[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 145 (Monday, July 29, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 45451-45452]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-18143]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404 and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2013-0016]
RIN 0960-AH58


Extension of Effective Date for Temporary Pilot Program Setting 
the Time and Place for a Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: We are extending our pilot program that authorizes the agency 
to set the time and place for a hearing before an administrative law 
judge (ALJ). This final rule will extend the pilot program for 1 year. 
The extension of the pilot program continues our commitment to improve 
the efficiency of our hearing process and maintain a hearing process 
that results in accurate, high-quality decisions for claimants. The 
current pilot program will expire on August 9, 2013. In this final 
rule, we are extending the effective date to August 9, 2014. We are 
making no other substantive changes.

DATES: This final rule is effective July 29, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rainbow Forbes, Social Security 
Administration, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3260, 703-
605-8100 for information about this final rule. For information on 
eligibility for 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:

Background

    Over the past several years, one of our highest priorities has been 
to improve the efficiency of our hearing process for the Old Age, 
Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) programs under title II of 
the Social Security Act (Act) and the Supplemental Security Income 
(SSI) program under title XVI of the Act. We intended the pilot program 
we adopted in July 2010 (75 FR 39154), under which the agency, rather 
than the ALJ, may set the time and place of the hearing under certain 
circumstances, to be part of our efforts to improve the efficiency of 
the hearing process. Since that time, we continue to face significant 
challenges in dealing with the historically large number of hearing 
requests. Over the next several years, we anticipate that requests for 
hearings before ALJs will continue to remain high. Therefore, we must 
maintain programs and policies that can provide us with the flexibility 
we need to improve the efficiency of our hearing process.
    On November 10, 2008, we published a notice of proposed rulemaking 
to amend our rules to allow the agency to set the time and place for a 
hearing before an ALJ. (73 FR 66564). At that time, we explained that 
we would continue to monitor ALJ productivity closely, and if hearings 
were not being scheduled in a prompt and professional manner, we would 
use all existing authorities to correct the situation. Although we 
expected limit use of the rule, we planned to monitor the success of 
the regulation to ensure that it did not produce unintended 
consequences.
    Following receipt of public comments, we issued a final rule on 
July 8, 2010. (75 FR 39154). Under the rule, the agency acquired the 
authority to set the time and place for a hearing before an ALJ. In the 
rule, we explained that we would implement our authority to set the 
time and place for a hearing before an ALJ as a temporary pilot 
program. Therefore, we included in sections 404.936(h) and 416.1436(h) 
of the final rule a provision that the pilot program would end on 
August 9, 2013, unless we decided to either terminate the program 
earlier, or extend it beyond that date by publication of a final rule 
in the Federal Register.

Explanation of Extension

    In establishing the final rule establishing the pilot program in 
2010, we hoped to determine whether providing us with the authority to 
set the time and place of the hearing would allow us to better manage 
the number of hearings held and keep our hearing process as efficient 
as possible. During the 3 year pilot program, we tracked ALJ 
productivity closely. In situations where hearings were not being 
promptly scheduled, we worked with ALJs to correct these situations. To 
date, our efforts to work with our ALJs to correct situations in which 
we may have otherwise had to exercise the authority provided for in 
these rules has been successful. As a result, we have not been required 
to exercise our authority to schedule hearings. Nevertheless, we 
believe that we should continue the authority for the pilot program in 
order to provide us with the flexibility we need to manage the hearing 
process appropriately. We consider the pilot program a potentially 
important component in our overall effort to reduce hearing backlogs.
    By extending the pilot program an additional year, we will continue 
to monitor the productivity of ALJs and to work with our ALJs to 
address any concerns regarding our hearing process. Accordingly, we are 
extending our authority to set the time and place for a hearing before 
an ALJ for another year, until August 9, 2014. As before, we are 
reserving the authority to end the program earlier, or to extend it by 
publishing a final rule in the Federal Register.

Regulatory Procedures

Justification for Issuing Final Rule Without Notice and Comment

    We follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking

[[Page 45452]]

procedures specified in 5 U.S.C. 553 when developing regulations. 
Section 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5). 
Generally, the APA requires that an agency provide prior notice and 
opportunity for public comment before issuing a final rule. The APA 
provides exceptions to its notice and public comment procedures when an 
agency finds there is good cause for dispensing with such procedures 
because they are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public 
interest. We have determined that good cause exists for dispensing with 
the notice and public comment procedures for this rule. 5 U.S.C. 
553(b)(B). This final rule only extends the date on which the pilot 
program will no longer be effective. It makes no substantive changes to 
our rules. Our current regulations expressly provide that we may extend 
the expiration date of the pilot program by notice of a final rule in 
the Federal Register. Therefore, we have determined that opportunity 
for prior comment is unnecessary, and we are issuing this rule as a 
final rule.
    In addition, for the reasons cited above, we find good cause for 
dispensing with the 30-day delay in the effective date of this final 
rule. 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). We are not making any substantive changes in 
our rules. Without an extension of the expiration date for the pilot 
program, we will not have the flexibility we need to ensure the 
efficiency of our hearing process. Therefore, we find it is in the 
public interest to make this final rule effective on the publication 
date.

Executive Order 12866 as Supplemented by Executive Order 13563

    We consulted with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and 
determined that this final rule does not meet the criteria for a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866, as 
supplemented by Executive Order 13563.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    We certify that this final rule will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it 
affects individuals only. Therefore, the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as 
amended, does not require us to prepare a regulatory flexibility 
analysis.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    This final rule does not create any new or affect any existing 
collections and, therefore, does not require OMB approval under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act.

(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; 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: July 23, 2013.
Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, we are revising subpart J 
of Part 404 and subpart N of part 416 of title 20 of the Code of 
Federal Regulations as set forth below:

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

Subpart J--[Amended].

0
1. The authority citation for subpart J of part 404 continues to read 
as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 201(j), 204(f), 205(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (j), 
221, 223(i), 225, and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 
U.S.C. 401(j), 404(f), 405(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (j), 421, 423(i), 
425, and 902(a)(5)); sec. 5, Pub. L. 97-455, 96 Stat. 2500 (42 
U.S.C. 405 note); secs. 5, 6(c)-(e), and 15, Pub. L. 98-460, 98 
Stat. 1802 (42 U.S.C. 421 note); sec. 202, Pub. L. 108-203, 118 
Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).

0
2. In Sec.  404.936, revise the second sentence in paragraph (h) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  404.936  Time and place for a hearing before an administrative 
law judge.

* * * * *
    (h) Pilot program. * * * These provisions will no longer be 
effective on August 9, 2014, unless we terminate them earlier or extend 
them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal 
Register.

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

Subpart N--[Amended]

0
3. The authority citation for subpart N of part 416 continues to read 
as follows:

    Authority:  Secs. 702(a)(5), 1631, and 1633 of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 902(a)(5), 1383, and 1383b); sec. 202, Pub. 
L. 108-203, 118 Stat. 509 (42 U.S.C. 902 note).

0
4. In Sec.  416.1436, revise the second sentence in paragraph (h) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  416.1436  Time and place for a hearing before an administrative 
law judge.

* * * * *
    (h) Pilot program. * * * These provisions will no longer be 
effective on August 9, 2014, unless we terminate them earlier or extend 
them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal 
Register.
[FR Doc. 2013-18143 Filed 7-26-13; 8:45 am]
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