[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 145 (Monday, July 29, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 45459-45460]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-18145]


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

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404 and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2013-0006]
RIN 0960-AH56


Extension of Sunset Date for Attorney Advisor Program

AGENCY: Social Security Administration.

ACTION: Final rule.

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

SUMMARY: We are extending for 2 years our rule authorizing attorney 
advisors to conduct certain prehearing procedures and to issue fully 
favorable decisions. The current rule will expire on August 9, 2013. In 
this final rule, we are extending the sunset date to August 7, 2015. We 
are making no other substantive changes.

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

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan Swansiger, Social Security 
Administration, 5107 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3260, 703-
605-8500 for information about this final rule. 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:

Background of the Attorney Advisor Program

    On August 9, 2007, we issued an interim final rule permitting some 
attorney advisors to conduct certain prehearing procedures and issue 
decisions that are fully favorable when the documentary record 
warrants. 72 FR 44763. We instituted this practice to provide more 
timely service to the increasing number of applicants for Social 
Security disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments 
based on disability. We considered the public comments we received on 
the interim final rule and, on March 3, 2008, we issued the rule 
without change as a final rule. 73 FR 11349. Under this rule, some 
attorney advisors may develop claims and, in appropriate cases, issue 
fully favorable decisions before a hearing.
    We originally intended the attorney advisor program to be only a 
temporary modification to our procedures. Therefore, we included in 
sections 404.942(g) and 416.1442(g) of the interim final rule a 
provision that the program would end on August 10, 2009, unless we 
decided to either terminate the rule earlier or extend it beyond that 
date by publication of a final rule in the Federal Register. On July 
13, 2009, we published a final rule that extended the sunset date of 
the program until August 10, 2011. 74 FR 33327. We then published 
another extension on April 4, 2011, which extended the sunset date of 
the program until August 9, 2013. 76 FR 18383.

Explanation of Extension

    When we published the final rules reinstating the attorney advisor 
program in 2008, we discussed a variety of concerns about the program 
and we stated our intent to closely monitor it and to make changes to 
the program if it did not meet our expectations. 73 FR 11349, 11350, 
11351, and 11352.
    As we explained in the final rule in 2008, the number of requests 
for hearings has increased significantly in recent years, and based on 
this trend, we anticipate that higher levels of request for hearings 
will continue. The attorney advisor program has proven to be an 
invaluable tool in our efforts to reduce the backlog of pending hearing 
requests.
    Accordingly, we have decided to extend the attorney advisor rule 
for another 2 years, until August 7, 2015. 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 
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). 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). Good cause exists because this final rule only 
extends the sunset date of an existing rule. It makes no substantive 
changes to the rule. The current regulations expressly provide that we 
may extend or terminate this rule. Therefore, we have determined that 
opportunity for prior comment is unnecessary, and we are issuing this 
rule as a final rule.

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; Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements; Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

    Dated: July 22, 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)

[[Page 45460]]

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.  404.942, revise paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  404.942  Prehearing proceedings and decisions by attorney 
advisors.

* * * * *
    (g) Sunset provision. The provisions of this section will no longer 
be effective on August 7, 2015, 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 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.  416.1442, revise paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  416.1442  Prehearing proceedings and decisions by attorney 
advisors.

* * * * *
    (g) Sunset provision. The provisions of this section will no longer 
be effective on August 7, 2015, unless we terminate them earlier or 
extend them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal 
Register.

[FR Doc. 2013-18145 Filed 7-26-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4191-02-P