Removing the Waiting Period for Entitlement to Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits for Individuals With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

CourtSocial Security Administration
Citation86 FR 48020
Publication Date27 Aug 2021
Record Number2021-18435
Federal Register, Volume 86 Issue 164 (Friday, August 27, 2021)
[Federal Register Volume 86, Number 164 (Friday, August 27, 2021)]
                [Rules and Regulations]
                [Pages 48020-48021]
                From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
                [FR Doc No: 2021-18435]
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                SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
                20 CFR Part 404
                [Docket No. SSA-2021-0017]
                RIN 0960-AI59
                Removing the Waiting Period for Entitlement to Social Security
                Disability Insurance Benefits for Individuals With Amyotrophic Lateral
                Sclerosis
                AGENCY: Social Security Administration (SSA).
                ACTION: Final rule.
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                SUMMARY: In accordance with the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of
                2019, as amended, this final rule eliminates the 5-month waiting period
                for the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program for
                individuals with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) who were approved
                for SSDI benefits on or after July 23, 2020.
                DATES: This final rule is effective August 27, 2021.
                FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mary Quatroche, Director, Office of
                Vocational, Evaluation and Process Policy, Office of Disability Policy,
                Social Security Administration, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD
                21235-6401, (410) 966-4794. 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
                 Under the SSDI program, individuals who have been found to be
                disabled are subject to a 5-month waiting period before they are
                entitled to their first payment. The waiting period begins with the
                first full month the individual meets all the eligibility factors
                covered by the application and ends 5 months after that date. Subject
                to some exceptions, the disabled individual is entitled to begin
                receiving payments beginning with the first full calendar month after
                the waiting period in which all other requirements are met.\1\
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                 \1\ Section 223(c)(2) of the Social Security Act; 20 CFR
                404.315(a)(4).
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                 The waiting period cannot begin more than 17 months before the
                month in which the individual files an application for SSDI and meets
                the disability insured status requirements.\2\ As an example, consider
                an individual whose disability began on April 2, 2020, based on an
                application for SSDI benefits filed on May 2, 2020. If approved for
                SSDI, the individual's 5-month waiting period would begin in May 2020
                and end in September 2020, and the individual would be entitled to
                benefits beginning with October 2020 (that is, the first full month
                after completion of the waiting period).
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                 \2\ Id.
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                 On December 22, 2020, the President signed into law the ALS
                Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019 (ALS Act),\3\ and on March 23,
                2021, the President signed into law an act to make a technical
                correction to the ALS Act.\4\ Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease,
                ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells
                in the brain and spinal cord. There is no known cure for ALS.\5\ Before
                the enactment of the ALS Act, individuals with ALS were subject to the
                5-month waiting period for receiving SSDI benefits. The ALS Act
                eliminated the 5-month waiting period for individuals who have been
                medically determined to have ALS.
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                 \3\ Public Law 116-250, 134 Stat. 1128, available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/578.
                 \4\ Public Law 117-3, 135 Stat. 246, available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/579.
                 \5\ 166 Cong. Rec. H6988, December 8, 2020, https://www.congress.gov/congressional-record/volume-166/house-section/page/H6988-6991.
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                 The ALS Act originally applied to individuals with ALS who filed an
                application for SSDI benefits on or after December 23, 2020.\6\ The
                technical correction to the ALS Act amended the effective date of the
                law. Under the technical correction, the elimination of the 5-month
                waiting period applies to individuals with ALS whose applications for
                SSDI benefits were approved after the date that is 5 months before the
                date of enactment of the ALS Act on December 22, 2020. In practical
                terms, this means the elimination of the 5-month waiting period applies
                to individuals with ALS whose applications for SSDI benefits were
                approved on or after July 23, 2020.
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                 \6\ Section 2(b) of the ALS Act, Public Law 116-250, 134 Stat.
                at 1128.
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                Explanation of Changes
                 To ensure our regulations reflect the provisions of the ALS Act, as
                amended, we have added language in 20 CFR 404.315 to eliminate the 5-
                month waiting period for individuals with ALS whose applications for
                SSDI benefits were approved on or after July 23, 2020. We also added
                language to 20 CFR 404.317 to reflect this change in the law due to the
                ALS Act. We are making no other changes to our regulations.
                Regulatory Procedures
                 We follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) rulemaking
                procedures specified in 5 U.S.C. 553 when we develop 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 the 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 find that there is good cause under 5 U.S.C. 553(b)(B) to issue
                this regulatory change as a final rule without prior public comment. We
                find that prior public comment is unnecessary because this final rule
                merely makes our regulations (20 CFR 404.315 and 404.317) consistent
                with the provisions of the ALS Act, as amended, which eliminated the 5-
                month waiting period for individuals with ALS whose applications for DI
                benefits were approved on or after July 23, 2020. Because we are only
                making our regulations consistent with the ALS Act, and we are making
                no other changes, we find that prior public comment is unnecessary and
                that there is good cause to issue this final rule without prior notice
                and public comment.
                 In addition, we find that there is good cause for dispensing with
                the 30-day delay in the effective date of this final rule as provided
                by 5 U.S.C. 553(d)(3). As we explained above, this final rule merely
                makes our regulations consistent with the ALS Act, which is already in
                effect. Therefore, we find that it is unnecessary to delay the
                effective date of the final rule.
                [[Page 48021]]
                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 (E.O.) 12866, as
                supplemented by E.O. 13563. Thus, OMB did not review the final rule. We
                also determined that this final rule meets the plain language
                requirement of E.O. 12866.
                Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)
                 We analyzed this final rule in accordance with the principles and
                criteria established by E.O. 13132 and determined that the final rule
                will not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the
                preparation of a federalism assessment. We also determined that this
                final rule would not preempt any State law or State regulation or
                affect the States' abilities to discharge traditional State
                governmental functions.
                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, a regulatory flexibility analysis
                is not required under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended.
                Paperwork Reduction Act
                 This final rule only removes the 5-month waiting period in the
                regulations cited above but does not create any new or affect any
                existing collections. So, it does not impose any burdens under the
                Paperwork Reduction Act and does not require further OMB approval.
                (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Nos. 9601, Social
                Security--Disability Insurance)
                List of Subjects in 20 CFR Part 404
                 Administrative practice and procedure, Disability benefits, Old-
                age, survivors, and disability insurance, Reporting and recordkeeping
                requirements, Social security.
                 The Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration,
                Kilolo Kijakazi, having reviewed and approved this document, is
                delegating the authority to electronically sign this document to
                William P. Gibson, who is the primary Federal Register Liaison for SSA,
                for purposes of publication in the Federal Register.
                William P. Gibson,
                Federal Register Liaison, Office of Legislation and Congressional
                Affairs, Social Security Administration.
                 For the reasons stated in the preamble, we amend 20 CFR part 404,
                subpart D, as set forth below:
                PART 404--FEDERAL OLD-AGE, SURVIVORS AND DISABILITY INSURANCE
                (1950- )
                Subpart D--Old-Age, Disability, Dependents' and Survivors'
                Insurance Benefits; Period of Disability
                0
                1. The authority citation for subpart D of part 404 continues to read
                as follows:
                 Authority: Secs. 202, 203(a) and (b), 205(a), 216, 223, 225,
                and 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 402, 403(a) and
                (b), 405(a), 416, 423, 425, and 902(a)(5)).
                0
                2. Amend Sec. 404.315 by revising paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows:
                Sec. 404.315 Who is entitled to disability benefits?
                 (a) * * *
                 (4) You have been disabled for 5 full consecutive months or no
                waiting period is required. The 5-month waiting period begins with a
                month in which you were both insured for disability and disabled. Your
                waiting period can begin no earlier than the 17th month before the
                month you apply--no matter how long you were disabled before then. No
                waiting period is required if:
                 (i) You were previously entitled to disability benefits or to a
                period of disability under Sec. 404.320 any time within 5 years of the
                month you again became disabled; or
                 (ii) You have been medically determined to have amyotrophic lateral
                sclerosis, and we approved your application for disability insurance
                benefits on or after July 23, 2020.
                * * * * *
                0
                3. Amend Sec. 404.317 by adding a sentence after the third sentence to
                read as follows:
                Sec. 404.317 How is the amount of my disability benefit calculated?
                 * * * If the 5-month waiting period is not required because you
                have been medically determined to have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
                (see Sec. 404.315), your PIA is figured as if you were 62 years old
                when you become entitled to benefits. * * *
                [FR Doc. 2021-18435 Filed 8-26-21; 8:45 am]
                BILLING CODE 4191-02-P
                

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