Sec234[42 U.S.C. 434] (a) Authority.—

(1) In general.—The Commissioner of Social Security (in this section referred to as the “Commissioner”) shall develop and carry out experiments and demonstration projects designed to determine the relative advantages and disadvantages of—

(A) various alternative methods of treating the work activity of individuals entitled to disability insurance benefits under section 223 or to monthly insurance benefits under section 202 based on such individual’s disability (as defined in section 223(d)), including such methods as a reduction in benefits based on earnings, designed to encourage the return to work of such individuals;

(B) altering other limitations and conditions applicable to such individuals (including lengthening the trial work period (as defined in section 222(c)), altering the 24-month waiting period for hospital insurance benefits under section 226, altering the manner in which the program under this title is administered, earlier referral of such individuals for rehabilitation, and greater use of employers and others to develop, perform, and otherwise stimulate new forms of rehabilitation); and

(C) implementing sliding scale benefit offsets using variations in—

(i) the amount of the offset as a proportion of earned income;

(ii) the duration of the offset period; and

(iii) the method of determining the amount of income earned by such individuals, to the end that savings will accrue to the Trust Funds, or to otherwise promote the objectives or facilitate the administration of this title.

(2) Authority for expansion of scope.—The Commissioner may expand the scope of any such experiment or demonstration project to include any group of applicants for benefits under the program established under this title with impairments that reasonably may be presumed to be disabling for purposes of such demonstration project, and may limit any such demonstration project to any such group of applicants, subject to the terms of such demonstration project which shall define the extent of any such presumption.

(b) Requirements.—The experiments and demonstration projects developed under subsection (a) shall be of sufficient scope and shall be carried out on a wide enough scale to permit a thorough evaluation of the alternative methods under consideration while giving assurance that the results derived from the experiments and projects will obtain generally in the operation of the disability insurance program under this title without committing such program to the adoption of any particular system either locally or nationally.

(c) Authority To Waive Compliance With Benefits Requirements.—In the case of any experiment or demonstration project initiated under subsection (a) on or before December 17, 2005, the Commissioner may waive compliance with the benefit requirements of this title and the requirements of section 1148 as they relate to the program established under this title, and the Secretary may (upon the request of the Commissioner) waive compliance with the benefits requirements of title XVIII, insofar as is necessary for a thorough evaluation of the alternative methods under consideration. No such experiment or project shall be actually placed in operation unless at least 90 days prior thereto a written report, prepared for purposes of notification and information only and containing a full and complete description thereof, has been transmitted by the Commissioner to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Finance of the Senate. Periodic reports on the progress of such experiments and demonstration projects shall be submitted by the Commissioner to such committees. When appropriate, such reports shall include detailed recommendations for changes in administration or law, or both, to carry out the objectives stated in subsection (a).

(d) Reports.—

(1) Interim reports.—On or before June 9 of each year, the Commissioner shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Finance of the Senate an annual interim report on the progress of the experiments and demonstration projects carried out under this subsection together with any related data and materials that the Commissioner may consider appropriate.

(2) Termination and final report.—The authority to initiate projects under the preceding provisions of this section shall terminate on December 18, 2005. Not later than 90 days after the termination of any experiment or demonstration project carried out under this section, the Commissioner shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and to the Committee on Finance of the Senate a final report with respect to that experiment or demonstration project.

[271]  See Vol. II, P.L. 106-170, §302(c), with respect to expansion of waiver authority available in connection with demonstration projects providing for reductions in disability insurance benefits based on earnings and §302(f), with respect to funding of such demonstration projects.