Date: December 22, 1995
HOUSE AND SENATE PASS CONFERENCE REPORT
ON H.R. 4-THE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AND
WORK OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 1995
On December 21, 1995. the House agree d to the conference report on H.R. 4, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1995, by a vote of 245-178. On December 22, 1995, the Senate agreed to the conference report by a vote of 52-47.
The conference report will be sent to the President for signature. The President , however, has stated that he will veto the bill.
Below are provisions of interest to Social Security contained in titles II and IV of the bill (complete text of the bill is presently unavailable). Note that the DA&A provisions have been dropped from H.R. 4; these provisions are now in S. 1470, the Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 1995 (see Legislative Bulletin 104-15). As the provisions requiring the use of Social Security numbers for certain child support enforcement activities were included in both the House- and Senate-passed versions of H.R. 4, we assume these provisions are included and are unchanged.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME PROVISIONS
Limited Eligibility of Noncitizens for SSI Benefits
- Provides generally that noncit izens would be ineligible for SSI, with the following exceptions for those lawfully present in the United States who are:
- refugees under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) during the first 5 years after their arrival in the United States,
- a sylees under section 208 of the INA during the first 5 years after the date asylum was granted, or
- entrants whose deportations have been withheld under section 243(h) of the INA during the first 5 years after deportation was withheld.
- lawfully admitted for permanent residence who are credited with 40 qualifying quarters of coverage and did not receive Federal means-tested benefits during any of these quarters (noncitizen spouses and children can meet the work requirement if their spouse or parent has worked for 40 quarters);
- active duty United States military personnel or honorably discharged veterans who were and their spouses and unmarried dependent children.
Effective upon enactment for new applicants. The SSI eligibility of noncitizens on the rolls at the time of enactment who do not meet one of the exceptions would continue until January 1, 1997.
- Requires Federal agencies administering programs affected by these changes in noncitizen's eligibility to provide general notification to the public and program recipients about these eligibility changes.
In addition, requires individual notification to all currently eligible noncitizens affected by the provis ion within 90 days after the date of enactment. Noncitizens who want to reapply for benefit s after receiving notification would have to do so within 4 months after enactment, and the Commissioner would be required to make a determination of their eli gibility within 1 year after enactment.
Deeming of Sponsor's Income and Resources
- Requires that the income and resources of a noncitizen shall be deemed to in clud e all the income and resources of sponsors who execute new, legally binding affidavits of support (in cluding the income and resources of their spouses) until:
- the noncitizen is naturalized, or
- has been credited with 40 quarters of coverage and has Dot received public assistance in any of these same quarters. Noncitizen spouses and children can meet the work requirement if their spouse or parent ba s worked for 40 quarters.)
Effective for applications filed on or after the date of enactment by nonciti zens whose ent ry into the United States is based on a legally enforceable affidavit of support.
Affidavits of Support
- Makes the sponsorship affidavit of support legally enforceable by the Federal, State, or local government that provides means-tested support --including SSI--to an alien for a period of 10 years after the alien last receives benefits.
Requires the Federal, State, or local government that provided assistance to the alien to request reimbursement from the sponsor. If the sponsor does not respond or refuses to abide by repayment plans, the government entity may take legal action against the sponsor.
The Secretary of State is required to formulate the new affidavit of support no later than 90 days after the date of enactment and the new affidavit and associated liabilities placed on sponsors are effective no later than 90 days after its formulation.
SSI PROVISIONS RELATED TO CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES
Restrictions on Eligibility for Benefits
- Repeals the comparable severity provision and provides that an" individual under age 18 would be considered disabled if he/she has a medically det erminable physical or mental impairment which results in marked. and severe functional lim itations and which can be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months or to result in death.
Eliminates references to mal adaptive behavior in the domain of personal/behavioral function in sections 112.00C.2. and 112.02B.2.c.(2) of the Listing of Impairments.
Discontinues the use of an individualized functional assessment for evaluating disability in individuals under age 18.
These changes apply to applicants for benefits for months beginning on or after the date of enactment of this Act , without regard to whether regulations have been issued to implement such changes.
- Requires the Commissioner, within 1 year aft er the date of enactment, to redetermine the eligibility of any recipient who was receiving benefits as of the date of enactment and whose eligibility for such benefits would terminate by reason of these amendments. Such redeterminations would be given priority over other continuing eligibility reviews.
Requires the Commissioner to notify recipients affected by this provision within 90 days after enactment date.
These amendments apply to such recipients for months beginning on or after January 1, 1997.
- Would establish a new payment rate equal to 75 percent of the
Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for disabled children, except for those
described below who will cont inue to receive benefits at the full FBR.
- Children under the age of 6 who meet the new definition of disability and whose medical impairment severely limits theindividual's ability to function in an age appropriate manner and who without special personal assistance would require specialized care outside the home; and
- Children who have att ained the age of 6 who meet the new definition of disability.and who require personal care assistance with: (1) at least 2 activities of daily living; (2) continual 24-hour supervision or monitoring to avoid causing injury or harm to self or others; or (3) the administration of medical treatment; and who without such assistance would require full or part-time specialized care outside the home.
Determinations of income eligibility will continue to be based on an amount equal to 100 percent of the FBR but for purposes of payment, countable income would be charged against the new 75 percent benefit standard. Application of the one-third reduct ion would apply to both eligibility determination and benefit amount calculation.
Changes to payment amounts would be effective for new applicants who apply for benefit s on or after January 1, 1997 and for current recipients at their fir st CDR occurring after January 1, 1997.
Continuing Disabilitv Reviews and Redeterminations
- Requires the Commissioner to review at least once every 3 years the cont inuing eligibility for SSI ben efits of each individual under age 18 whose condition is not expected to improve. The medical improvement review stand ard (MIRS) would be applicable, and , at the time of review, the represen tative payee must presen t evidence that the child is receivin g appropriate treatment.
- Requires the Commissione r to redetermine the eligibility of an SSI disability recipient during the l -year period beginning on the date such recipient attains age 18. The SSI disability eligibility criteria for applicants age 18 and older would be applied in making such redeterminations.
- Requires the Commissioner to review the continuing eligibility for SSI disability benefit s of an individu al whose low birth weight is a contribut ing factor material to the findin g that such individual is disabled. These reviews must be conducted not later than 12 monthsafter the birth of the individual. The MlRS would be applicable, and, at the time of the review, the representative payee must present evidence that the child is receiving appropriate treatment.
- Appropriates funding, in addition to funds otherwise appropriated. for CDRs and redeterminations under title XVI, of $200 million for FY 1996, $75 million for FY 1997, and $25 million for FY 1998 for conducting CDRs and redeterminations under title XVI. These funds would remain available in subsequent fiscal years until expended.
- These amendments would apply to benefit s for months beginning on or after the date of enactment of thi s Act, without regard to whether regulations have been issued to implement them.
Disposal of Assets and Treatment of Trusts
- Provides that, in the case of parents who disposed of their assets or their child's assets (or a guardian who disposed of his ward's asset) within 36 months of the child's application for SSI benefits, the child's eligibility for benefits will be delayed for a number of months equal to the compensated value of the divested resource divided by the SSI Federal benefit rate.
Provides that the value of trusts on established with a child's own assets (and accruals to such trusts) would be counted in determining the child's eligibility for benefits.
Effective for disposals occurring at least 90 days after enactment and trusts established after January 1996.
Dedicated Accounts for Disabled Children
- Provides that the Commissioner, at the request of the representative payee, would pay any lump-sum payment for the benefit of a SSI eligible child into a dedicated savings account that could be used only for education and job skills training, personal needs assistance, special equipment , housing modification, medical treatment, therapy or rehabilitation, or any item or service determined to be appropriate by the Commissioner.
Funds contained in, and interest earned on, such accounts would be excluded from the determination of the individual 's resources under SSI.
Requires that the Commissioner establish a system of accountability monitoring on the use of these funds by representative payees.
Effective upon enactment.
Limitation on Benefits for Children in Medical Treatment Facilities
- Provides that SSI benefits payable to children who are in medical facilities whose care is paid for through private insurance would be limited to $30 a month.
Report on Childhood Disability Initiatives
- Requires the Commissioner to report to the Congress regarding the progress made in implementing the provisions relatin g to childhood disability not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.
Annual Report on the SSI Program
- Requires that not later than May 30 of each year, the Commissioner report to the President and Congress regarding the SSI program, 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 recipien ts a nd 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.
In addition, each member of the Social Security Advisory Council would be permitted to include in this annual report their views on the SSI program.
Study by the General Accounting Office
- Requires the Comptroller General of the United State s to study and report not later than January 1, 1998 on the impact of the amendments of this legislation on the SSI program.
OTHER SSI PROVISIONS
Increase Age for SSI Aged Benefits
- Increases the age requirement for "aged" benefits to correspond with Social Security program's "retirement age." Beginning in 2003, the age would increase 2 months per year until it reaches age 66 in 2008. A similar transit ion between age 66 and 67 would occur between 2021 and 2026.
Effective for individuals obtaining age 62 after December 1, 1999 and later.
Repeal Maintenance of Effort Requirement
- Eliminates the maintenance of effort requirement ("passalong") for States with regard to their State supplementary payment programs. Effective for calendar quarters beginning after September 1995.
Receipt of Public Assistance Benefits in Two or More States
- Prohibit s SSI eligibility for 10 years for individual s who have been convicted in a State or Federal court of having fraudulently misrepresented their State of residence in order to receive SSI, AFDC, Medicaid, or food stamp benefits simultaneously from two or more States. Effective upon enactment.
Fugitive Felons and Parole and Probation Violations
- Prohibits SSI eligibility for fugitive felons and parole and probation violators and requires SSA to provide to law enforcement personnel, upon their request, the addresses of SSI recipients who are fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody, or confinement, are involved in parole or probation violations, or have information related to official law enforcement activities. Effective upon enactment.
National Commission on the Future of Disability
- Establishes a National Commission on the Future of Disability, whose expenses would be paid from funds appropriated for this purpose. The Commission would be required to undertake a comprehensive study of all matters related to the nature, purpose, and adequacy of all Federal programs serving individuals with disabilities and to report its recommendations for changes to the President and the Congress.
The Commission members would serve for the life of the Commission, i.e., a 2-year period.
Requires the Commission to submit an interim report, at the end of the first year, to the President and the Congress. This report must include a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the Commission, together with the Commission's recommendat ions for legislative and administrative actions.
A final report, which discusses both the Commission's final findings, conclusions, and recommendations and an assessment of the extent to which the recommendations contained in its interim report have been implemented, would be required not later than the date on which the Commission terminates.
Upon receipt, the President would be required to print each report and make it available to the public upon request.
Study of Disability Determination Process
- Requires the Commissioner, from funds otherwise appropriated, to contract with the National Academy of Sciences, or some other independent entity to conduct a comprehensive study of the disability determination process under; titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, including the validity, reliability, and consistency of the Listing of Impairments with current scientific knowledge and standards, Effective not later than 90 days after the date of enactment.
The study would include an examination of the appropriateness of the definitions of disability under both titles a nd the advantages and disadvantages of alternative definitions.
Requires the Commissioner, through the appropriate entity, to issue an interim report and a final report of the findings and recommendations resulting from the study to the President and the Congress, not later than 18 months and 24 months,respectively, from the date of the contract for such study.
OTHER PROVISIONS OF INTEREST TO SSA
Regular Report to INS on Illegal Aliens
- Requires the Commissioner to report to Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) no less than four times a year, and upon the request of the INS, the name, address, and other identifying information of every individual the Commissioner knows to be in the United States illegally. In addition, States with State supplementary agreements under section 1616(a) must agree to do the same.
Prohibition on Payment of Federal Benefits to Certain Persons
- Generally prohibits payment of Federal benefits, including Social Security benefits, to any alien who is not a "qualified alien", i.e., an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, an alien whose deportation has been withheld under section 243(h) of the INA, an asylee, a refugee, or a parolee who has been paroled for a period of at least 1 year. However, this prohibition does not apply to Social Security benefits: (1) if payable to an alien lawfully present in the u.s.; (2) if nonpayment would contravene an international Social Security agreement; (3) if paymen t to an alien outside the U.S. is authorized under current law; or (4) if entitlement is based on an application filed in or before the month of enactment.
Expansion of the Federal Parent Locator Service
- Requires HHS to transmit to SSA, for verification purposes, certain information about individuals and employers maint ained under the Feder al Parent Locator Service. 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 service.
Collection and Use of SSNs for Use in Child Support Enforcement
- Provides that State child support enforcement procedures 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 decree, support order, or paternity determination or acknowledgement would have to be placed in the pertinent records. SSN's would also have to be recorded on death certificates.