) All SSA field offices in the State of Kansas.

(4) Selected SSA field offices located in New York City.

The pilots would be in effect for a six-month period of time and would begin upon the effective date of the final rules.

Who Would Be Affected

Individuals filing for title II and/or title XVI disability benefits at a Social Security office in the designated areas noted above would be required to participate in the claimant identification pilots. Individuals filing via the Internet or by telephone would also be included. We will be monitoring any possible impact that the pilot procedures might have on SSA's initiative to encourage the filing of applications online via the Internet.

Providing Photographic Identification

While not part of the regulatory requirement, each individual would be asked to provide some form of photographic identification. This identification would be photocopied and the copy made a part of the SSA claims folder. SSA personnel would continue to follow regular identification procedures by asking the individuals questions based on information in the SSA database to ensure that the individuals are who they hold themselves out to be. SSA personnel would obtain additional identifying information if there is a doubt about the identity of the individual. If the individual does not have photographic identification available or does not wish to provide it to us, SSA personnel would not require it but will still follow regular identification procedures as before the pilots went into effect.

Photographs Taken by SSA

Also as part of the claimant identification pilots, each individual filing for disability benefits at a location participating in the pilot program would be required to have a photograph taken by SSA personnel, regardless of whether the individual provides the photographic identification discussed above. A copy would be made of this image and placed in the SSA claims folder. Images would also be stored electronically and accessed by authorized SSA and Disability Determination Service (DDS) personnel.

If We Request a Consultative Examination

If DDS personnel request a consultative examination (CE) for the individual, a hard copy image of the photograph would be made available to the person conducting the CE. This would help to determine whether the individual presenting himself or herself for examination is the same individual who presented himself or herself as the individual filing for disability benefits. We would ask the CE physician to copy the individual's own photographic identification when the physician was not provided with a photo or a copy of a photographic identification previously taken by SSA personnel.

Other Situations

This same procedure would be used to verify the identity of pilot participants in the following situations:

  • After allowance, subsequent interviews for payment purposes.
  • Continuing Disability Reviews (CDR).
  • SSI Redeterminations.
  • If denied, appeals and any associated CE.

Explanation of Proposed Changes

Section 404.617 Pilot Program for Photographic Identification of Disability Benefit Applicants in Designated Geographic Areas

In this new section we are proposing to require individuals filing for title II disability benefits to have their photograph taken by the Social Security Administration. We would permit an exception to the photograph requirement when an individual has a sincere religious objection.

Section 416.327 Pilot Program for Photographic Identification of Disability Benefit Applicants in Designated Geographic Areas

In this new section we are proposing to require individuals filing for title XVI disability benefits to have their photograph taken by the Social Security Administration. We would permit an exception to the photograph requirement when an individual has a sincere religious objection.

Federal Register Notice for Modifying Privacy Act System of Records

A formal notice that will modify the Privacy Act system of records for the Start Printed Page 69163Claims Folder System will be published in the Federal Register to reflect the new information to be collected during the pilot projects.

Regulatory Procedures

Clarity of These Regulations

Executive Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13258, requires each agency to write all rules in plain language. In addition to your substantive comments on these proposed rules, we invite your comments on how to make these proposed rules easier to understand. For example:

  • Have we organized the material to suit your needs?
  • Are the requirements in the rules clearly stated?
  • Do the rules contain technical language or jargon that isn't clear?
  • Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing) make the rules easier to understand?
  • Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
  • Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists, or diagrams?
  • What else could we do to make the rules easier to understand?

Executive Order 12866, as Amended by Executive Order 13258

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed these proposed rules in accordance with Executive Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13258. Because of the pilot's short time duration and limited geographic coverage, we expect any costs or savings to be negligible (i.e., less than $2.5 million).

Regulatory Flexibility Act

We certify that these proposed rules will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because they affect only individuals or States. Thus, a regulatory flexibility analysis as provided in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, is not required.

Paperwork Reduction Act

These proposed rules contain reporting requirements as shown in the following table.

SectionAnnual number of responsesFrequency of responseAverage burden per response (minutes)Estimated annual burden (hours)
404.61713,910151,159
416.32714,080151,173
Total27,9902,332

An Information Collection Request has been submitted to OMB for clearance. We are soliciting comments on the burden estimate; the need for the information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, utility and clarity; and on ways to minimize the burden on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be mailed or faxed to the Office of Management and Budget and the Social Security Administration at the following addresses/fax numbers:

Office of Management and Budget, Attn: OMB Desk Officer, Rm. 10235, New Executive Office Building, 725 17th St., NW., Washington, DC 20503, Fax No. 202-395-6974.

Social Security Administration, Attn: SSA Reports Clearance Officer, Rm. 1-A-20 Operations Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, Fax No. 410-965-6400.

Comments can be received between 30 and 60 days after publication of this notice and will be most useful if received by SSA within 30 days of publication.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001, Social Security—Disability Insurance and 96.006, Supplemental Security Income)

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List of Subjects

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Dated: October 9, 2002.

Jo Anne B. Barnhart,

Commissioner of Social Security.

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For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend part 404, subpart G of chapter III, title 20 Code of Federal Regulations and part 416, subpart C of chapter III title 20 Code of Federal Regulations as follows:

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PART 404—FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE (1950- )

Subpart G—[Amended]

1. The authority citation for subpart G of part 404 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: Secs. 202(i), (j), (o), (p), and (r), 205(a), 216(i)(2), 223(b), 228(a), and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 402(i), (j), (o), (p), and (r), 405(a), 416(i)(2), 423(b), 428(a), and 902(a)(5)).

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2. Add new § 404.617 under the existing heading, APPLICATIONS, to read as follows:

Pilot program for photographic identification of disability benefit applicants in designated geographic areas.

(a) To be eligible for Social Security disability insurance benefits in the designated pilot geographic areas during the time period of the pilot, you or a person acting on your behalf must give SSA permission to take your photograph and make this photograph a part of the claims folder. You must give us this permission when you apply for benefits and/or when we ask for it at a later time. Failure to cooperate will result in denial of benefits. We will permit an exception to the photograph requirement when an individual has a sincere religious objection. This pilot will be in effect for a six-month period after the final rules become effective.

(b) Designated pilot geographic areas means:

(1) All SSA field offices in the State of South Carolina.

(2) The Augusta, Georgia SSA field office.

(3) All SSA field offices in the State of Kansas.

(4) Selected SSA field offices located in New York City.

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PART 416—SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME FOR THE AGED, BLIND AND DISABLED

Subpart C—[Amended]

3. The authority citation for subpart C of part 416 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1611, and 1631(a), (d), and (e) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1382, and 1383(a), (d), and (e)).

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4. Add new § 416.327 under the existing heading, APPLICATIONS, to read as follows:

Pilot program for photographic identification of disability benefit applicants in designated geographic areas.

(a) To be eligible for SSI disability benefits in the designated pilot geographic areas during the time period of the pilot, you or a person acting on your behalf must give SSA permission to take your photograph and make this photograph a part of the claims folder. You must give us this permission when you apply for benefits and/or when we ask for it at a later time. Failure to cooperate will result in denial of benefits. We will permit an exception to the photograph requirement when an individual has a sincere religious objection. This pilot will be in effect for a six-month period after the final rules become effective.

(b) Designated pilot geographic areas means:

(1) All SSA field offices in the State of South Carolina.

(2) The Augusta, Georgia SSA field office.

(3) All SSA field offices in the State of Kansas.

(4) Selected SSA field offices located in New York City.

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[FR Doc. 02-28957 Filed 11-14-02; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4191-02-P