[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 138 (Friday, July 18, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 41881-41883]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-16782]


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SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

20 CFR Parts 404 and 416

[Docket No. SSA-2014-0034]
RIN 0960-AH67


Extension of Expiration 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 for one year our pilot program that 
authorizes the agency to set the time and place for a hearing before an 
administrative law judge (ALJ). Extending the pilot program continues 
our commitment to improve the efficiency of our hearing process and 
provide accurate, high-quality decisions for claimants. The current 
pilot program will expire on August 9, 2014. In this final rule, we are 
extending the expiration date to August 10, 2015. We are making no 
other substantive changes.

DATES: This final rule is effective July 18, 2014.

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. Toward that end, we began a 
pilot program 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. Because we expect to continue to face 
significant challenges in dealing with the historically large number of 
hearing requests, 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). 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

[[Page 41882]]

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. On July 29, 
2013, we extended the sunset date of the program until August 9, 
2014.\1\ (78 FR 45451).
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    \1\ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-29/pdf/2013-18143.pdf.
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Explanation of Extension

    During the pilot program, we track ALJ productivity closely. We 
work with our ALJs to address any concerns about our hearing process. 
In situations where hearings were not being promptly scheduled, we 
worked with ALJs to correct these situations, and we continue to work 
with some ALJs on scheduling hearings with the expectation of using all 
authorities available. To date, our efforts to correct situations have 
been largely successful. We our retaining this authority in order to 
provide us with the flexibility we need to manage the hearing process 
appropriately. We consider the pilot program an important tool to 
better manage the number of hearings held and keep our hearing process 
as efficient as possible in our overall effort to reduce hearing 
backlogs.
    During this extension of the pilot program, we will continue to 
monitor the productivity of ALJs, and we will continue 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 10, 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.

Part 405

    We are making one change to Part 405 for consistency with this 
final rule.

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). 
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. Thus, OMB did not review the 
final rule.

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

    These rules do not create any new or affect any existing 
collections and, therefore, do not require Office of Management and 
Budget 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 405

    Administrative practice and procedure, Blind, Disability benefits, 
Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance, Public assistance 
programs, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Social Security, 
Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

20 CFR Part 416

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

Carolyn W. Colvin,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we are amending 20 CFR 
chapter III, parts 404, 405, and 416, 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 10, 2015, unless we terminate them earlier or 
extend them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal 
Register.

PART 405--ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW PROCESS FOR ADJUDICATING INITIAL 
DISABILITY CLAIMS

Subpart D--[Amended]

0
3. The authority citation for part 405 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: Secs. 201(j), 205(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (s), 221, 
223(a)-(b), 702(a)(5), 1601, 1602, 1631, and 1633 of the Social 
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 401(j), 405(a)-(b), (d)-(h), and (s), 421,

[[Page 41883]]

423(a)-(b), 902(a)(5), 1381, 1381a, 1383, and 1383b).

0
4. In Sec.  405.315, revise the second sentence in paragraph (e) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  405.315  Time and place for a hearing before an administrative 
law judge.

* * * * *
    (e) Pilot program. * * * These provisions will no longer be 
effective on August 10, 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
5. 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
6. 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 10, 2015, unless we terminate them earlier or 
extend them beyond that date by notice of a final rule in the Federal 
Register.

[FR Doc. 2014-16782 Filed 7-17-14; 8:45 am]
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