Number: 109-19
Date: January 3, 2007

President Bush Signs into law H.R. 6111
The Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006

On December 20, 2006, the President signed into law H.R. 6111, the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006. The Act has been designated Public Law 109-432. On December 5, 2006, the House amended and passed the measure by voice vote. On December 7, 2006, the Senate amended the House-passed version and passed the bill by unanimous consent. On December 8, 2006, the House amended the Senate-passed version and passed it by a vote of 367-45. On December 9, 2006, the Senate agreed to the House amendments to the Senate-passed bill amendment by a vote of 79-9, clearing the measure for the President. The law contains the following provisions of interest to SSA:

Coal Industry Retiree Health Benefit Act

Requires the Commissioner of Social Security to revoke all existing assignments of retired coal miners and survivors of miners to coal operators (other than 1988 agreement holders).

  • Individuals whose existing assignments are revoked as a result of this legislation will become unassigned beneficiaries and will not be reassigned.

  • Existing assignments to 1988 agreement holders are not affected.

  • All future new assignments will be made to 1988 agreement holders.

  • Effective for existing assignments and reassignments on and after 10/1/07.

Extends Consideration of Combat Pay as Earned Income for Calculation of Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)

  • Extends the present law that allows combat pay to be considered for EITC purposes for one additional year (for taxable years ending before January 1, 2008). For SSI purposes, EITC payments are excluded from income, and are not a countable resource for 9 calendar months following the month of receipt.

Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and Welfare to Work (WTW) Tax Credits

Extends the WOTC and WTW credits for an additional two years (to include wages for individuals beginning work after December 31, 2005, and before January 1, 2008).

  • Combines the two credits for wages for individuals who begin work for the employer after December 31, 2006.

  • Expands eligibility for the WOTC.

  • Eliminates the WOTC family income restrictions for ex-felons.

  • Makes other minor modifications.

  Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage

Allows eligible Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries an opportunity to enroll in Medicare Advantage (or Part C) programs on any date during 2007 or 2008. This opportunity would allow only one change during the year, and would be limited to Medicare Advantage plans that do not offer a prescription drug component.