Date: September 26, 1995
THE SENATE PASSES H.R. 4
THE "WORK OPPORTUNITY ACT OF 1995"
On September 19, 1995, tile Senate passed its version of a welfare reform bill--H.R. 4, the "Work Opportunity Act of 1995" by a vote of 87 to 12. The bill reflects the Dole amendment to the bill reported by the Senate Finance Committee on June 8, 1995 (See Legislative Bulletin 104-7) and subsequent amendments offered and passed on tile Senate floor.
The House passed its version of the bill, "The Personal Responsibility Act of 1995," on March 24, 1995 (See Legislative Bulletin 104-4). Both the Senate and the House must now appoint conferees and schedule a conference to reconcile the differences between tile Senate- and House-passed bills.
The Senate-passed bill contains the following SSA-related provisions:
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) PROVISIONS
Eliminate SSI Benefits for Individuals Disabled by Drug Addiction or Alcoholism (DAA)
- Prohibits SSI eligibility, including cash SSI benefits and Medicaid coverage, to those individuals whose DAA is a contributing factor material to their disability.
- Creates a new category--SSI disability beneficiary with a DAA condition. All such beneficiaries who have a DAA condition would be subject to representative payee requirements. including preference to organizations as payees. and would be referred for substance abuse treatment. Representative payee requirements would apply to current SSI disabled beneficiaries determined to have a DAA condition at their first continuing disability review after enactment and to SSI beneficiaries who attain age 65 in a manner determined appropriate by SSA.
- Repeals the current law provis ion that requiresdemonstration projects oninnovative approaches for referral, monitoring, and treatment of SSI DAA beneficiaries.
- Requires notification of affected SSI DAAs within 90 days of enactment. DAAs who wish to reapply for SSI benefits must do so within 4 months after enactment. The Commissioner would be required to make a determination of their eligibility within 1 year after enactment.
Effective upon enactment for new applicants. SSI eligibility of DAAs on the rolls at the time of enactment would continue to receive benefits until January 1, 1997.
Additional Accountability Requirements for Payees of SSI Beneficiaries
- Requires SSA to advise representative payees of specific examples of appropriate ways to spend SSI cash benefits and the proper role of a representative payee.
- Requires payees to document expenditures and keep contemporaneous records of expenditures.
- Removes current requirements for annual reports by payees and modifies current provi sions for review of reports to apply to a sample of reports.
- Provides that the Commiss ioner, 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 only be used for:
- education and job skills training;
- special equipment or housing modification; and
- appropriate therapy and rehabilitation.
Funds contained in, and interest earned on such account would be excluded from the determination of the individual's resources under SSI.
Effective upon enactment.
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 determinable physical or mental impairment which results in marked, and severe functional limitations and which can be expected to last for a continuous period of 12 months or to result in death.
Eliminates references to maladaptive 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 after 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 redetermination 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; such recipients would be held harmless for any benefits paid until such date.
Continuing Disability Reviews and Redeterminations
- Requires the Commissioner to review continuing eligibility, at least once every 3 years, tile eligibility for SSI benefits of each individual under age 18 whose condition is not expected to improve, The medical improvement reviewstandard (MIRS) would be applicable; and at the time of review, the parent/guardian must present evidence that the child is receiving appropriate treatment.
- Requires the Commissioner to redetermine theeligibility of an SSI disability recipient during the 1-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 benefits of an individual whose low birth weight is a contributing factor material to the finding that such individual is disabled . These reviews must be conducted not later than 12 months after the birth of the individual. The MIRS would be applicable at the time of the review and the parent/guardian must present evidence that the child is receiving appropriate treatment.
- These amendments would apply to benefits for months beginning on or after the date of enactment of this Act, without regard to whether regulations have been issued to implement them.
Limited Eligibility of Noncitizens for SSI Benefits
- Provides generally that noncitizens would be ineligible for SSI, with the
- noncitizens admitted to the United States as refugees under section 207 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), or as asylees under section 208 of the INA, or whose deportations have been withheld under section 243(h) of the INA would remain eligible for SSI during the first 5 years after their arrival in the United States;
- noncitizens who are United States military veterans who were honorably discharged and spouses and unmarried dependent children of such veterans who are lawfully present in the United States;
- noncitizens who have worked sufficient quarters of coverage to be fully insured under title II; and
- noncitizens who have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty if the application of the prohibition of elig ibility would endanger such individual.
Requires notification of all noncitizens affected by the provision within 1 month from date of enactment. Any noncitizen who desires to reapply for benefits after such notification would be required to do so within 4 months after enactment, and the Commissioner would be required ta make a determination of their eligibility within I year after enactment.
Effective upon enacunent for new applicants. The SSI eligibility of aliens on the rolls at the time of enactment who do not meet one of the exceptions would continue until January 1, 1997.
- Repeals current-law SSI sponsor-to-alien deeming provisions effective upon enactmnent.
- Deems the full amount of a sponsor's and sponsor's spouse's income and resources to an individual regardless of whether he or she has become a u.s. citizen. (Deeming would not apply to noncitizens eligible for SSI.) Deeming would continue for 5 years after the first day the individual is lawfully pre sent in the United States or until the date specified in the sponsorship affidavits of support, whichever period is longer. Effective upon enactment.
- Requires determination of individuals' ability to provide themselves with food and shelter in the absence of SSl benefits taking into account their other income, including sponsors' contributions. If determined to be unable to meet those needs, only the amount of the sponsors' income and resources actually provided would be deemed. Effective upon enactment.
- Requires sponsors' affidavits of support to included sponsors ' agreement to
support the individuals until they have worked 40 quarters in the United States
even if they become U.S. citizens. Effective with respect to new affidavits
entered into 90 days after enactment.
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 transition 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 the ir State supplementary payment programs. Effective for calendar quarters beginning after September 1995.
Receipt of Benefits in Two or More States
- Prohibits SSI eligibility for 10 years for individuals 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 SSI to provide law enforcement personnel, upon their request, the addresses of SSI recipients involved in, or who have information concerning parole or probation violations, other criminal activities, or criminal investigations. Effective upon enactment.
- Provides that, if an individual is found ineligible for benefits under any public assistance program, including SSI, due to a finding of fraud, any other public assistance benefits for which he or she is eligible would not be increased. Effective upon enactment.
- Provides that non-custodial parents who are more than 2 months delinquent in paying child support arc ineligible to receive any means-tested Federal benefits. A non-custodial parent who becomes delinquent in child support a second or any subsequent time. would not be eligible to receive any means-tested Federal benefits for a 2-year period, beginning on the date that such parent failed to meet the terms of support. 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 otherwise appropriated for SSA. 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 should be appointed within 60 days after the date of enactment and serve for the life of the Commission. i.e., a 2-year period.
Requires the Commiss ion 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 recommendations 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 no 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 Detemination 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 dctennination process under titles II and XVI of Ole Social Security Act, including the validity, reliability, equity, and consistency of the Listing of Impairments with current scientific knowledge and standards. Effective not later than 180 days after the date of enactment.
The study would include an examination of the appropriateness of the definitions of disability under buth titles and 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 12 months and 24 months, respectively, from the date of the contract for such study.
OTHER SSA-RELATED PROVISIONS
Regular Report to INS on lIIegal Aliens
- a Requires the Commissioner to report to INS no less than four times a year, and upan 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.
Development of Prototype of Counterfeit-Resistant Social Security Card
Requires SSA to develop a prototype of a counterfeit-resistant Social Security card made of plastic or polyester which uses security features, such as magnetic stripes, holograms, etc. and provides reliable proof of citizenship or legal resident alien status. SSA is to conduct a study and within I year of the date of enactment, issue a report to Congress on the different methods of improving the Social Security card application process. The study is to evaluate the cost and workload implications of issuing a counterfeit-resistant card for all individuals over a 3. 5. and 10-year per iod. In addition, the study is to evaluate the feasibility and cost implications of imposing a user fee for replacement cards. Appropriations would be authorized from the OAS! trust fund to fund the study.
Expansion of the Federal Parent Locator Service
- Requires HilS to transmit to SSA. for verification purposes, certain information about individuals and employers maintained under the Federal Parent Locator Service (To be established by October I . 1998). 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 employeridentification number of employers. SSA would be reimbursed by HilS for the cost of this verification service.
Collection and Use of SSNs for Use in Child Support Enforcement
- Effective October 1, 1996, 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 dec ree, support order, or paternity determination or acknowledgement would have to be placed in the pertinent records. SSN's would also have to be reco rded on death certificates.
Prohibition on Payment of Federal Benefits to Certain Persons
- Prohibits payment of Federal benefits including Social Security benefits, with some exceptions, to any person who is not lawfully present in the United States. A person lawfully present in the U.S. includes a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident alien, an alien whose deportation has been withheld under section 243(h) of the INA, an asylec, a refugee, a parolee who has been paroled for a period of at least I year, a national, or a national of the U.S. (as defined in section IOl(a)(17) of the INA).