[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 85 (Thursday, May 2, 2002)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 22021-22023]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-10842]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Part 416

RIN 0960-AF43


Access to Information Held by Financial Institutions

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

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SUMMARY: We are proposing new rules to implement a law that will 
enhance our access to bank account information of Supplemental Security 
Income (SSI) applicants and beneficiaries and other individuals whose 
income and resources we consider as being available to the applicant or 
beneficiary.

DATES: To consider your comments, we must receive them no later than 
July 1, 2002.

ADDRESSES: You may give us your comments by using: our Internet site 
facility (i.e., Social Security Online) at http://www.ssa.gov/regulations/, e-mail to regulations@ssa.gov, telefax to (410) 966-2830 
or by sending a letter to the Commissioner of Social Security, PO Box 
17703, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-7703. You may also deliver them to the 
Office of Process and Innovation Management, Social Security 
Administration, 2109 West Low Rise Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, 
Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on 
regular business days. Comments are posted on our Internet site, or you 
may inspect them on regular business days by making arrangements with 
the contact person shown in this preamble.
    Electronic Version: The electronic file of this document is 
available on the date of publication in the Federal Register on the 
Internet site for the Government Printing Office: http://
www.access.gpo.gov/su--docs/aces/aces140.html. It is also available on 
the Internet site for SSA (i.e., Social Security Online): http://www.ssa.gov/regulations/. Electronic copies of public comments may also 
be found on this site.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Georgia E. Myers, Regulations Officer, 
Office of Process and Innovation Management, 2109 West Low Rise 
Building, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, 
Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, regulations@ssa.gov, (410) 965-3632 or TTY 
(410) 966-5609 for information about this rule. For information on 
eligibility or filing for benefits, call our national toll-free 
numbers, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778, or visit our Internet 
Web site, Social Security Online, at http://www.ssa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 1631(e)(1)(B) of the Social Security Act (the Act) requires 
the Commissioner to verify all relevant information provided regarding 
the eligibility of SSI applicants and beneficiaries. Section 213 of the 
Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, Public Law 106-169, amended 
section 1631(e)(1)(B) of the Act to grant the Commissioner new 
authority with respect to verifying financial accounts. Under section 
213, the Commissioner may require each SSI applicant or beneficiary to 
provide us with permission to obtain any financial record (as defined 
in section 1101(2) of the Right to Financial Privacy Act) held by any 
financial institution (as defined in section 1101(1) of the Right to 
Financial Privacy Act) with respect to the applicant or beneficiary. 
This law also allows the Commissioner to require such permission from 
deemors (i.e. individuals whose income and resources we consider as 
being available to the applicant or beneficiary).
    This law requires us to tell you, or any other person whose income 
and resources we consider as being available to you, how we will use 
the permission and how long the permission lasts. It also allows us to 
request the information from financial institutions without furnishing 
a copy of the permission to the financial institution. We may request 
the information from financial institutions at any time we think it is 
needed to determine your eligibility or payment amount. Requests under 
this provision are considered to meet the requirements of the Right to 
Financial Privacy Act regarding identification and description of the 
financial record(s) to be disclosed.
    This law also allows us to deny your SSI eligibility or suspend 
your SSI eligibility if you, or any person whose income and resources 
we consider as being available to you, refuses to provide or cancels 
the permission.

Explanation of Proposed Changes

    The Commissioner is exercising her authority under section 213 of 
the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 by proposing new rules to make 
giving permission to contact financial

[[Page 22022]]

institutions a condition of SSI eligibility. Therefore, we propose to 
amend our regulations by adding a new section Sec. 416.207 to explain 
that in order to receive SSI benefits, you must give us permission to 
contact any financial institution, and request any financial records 
the financial institution may have for you. The section further 
explains that the permission to contact financial institutions is 
required from anyone whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you. This section also explains that the permission to 
contact financial institutions lasts until:
    (1) You cancel the permission in writing and provide the writing to 
us.
    (2) Anyone whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you cancels their permission in writing and provides the 
writing to us.
    (3) Your application for SSI is denied, and the denial is final.
    (4) You are no longer eligible for SSI.
    This section explains that we will ask financial institutions for 
this information when we think that it is necessary to determine SSI 
eligibility or payment amount. This section defines a financial 
institution as any bank, savings bank, credit card issuer, industrial 
loan company, trust company, savings association, building and loan, 
homestead association, credit union, consumer finance institution, or 
any other financial institution as defined in section 1101(1) of the 
Right to Financial Privacy Act. The section also defines a financial 
record as an original of, a copy of, or information known to have been 
derived from any record held by the financial institution pertaining to 
your relationship with the financial institution.
    In addition, we propose to revise current Sec. 416.200 to add the 
new section Sec. 416.207 as a reference, to redesignate current 
Sec. 416.1321 as Sec. 416.1320, and to add a new section Sec. 416.1321, 
Suspension for not giving us permission to contact financial 
institutions, to Subpart M as a reason for suspending SSI benefits.

Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866

    The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed these 
proposed rules in accordance with Executive Order (E.O.) 12866.

Clarity of these Proposed Rules

    Executive Order 12866 requires each agency to write all rules in 
plain language. We invite your comments on how to make these proposed 
rules easier to understand. For example:
     Have we organized the material to suit your needs?
     Are the requirements in the rules clearly stated?
     Do the rules contain technical language or jargon that 
isn't clear?
     Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, 
use of headings, paragraphing) make the rules easier to understand?
     Would more (but shorter) sections be better?
     Could we improve clarity by adding tables, lists or 
diagrams?
     What else could we do to make the rules easier to 
understand?

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that these proposed regulations will not have a 
significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities 
because they affect only individuals. Therefore, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis as provided in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as 
amended, is not required.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    These proposed rules contain reporting requirements at Sec. 416.207 
and Sec. 416.1321. The public reporting burden is accounted for in the 
Information Collection Requests for the various forms that the public 
uses to submit the information to SSA. Consequently, a 1-hour 
placeholder burden is being assigned to the specific reporting 
requirement(s) contained in these rules. We are seeking clearance of 
the burden referenced in these rules because the rules were not 
considered during the clearance of the forms. An Information Collection 
Request has been submitted to OMB. We are soliciting comments on the 
burden estimate; the need for the information; its practical utility; 
ways to enhance its quality, utility and clarity; and on ways to 
minimize the burden on respondents, including the use of automated 
collection techniques or other forms of information technology. 
Comments should be submitted to the Social Security Administration at 
the following address:
    Social Security Administration, Attn: SSA Reports Clearance 
Officer, Rm. 1-A-20 Operations Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, 
Baltimore, MD 21235-6401.
    Comments can be received for between 30 and 60 days after 
publication of this notice and will be most useful if received by SSA 
within 30 days of publication.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96-001, Social 
Security-Disability Insurance; 96.002, Social Security-Retirement 
Insurance; 96.004, Social Security-Survivors Insurance; and 96.006, 
Supplemental Security Income)

Lists of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 416

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aged, Blind, Disability 
benefits, Public Assistance programs, reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

    Dated: January 28, 2002.
Jo Anne B. Barnhart,
Commissioner of Social Security.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend part 
416, subparts B and M of Chapter III, Title 20 Code of Federal 
Regulations to read as follows:

PART 416--SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME FOR THE AGED, BLIND, AND 
DISABLED

Subpart B--[Amended]

    1. The authority citation for Subpart B of part 416 continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority: Secs.702(a)(5), 1110(b), 1602, 1611, 1614, 1615(c), 
1619(a), 1631, and 1634 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 
902(a)(5), 1310(b), 1381a, 1382, 1382c, 1382d(c), 1382h(a), 1383, 
and 1383c); secs. 211 and 212, Pub. L. 93-66, 87 Stat. 154 and 155 
(42 U.S.C. 1382 note); sec. 502(a), Pub. L. 94-241, 90 Stat. 268 (48 
U.S.C. 1681 note); sec. 2, Pub. L. 99-643, 100 Stat. 3574 (42 U.S.C. 
1382h note).

    2. Revise the last sentence of Sec. 416.200 to read as follows:


Sec. 416.200  Introduction.

* * * * *
    You continue to be eligible unless you lose your eligibility 
because you no longer meet the basic requirements or because of one of 
the reasons given in Secs. 416.207 through 416.216.
    3. Add new Sec. 416.207 under the undesignated center heading 
REASONS WHY YOU MAY NOT GET SSI BENEFITS FOR WHICH YOU ARE OTHERWISE 
ELIGIBLE, to read as follows:


Sec. 416.207  You do not give us permission to contact financial 
institutions.

    (a) To be eligible for SSI payments you must give SSA permission to 
contact any financial institution and request any financial records the 
financial institution may have about you. You must give us this 
permission when you apply for SSI payments or when we ask for it at a 
later time. You must also provide us with permission from anyone whose 
income and resources we consider as being available to you (see 
Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 416.1203, and 416.1204).
    (b) Financial institution means any:
    (1) Bank,

[[Page 22023]]

    (2) Savings bank,
    (3) Credit card issuer,
    (4) Industrial loan company,
    (5) Trust company,
    (6) Savings association,
    (7) Building and loan,
    (8) Homestead association,
    (9) Credit union,
    (10) Consumer finance institution, or
    (11) Any other financial institution as defined in section 1101(1) 
of the Right to Financial Privacy Act.
    (c) Financial record means an original of, a copy of, or 
information known to have been derived from any record held by the 
financial institution pertaining to your relationship with the 
financial institution.
    (d) We may ask any financial institution for information on any 
financial account concerning you. We may also ask for information on 
any financial accounts for anyone whose income and resources we 
consider as being available to you (see Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 
416.1203, and 416.1204).
    (e) We ask financial institutions for this information when we 
think that it is necessary to determine your SSI eligibility or payment 
amount.
    (f) Your permission to contact financial institutions, and the 
permission of anyone whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you (see Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 416.1203, and 
416.1204), lasts until one of the following happens:
    (1) You cancel your permission in writing and provide the writing 
to us.
    (2) Anyone whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you (see Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 416.1203, and 416.1204) 
cancels their permission in writing and provides the writing to us.
    (3) Your application for SSI is denied, and the denial is final. A 
denial is final when made, unless you appeal the denial timely as 
described in Secs. 416.1400 through 416.1499.
    (4) You are no longer eligible for SSI as described in 
Secs. 416.1331 through 416.1335.
    (g) If you don't give SSA permission to contact any financial 
institution and request any financial records about you when we think 
it is necessary to determine your SSI eligibility or payment amount, or 
if you cancel the permission, you cannot be eligible for SSI payments. 
Also, if anyone whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you (see Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 416.1203, and 416.1204) 
doesn't give SSA permission to contact any financial institution and 
request any financial records about that person when we think it is 
necessary to determine your eligibility or payment amount, or if that 
person cancels the permission, you cannot be eligible for SSI payments. 
This means that if you are applying for SSI payments, you cannot 
receive them. If you are receiving SSI payments, we will stop your 
payments.

Subpart M--[Amended]

    4. The authority citation for subpart M of part 416 continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 702(a)(5), 1611-1615, 1619, and 1631 of the 
Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1382-1382d, 1382h, and 
1383.

    5. Redesignate Sec. 416.1321 as Sec. 416.1320 and add new 
Sec. 416.1321 to read as follows:


Sec. 416.1321  Suspension for not giving us permission to contact 
financial institutions.

    (a) If you don't give us permission to contact any financial 
institution and request any financial records about you when we think 
it is necessary to determine your SSI eligibility or payment amount, or 
if you cancel the permission, you cannot be eligible for SSI payments 
(see Sec. 416.207) and we will stop your payments. Also, if anyone 
whose income and resources we consider as being available to you (see 
Secs. 416.1160, 416.1202, 416.1203 and 416.1204) doesn't give us 
permission to contact any financial institution and request any 
financial records about that person when we think it is necessary to 
determine your SSI eligibility or payment amount, or that person 
cancels the permission, you cannot be eligible for SSI payments and we 
will stop your payments.
    (b) We will suspend your payments starting with the month after the 
month in which we notify you in writing that:
    (1) You failed to give us permission to contact any financial 
institution and request any financial records about you, or
    (2) The person(s) whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you failed to give us such permission.
    (c) If you are otherwise eligible, we will start your benefits in 
the month following the month in which:
    (1) You give us permission to contact any financial institution and 
request any financial records about you, or
    (2) The person(s) whose income and resources we consider as being 
available to you gives us such permission.
    6. Revise references from ``Sec. 416.1321'' to read 
``Sec. 416.1320'' in the following sections:
    a. Sec. 416.421(a);
    b. Sec. 416.640(e)(5)(iii);
    c. Sec. 416.1231(b)(9);
    d. Sec. 416.1242(d);
    e. Sec. 416.1245(b)(5);
    f. Sec. 416.1247(b);
    g. Sec. 416.1335;
    h. Sec. 416.1337(b)(3)(ii);
    i. Sec. 416.1618(d)(3)(i);
    j. Sec. 416.1618(d)(3)(ii); and
    k. Sec. 416.1618(d)(3)(iv).

[FR Doc. 02-10842 Filed 5-1-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P