Date: July 26, 1996



On July 18, 1996. the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3734, the Welfare Reform Reconciliation Act of 1996, by a vote of 256 to 170. H.R. 3734 (as passed) contains the text of H.R. 3829 as amended on the floor of the House. The bill includes 55I provisions affecting noncitizens, recovery of SSI overpayments, childhood disability and reduction in payments to institutionalized ind ividuals. It also includes provisions on nonpayment of title II benefits for noncitizens in the United States and development of a prototype of a counterfeit resistant Social Security card.


Social Security Benefits

  • Prohibits the payment of Social Security benefi ts to any noncitizen in the U.S. who is not a qualified alien, defined as:
    • an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence;
    • an alien who is granted asylum;
    • a refugee;
    • an alien who is paroled into the U.S. for a period of at least 1 year;
    • an alien whose deportation is being withheld; or
    • an alien who is granted conditional entry.

  • Excludes from the nonpayment provision, benefits payable under an international agreement or treaty or under a totalization agreement.

Effective for benefits based on applications filed on or after the date of enactment.

SSI Benefits

  • 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 are withheld);
    • active duty Armed Forces personnel, honorably discharged veterans, and their spouses and dependent children;
    • lawful permanent residents who have earned 40 quarters of coverage 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 widow(er)) would be credited with all quarters of coverage earned by his or her spouse during the marriage.

Effective upon enactment. However, with regard to individuals on the SSI rolls at the time of enactment, would require the Commissioner, within 1 year after enacttnent, to redetermine the eligibility of all noncitizens who do not meet the new eligibility catego ries. If a noncitizen is not in one of the new categories, his or her eligibility would terminate as of the date of the redetermination.

  • Requires the Commissioner to notify all potentially affected beneficiaries on the SSI rolls of the provision by 1/1/97.

Deeming of Sponsors ' Incomes and Resources

  • For purposes of eligibility under SSI, deems all of the sponsors' (and sponsors' spouses') income 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 are 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, a quarter would not count as one of the required 40 if the noncitizen or person whose quarters are being credited to the noncitizen got federally funded assistance for low-income persons 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 to 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 Health and Human Services (HHS), to develop a standard affidavit 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 information to INS of any individual that SSA knows is unlawfully in the United States. Such reports would be required at least 4 times a year. Also requires the Commissioner to ensure that State supplementary program agreements with States include provi sions for the State also to furnish such information.

Effective upon enactment.


SSI Eligibility Based on 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.
  • Requires SSA to ensure that:
    • the combined effects of all physical and mental impairments of a child are considered in determining whether the child is disabled;
    • the Social Security regulations provide for the evaluation of children who cannot be tested because of their young age.

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.

  • 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.

Current Recipients

  • 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.

  • The benefits of those recipients determined to be ineligible under the new eligibility criteria would terminate for the month beginning on or after 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 1994 (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.


Suspension of Benefits to Prisoners

  • Provides for incentive payments from program funds to State and local institutions for furnishing information (date of confinement and certain identifying information) to SSA which results in suspension of Social Security or SSI benefits (up to S400 for information received within 30 days of confinement or up to $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.

  • Eliminates the Social Security benefit suspension requirement that inmates be confined for a crime punishable by imprisonment for more than 1 year. Suspension of Social Security benefits would apply to individuals confined throughout a cale ndar month.

Effective for applications filed on or after the date of enactment.

Repeal Maintenance-of-Effort Requirement

  • Eliminates the maintenance- of-effort requirement ("passalong") for States with regard to their State supplementary payment programs.

Effective upon enactment.

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 month in which the application is filed, or in 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 lirslmonth of eligibility).

  • Requires that the emergency advance payment be repaid through proportional reductions in bene fits payable ove r 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 Institutionalzed Individuals Whose Medical Costs are Covered 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.

Recovery of SSI Overpayments from Social Security Benefits

  • Provides that the Commiss ioner of Social Security can recover the amount of an overpayment of SSI benefits from an individual's Social Security benefits. Also provides that the reduction in the individual's Social Security benelit resulting from the recovery shall not make the individual eligible for SSI, or, if the individual is already eligible, result in an increase in the SSI benefit.

Effective upon enactment with respect to overpayments outstandi ng on or 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 retroactive payments be paid in full to an individual who is terminally ill.

Effective with respect to past-due benefits payable after the third month following the month of enactment.

Disposal of Resources for Less Than Fair-Market Valne

  • Children whose assets have been disposed of for less than their market value will be ineligible for a period of months equal to the uncompensated value of the disposed assets divided by the SSI Federal benefit rate (FBR)--currently $470.

Effective with respect to transfers that occur at least 90 days after the date of enactment.

Treatment of Assets Held in Trusts

  • Provides that tru sts funds established with a child's assets (where the child is the trust beneficiary) will be considered a countable resource of the child.

Applies to trusts established on or after 90 days after the date of enactment.

Dedicated Savings Accounts

  • Require s the establishment of a bank account to maintain retroactive SSI benefits that equal or exceed 6 times the FBR for disabled/blind children (smaller amounts may be placed in such accounts once established).

  • Allow funds to be used for:

    • Education or job skill training.
    • Personal needs assistance.
    • Specia l equipment or housing modifications.
    • Medical treatment , therapy or rehabilitation.
    • Other items or services SSA dete rmines appropriate.

  • Requires that expenditures must be for expenses related to the impairment of the child.

  • Provides that unauthorize d expenditures constitute misapplication of benefits and are recoverab le 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 acco unts 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 prosec ution, 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 photog raph of any SSI recipient, providing the request includes the name of the recipient and other identifying information and notifies SSA that the recipient:

    • is fleeing to avoid pro secution, or custody or confinement after a felony conviction;
    • is violating 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 10 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.


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-resistant material (e. g ., plastic);
      employs technologi es that provide security features (e. g ., magnetic stripe); and
      provides ind ividuals 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 counterfeit-resistant Social Security card for all individuals over a 3-, 5-,
      and 10-year period;
      evaluation of the feasibility and cos t 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 card to the Congress within I year of the date of enactment.

Effective with respect to benefits payable for month s beginning more than 180 days after enactment.

  • Requires SSA to complete a study and report to Congress within 1 year of the
    date of enactment on feasibility of prisoner reporting by courts and
    mandatory elec tronic reporting by correctional facilities

Expansion of the Federal Parent Loca tor Service

  • 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 birth date of individuals and the employer identification number of
    employers. SSA would be reimbursed by HHS for the cost of this verification

Effective upon enactment.


Regulations and Miscellaneous

  • Directs SSA to submit final regulations pertaining to the eligibility of children to SSI disability benefits to the Congress at least 45 days before such regulations would be effective.

Requires SSA to prescribe the regulations needed to implement the amendments within 3 months of the date of enactment.

  • Requires SSA to report to the Congress, no later than 180 days following the date of enactment, on its progress in implementing the changes in the SSI disabled children's provisions.


Study of Disability Determination Process

  • Requires SSA to arrange (not later than 90 days after the date of enactment),
    with the National Academy of Social Insurance, or another independent entity,
    to conduct a study of the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income
    disability determination proce sses . Also requires SSA to ask the appropriate
    entity to submit a report of its findings and recommendations from the study to
    the President and the Congress at 18 and 24-month intervals.

Directs SSA, following the receipt of each report, to issue regulations implementing
any necessary changes.

National Commission Oil the Future of Disability

  • Establishes a 15 member National Commission on the Future of Disability
    to study all matters related to the nature, purpose, and adequacy of all Federal
    programs serving individuals with disabilities, especially the Social Security and
    SSI disability programs.
  • Requires the Commission to submit an interim report (not later than 1 year
    prior to its termination) and a final report (prior to its termination) to the
    President and the Congress which presents its findings and recommendations.
    The Commission will terminate 2 years after it names its chair and vice-chair
  • Authorizes the appropriation of such funds as are necessary to carry out the
    purposes of the Commission.

Study by General Accounting Office

  • 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 Feder al, State, or local programs.

Annnal Report on the SSI Program

  • Requires the Commiss ioner 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;
    • projections of future numbers of recipients and program costs, through at least 25 years;
    • information on redeterminations, 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 Social Security Advisory Board be permitted to include their views on the SSI program in the annual report.

Effective upon enactment.