Date: August 2, 1996
CONGRESS REACHES AGREEMENT ON H.R. 3734,
THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND
WORK OPPORTUNITY RECONCILIATION ACT OF 1996
House and Senate conferees reached agreement on the differences in the House- and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 3734, Ole Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. On July 31, the House passed the conference agreement by a vote of 328-10 I.
On August 1, the Senate passed the conference agreement by a vote of 78-21. President Clinton announced on July 31 his intention to sign the bill into law.
The bill includes the following provisions of interest to SSA:
LIMITED ELIGIBILITY OF NONCITIZENS
Social Security Benefits
- Prohibits the payment of Social Security benefits to any noncitizen in the U.S. who is not lawfully present in the U.S. (as determined by the Attorney General), unless the payment is made pursuant to a totalization agreement or treaty obligation.
Effective for benefits based on applications filed after the month of enactment.
- Prohibits SSI eligibility for all noncitizens except:
- refugees (eligibility limited to the 5-year period after their arrival in the United States);
- asylees (eligibility limited to the 5-year period after the date they are granted asylum);
- noncitizens who have had deportation withheld under INA-section 243(h)(eligibility limited to the 5-year period after the date their deportations
- certain active duty Armed Forces personnel , honorably discharged veterans, and their spouses and dependent children;
- lawful permanent residents who have earned 40 quarters of cove rage for Social Security purposes. An individual under age of 18 would be
credited with all quarters of coverage earned by his or her parent, and a married individual (including widowt(er)) would be credited with all quarters of coverage earned by his or her spouse during the marriage. However, for quarters earned after December 31, 1996, a quarter would not count as one of the required 40 if the noncitizen or person whose quarters are being credited to the noncitizen received federally funded public assistance during the quarter the work was done.
Effective upon enactment. However, with regard to individuals on the SSI rolls at the time of enactment, requires the Commissioner to redetermine the eligibility of all noncitizens who do not meet the new eligibility categories within 1 year after enactment. If a noncitizen is not in one of the new categories, his or her eligibility would end as of the date of the redetermination.
- Requires the Commissioner to notify all potentially affected beneficiaries on the SSI rolls of the provision by 3/31/97.
Deeming of Sponsors' Incomes and Resources
- For purposes of eligibility under SSI, deems all of the sponsors' (and sponsors' spouses') incomes and resources to the noncitizen until citizenship with the following exception:
- Deeming would end before citizenship in the case of lawful permanent residents who earn 40 quarters of coverage. Deeming for children and spouses of workers also could end before citizenship if they arc credited with 40 quarters, i.e., an individual under age of 18 would be credited with all quarters of coverage earned by his or her parent, and a married individual (including widow(er)) would be credited with all quarters of coverage earned by his or her spouse during the marriage. However, for quarters earned after December 31, 1996, a quarter would not count as one of the required 40 if the noncitizen or person whose quarters are being credited to the noncitizen received federally funded public assistance during the quarter the work was done.
Effective for sponsored noncitizens who are admitted into the country under new, legally enforceable affidavits of support.
Requirements for Affidavits of Support for Sponsorship
- Makes affidavits of support legally enforceable against the sponsor until the noncitizen becomes a U.S. citizen. The affidavit would be enforceable for a period of 10 years after the noncitizen last received public assistance benefits, including SSI.
- Requires the agency that provides assistance to a noncitizen to request reimbursement from the sponsor for the assistance it provided. If the sponsor does not respond or is unwilling to make reimbursement within 45 days after the agency's request, the agency may take legal action against the sponsor. Would allow the agency to hire individuals to collect reimbursement.
- Requires the Attorney General , in consultation with the Secretary of State and
the Secretary of Health and Human Services, to develop a standard affidav it of
support within 90 days after the date of enactment. Also would require-effective with a date specified by the Attorney General which would be no earlier than 60 and no later than 90 days after development of the standard affidavit--that all newly signed affidavits be legally enforceable.
Reports to INS
- Requires the Commissioner to furnish the name, address, and other identifying iuformation to INS of any individual that SSA knows is unlawfully in the United States. Such reports would be required at least four times a year. Also requires the Commissioner to ensure that State supplementary program agreements with States include provisions for the State also to furnish such information.
Effective upon enactment.
SSI Eligibility Based ou Childhood Disability
- Eliminates the comparable severity standard and provides instead that a child under age 18 would be cousidcred under a disability if he/she has a medically determinable impairment which results in marked and severe functional limitations and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
- Directs SSA to eliminate references to maladaptive behavior in the domain of personallbe havioral function in the Listing of Impairments for children and to discontinue the use of an individualized functional assessment in evaluating a child's disability.
These provisions would be applicable to any individual who applies for SSI disability benefits, or whose claim is finally adjudicated, on or after the date of enactment, without regard to whether implementing regulations have been issued.
- Requires SSA to notify recipients eligible for SSI disability benefits on enactment date and whose eligibility may be affected by the new childhood disability eligibility criteria, no later than January 1, 1997.
- Requires SSA to redetermine the eligibility of such recipients, using the new childhood disability eligibility criteria no later than 1 year after the date of enactment.
Benefits for those recipients who do not meet the new childhood disability eligibility criteria would terminate for the month beginning on or after the later of July 1, 1997 or the date of the redetermination.
Eligibility Redeterminations and Continuing Disabilitv Reviews (CDRs)
- Requires CDRs:
- once every 3 years for recipients under age 18 with non-permanent impairments; and
- not later than 12 months after birth for low-birth weight babies.
- Requires the representative payee of a recipient whose continuing eligibility is being reviewed to present evidence that the recipient is receiving treatment which is considered medically necessary and available , unless SSA determines that such treatment would be inappropriate or unnecessary. If the representative payee refuses, without good cause, to cooperate, SSA may change the payee.
- Requires an eligibility redetermination, using the adult initial eligibility criteria, during the 1-year period beginning on a recipient's 18th birthday.
Applies to benefits for months beginning on or after the date of enactment, without regard to whether implementing regulations have been issued.
- Repeals the present law requirement in the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of [994 (Public Law 103-296) that SSA (1) redetermine, using the adult eligibility criteria, the eligibility of one-third of the recipients who attain age 18 in or after May 1995 in each of fiscal years 1996 through 1998 and (2) submit a report regarding these reviews to the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance not later than October 1, 1998.
- Makes conforming changes in the medical improvement review standard to reflect the new definition of disability for children who file for SSI benefits.
Applicable with respect to benefits for months beginning on or after the date of enactment, without regard to whether implementing regulations have been issued.
- Authorizes the appropriation of an additional $150 million in fiscal year 1997 and $100 million in fiscal year [998 for the costs of processi ng CDRs and redeterminations.
- Requires SSA to issue regulations implementing the changes relating to benefits for disabled children within 3 months after enactment date.
- Directs SSA to submit all final regulations pertaining to a child 's eligibility for SSI disability benefits to the Congress at least 45 days before such regulations become effective.
- Requires SSA to report to the Congress, not later than 180 days following the date of enactment, on its progress in implementing the changes in the SSI disabled children's provisions.
- Requires GAO, not later than January 1, 1999, to study and report on the impact of the changes made by this Act on the SSI program and the extra expenses incurred by families of children receiving SSI benefits that are not covered by other Federal, State, or local programs.
OTHER SSI CHANGES
- Provides for incentive payments from SSI program funds to State and local penal institutions for furnishing information (date of confinement and certain identifying information) to SSA which results in suspension of SSI benefits ($400 for information received within 30 days of confinement or $200 for information received from 31 to 90 days after confinement).
Applies to individuals whose period of confinement commences on or after the first day of the seventh month beginning after the month of enactment.
- Exempts SSI reporting agreements under which incentive payments are made from the Computer Matching and Privacy Protection Act of 1988.
- Requires the Commissioner to study and report to Congress (within 1 year of enactment) on the feasibility of prisoner reporting by courts and mandatory electronic reporting by correctional facilities for purposes of carrying out the suspension of benefits under the SSI program.
- Requires SSA to provide Congress (not later than October 1, 1998) with a list of the institutions that are, and are not, providing information on SSI recipients to SSA.
- Authorizes SSA to provide, on a reimbursable basis, information obtained pursuant to SSI reporting agreements under which incentive payments are made to any Federal or Federally-assisted cash, food, or medical assistance program for eligibility purposes.
Modify the Effective Date of Applications
- Provides that an individual's application for SSI benefits would be effective on the first day of the month following the date on which the application is filed, or on which the individual first becomes eligible, whichever is later. The amendment, in effect, eliminates prorated payments for the month of application.
- Permits the issuance of an emergency advance payment to an individual who is presumptively eligible and has a financial emergency in the month the application is filed (the month prior to the first month of eligibility).
- Requires that the emergency advance payment be repaid through proportional reductions in benefits payable over a period of not more than 6 months.
Effective for applications filed on or after the date of enactment.
Reduction in Cash Benefits Payable to Institutionalized Individuals Whose Medical Costs ar e Cover ed by Private Insurance
- Limits to not more than $30 a month cash benefits payable to children who are in an institution receiving medical care covered by private insurance.
Effective with respect to benefits for months beginning 90 or more days after the date of enactment.
Installment Payments of Large Past-Due SSI Payments
- Establishes a schedule for paying retroactive SSI benefit amounts that exceed 12 times the monthly FBR plus the monthly State supplement level. Payments would be made at six-month intervals.
- The first installment would be 12 times the FBR ($5,640 based on 1996 rates) plus any Federally administered State supplement.
- Any remaining retroactive benefits would be paid in a second installment (not to exceed the first payment amount).
- All remaining retroactive benefits would be paid in the third installment.
- Provides that where an underpaid individual has incurred debts to provide for food, clothing or shelter, has expenses for disability-related items and services that exceed the installment limit, or has entered into a contract to purchase a home, the installment payment would be increased by the amount needed to cover these debts, expenses, and obligations.
- Provides that full retroactive payments be paid to an individual who is terminally ill or, if currently ineligible, is likely to remain so for the next 12 months.
Effective with respect to past-due benefits payable after the third month following the month of enactment.
Dedicated Savings Accounts
- Requires the establishment of a bank account to maintain retroactive SSI benefits that exceed 6 times the FBR for disabled/blind children (smaller amounts may be placed in such accounts once established).
- Allows funds to be used for:
- education or job skill training.
- personal needs assistance.
- special equipment or housing modifications.
- medical treatment, therapy or rehabilitation.
- other items or services SSA determines appropriate.
- Requires that expenditures must be for expenses related to the impairment of the child.
- Provides that unauthorized expenditures constitute misapplication of benefits and are recoverable from the payee.
- Requires SSA to establish an accountability system to monitor these accounts and payees are required to report on the use of these funds.
- Provides that accounts are excluded from resource counting and that interest earned is excluded from income.
Effective with respect to payments made after the date of enactment.
Denial of Benefits for Fugitive Felons and Parole Violators/Exchange of Information with Law Enforcement Officers
- Denies eligibility for SSI with respect to any month in which an individual is fleeing prosecution, a fugitive felon, or violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under State or Federal law.
- Requires SSA to provide upon written request of any law enforcement officer, the current address, SSN, and photograph of any SSI recipient, provided that the request includes the name of the recipient and other identifying information and notifies SSA that the recipient:
- is fleeing to avoid prosecution, or custody or confmement after a felony conviction;
- is viol ating a condition of probation or parole; or
- has information that is necessary for the officer to conduct the officer's official duties and the location or apprehension of the recipient is within the officer's official duties.
Effective upon enactment.
Denial of SSI Benefits for 10 Years to Individuals Who Have Misrepresented Residence in Order to Obtain Benefits in 2 or More States
- Denies SSI benefits for a period of to years to an individual convicted in Federal or State court of having made a fraudulent statement with respect to his or her place of residence in order to receive benefits simultaneously in two or more States.
Effective upon enactment.
Annual Report on the SSI Program
- Requires the Commissioner to report to the President and Congress regarding the SSI program, not later than May 30 of each year, including:
- a comprehensive description of the program;
- historical and current data on allowances and denials, reconsiderations, administrative law judge hearings and appeals, characteristics of recipients, and program costs;
- historical and current data on prior enrollment by recipients in public benefit programs;
- projections of future numbers of recipients and program costs, through at least 25 years;
- information on redeterminations, continuing disability reviews, utilization of work incentives, administrative costs, State supplementation programs;
- summaries of relevant research; and
- a historical summary of statutory changes to the SSI law
- Provides that each member of the Socia l Security Advisory Board be permitted to include their views on the SSI programin the annual report.
Effective upon enactment.
USE OF SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS
Social Security Card
- Requires the Commissioner of Social Security to develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card that:
- is made of durable, tamper-res istant material (e.g. , plastic);
- employs technologies that provide security features (e. g., magnetic stripe); and
- provides individuals with reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status.
- Requires the Commissioner of Social Security to study and report on different methods of improving the Social Security card application process, including:
- evaluation of the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfe it-resis tant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3- , 5-, and l0-year period;
- evaluation of the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards and cards issued to individuals who apply for such a card prior to the scheduled 3-, 5-, and 10-year phase-in options.
- Requires the Commissioner to submit the report and a facsimile of the prototype ca rd to the Congress within 1 year of the date of enactment.
- Requires HHS to transmit to SSA, for verification purposes, certain information about individuals and employers maintained under the Federal Parent Locator Service in an automated directory to be known as the National Directory of New Hires. SSA would be required to verify the accuracy of, correct, or supply to the extent possible, and report to HHS the name, SSN, and birtb date of individuals and the employer identification number of employers. SSA would be reimbursed by HHS for the cost of this verification service.
Effective upon enactment.
Collection and Use of SSNs for Use in Child-Support Enforcement
- Provides that State child support enforcement procedure s would have to require that the SSN of any applicant for a professional license, commercial driver's license, occupational license, or marriage license be recorded on the application. The SSN of any person subject to a divorce dec ree. support order, or paternity detcrmination or acknowledgement would have to be placed in the pertinent records. SSN's would also have to be recorded on death certificates.
Effective upon enactment.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
- Provides that, in order to be eligible for the EITC, an individual must include on his or her tax return a Social Security number which was not assigned solely for nonwork purposes.
Effective for taxable years beginning after 1995.