[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 120 (Friday, June 20, 2008)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 35100-35102]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-13789]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404 and 416

[Docket Number: SSA-2008-0031]
RIN 0960-AG68


Technical Amendments to Definition of Persons Closely Approaching 
Retirement Age

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We propose to modify our rules on age used in determining 
disability under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (``The 
Act'') to revise the definition of persons ``closely approaching 
retirement age'' from ``60-64'' to ``60 or older.'' The purpose of 
these changes is to acknowledge that we make disability determinations 
for individuals over age 64. These proposed changes are technical 
corrections that would help to explain how we currently determine 
disability for such individuals and would not have any substantive 
effect.

DATES: To ensure that we consider your comments, we must receive them 
no later than August 19, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any one of four methods--
Internet, facsimile, regular mail, or hand-delivery. Commenters should 
not submit the same comments multiple times or by more than one method. 
Regardless of which of the following methods you choose, please state 
that your comments refer to Docket No. SSA-2008-0031 to ensure that we 
can associate your comments with the correct regulation:
    1. Federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. (This 
is the most expedient method for submitting your comments and we 
strongly urge you to use it.) In the ``Comment or Submission'' section 
of the webpage, type ``SSA-2008-0031,'' select ``Go,'' and then click 
``Send a Comment or Submission.'' The Federal eRulemaking portal will 
issue you a tracking number when you submit a comment.
    2. Telefax to (410) 966-2830.
    3. Letter to the Commissioner of Social Security, P.O. Box 17703, 
Baltimore, MD 21235-7703.
    4. Deliver your comments to the Office of Regulations, Social 
Security Administration, 922 Altmeyer Building, 6401 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. 
on regular business days.
    All comments are posted on the Federal eRulemaking portal, although 
they may not appear for several days after receipt of the comment. You 
may also inspect the comments on regular business days by arranging 
with the contact person shown in this preamble.
    Caution: All comments we receive from members of the public are 
available for public viewing on the Federal eRulemaking portal at 
http://www.regulations.gov. You should be careful to include in your 
comments only information that you wish to make publicly available on 
the Internet. We strongly urge you not to include any personal 
information, such as your Social Security number or medical 
information, in your comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Helen Droddy, Regulations Analyst, 934 
Altmeyer Building, Social Security Administration, 6401 Security 
Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235-6401, (410) 965-1483, for information 
about this notice. For information on eligibility or filing for 
benefits, call our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-
800-325-0778, or visit our Internet site, Social Security Online, at 
http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Version

    The electronic file of this document is available on the date of 
publication in

[[Page 35101]]

the Federal Register at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/index.html.

Change to Definition of Persons ``Closely Approaching Retirement Age''

    In an effort to keep our regulations current, we regularly review 
our regulations to eliminate or modify any rules affected by legal or 
policy changes. Our current rules define individuals ``closely 
approaching retirement age'' as those who are ``age 60-64.'' 20 CFR 
404.1563(e) (2007); 20 CFR 416.963(e) (2007).
    An individual can establish entitlement to benefits based on 
disability or blindness until the month in which he or she attains full 
retirement age under title II. When we first published these rules, we 
did not make disability determinations for individuals who were over 64 
years of age because age 65 was full retirement age under title II. In 
1983, Congress legislated a gradual increase in ``full retirement age'' 
(``FRA'') from 65 to 67. As a result, we are now processing disability 
claims for individuals who are over age 64.
    Under title XVI, we sometimes must determine whether individuals 
age 65 or older are disabled in order to determine, among other things, 
benefit eligibility of ``qualified'' aliens, eligibility for certain 
State supplements, the applicability of work incentive provisions, or 
the appropriate evaluation of income and resources. Currently, when we 
determine whether such individuals are disabled, we generally use the 
same rules as we do for individuals who are age 60-64.
    We propose to modify our rules at Sec. Sec.  404.1563(e); 
404.1568(d)(4); 416.963(e); 416.968(d)(4); and part 404, subpart P, 
appendix 2, Sec. Sec.  202.00(f), and 203.00(c) to include individuals 
over age 64 in the subcategory of those ``closely approaching 
retirement age'' for benefits based on disability under titles II and 
XVI of the Act. This modification would make the definition consistent 
with our definition of FRA and acknowledge that we make disability 
determinations for individuals over age 64 under title XVI. The 
proposed changes are technical corrections and would not have any 
substantive effect.
    In 2005, we published an NPRM that would have redefined all of the 
age categories. However, this NPRM does not incorporate the changes 
suggested in the 2005 NPRM nor modify our existing policy in any 
manner.

Clarity of These Proposed Rules

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

When Will We Start To Use These Rules?

    We will not use these rules until we evaluate the public comments 
we receive on them, determine whether they should be issued as final 
rules, and issue final rules in the Federal Register. If we publish 
final rules, we will explain in the preamble how we will apply them, 
and summarize and respond to the public comments. Until the effective 
date of any final rules, we will continue to use our current rules.

Regulatory Procedures

Executive Order 12866, as Amended

    We have consulted with the Office of Management and Budget 
(``OMB'') and determined that these proposed rules do not meet the 
criteria for a significant regulatory action under Executive Order 
12866, as amended. Thus, they are not subject to OMB review.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

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

Paperwork Reduction Act

    These regulations impose no reporting or recordkeeping requirements 
subject to OMB clearance.

(Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 96.001 Social 
Security--Disability Insurance; 96.006 Supplemental Security 
Income.)

List of Subjects

20 CFR Part 404

    Administrative practice and procedure; Blind; Disability benefits; 
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance; Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements; Social security.

20 CFR Part 416

    Administrative practice and procedure; Aged: Blind; Disability 
benefits; Public assistance programs; Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements; Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

    Dated: June 12, 2008.
Michael J. Astrue,
Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend 20 CFR 
parts 404 and 416 as follows:

PART 404--FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE 
(1950--)

Subpart P--[Amended]

    1. The authority citation for subpart P of part 404 continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 202, 205(a), (b), and (d)-(h), 216(i), 221(a) 
and (i), 222(c), 223, 225, and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act 
(42 U.S.C. 402, 405(a), (b), and (d)-(h), 416(i), 421(a) and (i), 
422(c), 423, 425, and 902(a)(5)); sec. 211(b), Pub. L. 104-193, 110 
Stat. 2105, 2189; sec. 202, Pub. L. 108-203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 
U.S.C. 902 note).

    2. Amend Sec.  404.1563 to revise paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.1563  Your age as a vocational factor.

* * * * *
    (e) Person of advanced age. We consider that at advanced age (age 
55 or older), age significantly affects a person's ability to adjust to 
other work. We have special rules for persons of advanced age and for 
persons in this category who are closely approaching retirement age 
(age 60 or older). See Sec.  404.1568(d)(4).
* * * * *
    3. Amend Sec.  404.1568 to revise the fifth sentence of paragraph 
(d)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.1568  Skill requirements.

* * * * *
    (d) Skills that can be used in other work (transferability). * * *
    (4) Transferability of skills for individuals of advanced age. * * 
* If you are closely approaching retirement age (age 60 or older) and 
you have a severe impairment(s) that limits you to no more than light 
work, we will find that you have skills that are transferable

[[Page 35102]]

to skilled or semiskilled light work only if the light work is so 
similar to your previous work that you would need to make very little, 
if any, vocational adjustment in terms of tools, work processes, work 
settings, or the industry. * * *
    4. Amend part 404, subpart P, appendix 2, as follows:
    a. In section 202.00, revise paragraph (f) to read as follows:
    b. In section 203.00, revise the third sentence of paragraph (c) to 
read as follows:

Appendix 2 to Subpart P of Part 404--Medical-Vocational Guidelines

* * * * *
    202.00 Maximum sustained work capability limited to light work 
as a result of severe medically determinable impairment(s).
* * * * *
    (f) For a finding of transferability of skills to light work for 
individuals of advanced age who are closely approaching retirement 
age (age 60 or older), there must be very little, if any, vocational 
adjustment required in terms of tools, work processes, work 
settings, or the industry.
* * * * *
    203.00 Maximum sustained work capability limited to medium work 
as a result of severe medically determinable impairment(s).
* * * * *
    (c) * * * Further, for individuals closely approaching 
retirement age (60 or older) with a work history of unskilled work 
and with marginal education or less, a finding of disabled is 
appropriate.

* * * * *

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

Subpart I--[Amended]

    5. The authority citation for subpart I of part 416 continues to 
read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 221(m), 702 (a)(5), 1611, 1614, 1619, 1631(a), 
(c), and (d)(1), and (p), and 1633 of the Social Security Act (42 
U.S.C. 421(m), 902(a)(5), 1382, 1382c, 1382h, 1383(a), (c), and 
(d)(1), and (p), and 1383(b); secs. 4(c) and 5, 6(c)-(e), 14(a), and 
15, Pub. L. 98-460, 98 Stat. 1794, 1801, 1802, and 1808 (42 U.S.C. 
421 note, 423 note, and 1382h note).

    6. Amend Sec.  416.963 to revise paragraph (e) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.963  Your age as a vocational factor.

* * * * *
    (e) Person of advanced age. We consider that at advanced age (age 
55 or older), age significantly affects a person's ability to adjust to 
other work. We have special rules for persons of advanced age and for 
persons in this category who are closely approaching retirement age 
(age 60 or older). See Sec.  416.968(d)(4).
* * * * *
    7. Amend Sec.  416.968 to revise the fifth sentence of paragraph 
(d)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.968  Skill requirements.

* * * * *
    (d) Skills that can be used in other work (transferability). * * *
    (4) Transferability of skills for individuals of advanced age. * * 
* If you are closely approaching retirement age (age 60 or older) and 
you have a severe impairment(s) that limits you to no more than light 
work, we will find that you have skills that are transferable to 
skilled or semiskilled light work only if the light work is so similar 
to your previous work that you would need to make very little, if any, 
vocational adjustment in terms of tools, work processes, work settings, 
or the industry. * * *

 [FR Doc. E8-13789 Filed 6-19-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P