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Proposed Rule

Transfer of Accumulated Benefit Payments

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 (SSA).

ACTION:

Notice of proposed rulemaking.

SUMMARY:

We propose to amend our regulations to allow a representative payee who will no longer be serving in that capacity to transfer accumulated Start Printed Page 52707benefit payments and interest directly to a beneficiary if we determine that it would be in the best interest of the beneficiary. This change would give us more flexibility in deciding how conserved funds should be handled in these circumstances. The change would also reduce or eliminate delays in the delivery of conserved funds to some beneficiaries.

DATES:

To be sure that we consider your comments, we must receive them by December 14, 2009.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments by any one of four methods—Internet, fax, mail, or hand delivery. Do not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method. Regardless of which method you choose, please state that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA-2009-0067 so that we may associate your comments with the correct regulation.

Caution: You should be careful to include in your comments only information that you wish to make publicly available. We strongly urge you not to include in your comments any personal information, such as Social Security numbers or medical information.

1. Internet: We strongly recommend this method for submitting your comments. Visit the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Use the Search function of the webpage to find docket number SSA-2009-0067, then submit your comment. Once you submit your comment, the system will issue you a tracking number to confirm your submission. You will not be able to view your comment immediately as we must manually post each comment. It may take up to a week for your comment to be viewable.

2. Fax: Fax comments to (410) 966-2830.

3. Mail: Address your comments to the Commissioner of Social Security, P.O. Box 17703, Baltimore, MD 21235-7703.

4. Hand delivery: Deliver your comments to the Office of Regulations, Social Security Administration, 137 Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, business days.

Comments are available for public viewing on the Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov or in person, during regular business hours, by arranging with the contact person identified below.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Richard Bresnick, Office of Regulations, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 965-1758. For information on eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Version

The electronic file of this document is available on the date of publication in the Federal Register at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/​fr/​index.html.

Background

Our representative payment regulations are in Subpart U of part 404 and subpart F of part 416. In certain cases, we will appoint a representative payee to receive benefit payments on behalf of a beneficiary. Generally, we appoint a representative payee if we have determined that the beneficiary is not able to manage his or her own benefits or direct the management of benefit payments in his or her interest. The payee must use the payments only for the beneficiary's use and benefit. The payee must conserve or invest for the beneficiary any funds remaining after paying for the beneficiary's current needs.

If a payee is no longer going to serve in that capacity, our regulations require the payee to return conserved funds to us or transfer them to a successor payee, as we will specify. The payee is not permitted to transfer these conserved funds to a beneficiary directly. 20 CFR 404.2060 and 416.660. The payee's inability to directly transfer funds to a beneficiary can cause difficulty for both the beneficiary and the representative payee. When we determine that a payee is no longer needed because the beneficiary has become capable of managing his or her own benefits, this two-step process delays our payment of the conserved funds to the beneficiary.

Our regulatory process is particularly problematic for those beneficiaries transitioning out of foster care and for their payees. These beneficiaries might need immediate access to the conserved funds to pay for rent or other necessities. Additionally, at least one State law requires State agency representative payees for beneficiaries in foster care to turn over all conserved funds directly to the beneficiary when he or she transitions out of foster care.

Explanation of Changes

We propose to revise §§ 404.2060 and 416.660 of our regulations to permit a payee to transfer conserved funds to a beneficiary if we so specify. The proposed change would give us the discretion to authorize a payee-to-beneficiary transfer of conserved funds and make the representative payment process more efficient. Allowing direct transfer would conserve our scarce administrative resources and provide faster access to beneficiaries who have become capable of managing their own benefits.

Clarity of These Proposed Rules

Executive Order 12866 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 them 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 is not 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?

When Will We Start To Use These Rules?

We will not use these rules until we evaluate the public comments we receive on them, determine whether they should be issued as final rules, and issue final rules in the Federal Register. If we publish final rules, we will explain in the preamble how we will apply them, and summarize and respond to the significant public comments. Until the effective date of any final rules, we will continue to use our current rules.

Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866

We have consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and determined that these proposed rules do not meet the requirements for a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866. Thus, they were not reviewed by OMB.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

We certify that these proposed rules, if published in final, would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because they would affect primarily individuals. Accordingly, a regulatory flexibility analysis as provided in the Start Printed Page 52708Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, is not required.

Paperwork Reduction Act

This rule does not create any new, or affect any existing, collections, and therefore, does not require OMB approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001, Social Security—Disability Insurance; 96.002, Social Security—Retirement Insurance; 96.004, Social Security—Survivors Insurance; and 96.006, Supplemental Security Income)

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List of Subjects

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Dated: October 2, 2009.

Michael J. Astrue,

Commissioner of Social Security.

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For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend subpart U of part 404 and subpart F of part 416 of chapter III of title 20 Code of Federal Regulations as set forth below:

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

Subpart U—[Amended]

1. The authority citation for subpart U of part 404 is revised to read as follows:

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Authority: Secs. 205(a), (j), and (k), and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 405(a), (j), and (k), and 902(a)(5)).

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2. Amend § 404.2060 by revising the first sentence to read as follows:

Transfer of accumulated benefit payments.

A representative payee who has conserved or invested benefit payments shall transfer these funds and the interest earned from the invested funds to either a successor payee, to the beneficiary, or to us, as we will specify. * * *

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

Subpart F—[Amended]

3. The authority citation for subpart F of part 416 is revised to read as follows:

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Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1631(a)(2) and (d)(1) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5) and 1383(a)(2) and (d)(1)).

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4. Amend § 416.660 by revising the first sentence to read as follows:

Transfer of accumulated benefit payments.

A representative payee who has conserved or invested benefit payments shall transfer these funds, and the interest earned from the invested funds, to either a successor payee, to the beneficiary, or to us, as we will specify. * * *

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[FR Doc. E9-24648 Filed 10-13-09; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4191-02-P