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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: April 1, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 62)]
[Notices]               
[Page 15784-15789]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr01ap03-102]                         

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

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION

 
Privacy Act of 1974; Alteration to an Existing System of Records

AGENCY: Social Security Administration (SSA).

ACTION: Notice of alteration to an existing Privacy Act system of 
records.

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

SUMMARY: In accordance with the Privacy Act (5 U.S.C. 552a(e)(4)) we 
are issuing public notice of our intent to alter an existing system of 
records, the Claims Folders System, 60-0089, by expanding the 
categories of records mentioned in the System. We discuss this proposed 
change in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below.
    We invite public comments on these proposals.
		
DATES: We filed a report of the proposed alteration with the Chairwoman 
of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, the Chairman of the 
House Government Reform Committee, and the Director, Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) on March 25, 2003. The proposed alteration will become effective 
on May 8, 2003, unless we receive comments on or before that date that 
would warrant our not implementing the proposed alteration.

ADDRESSES: Interested individuals may comment on this publication by 
writing to the Executive Director, Office of Public Disclosure, Office 
of the General Counsel, Social Security Administration, 3-A-6 
Operations Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 
21235-6401. All comments received will be available for public 
inspection at the above address.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ms. Linda Thibodeaux, Social Insurance 
Specialist, Social Security Administration, Room 3-C-2 Operations 
Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401, 
telephone (410) 965-9821, e-mail: linda.thibodeaux@ssa.gov.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background and Purpose of the Proposed Alteration to Existing 
Privacy Act System of Records, the Claims Folders System, 60-0089

A. General Background

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) plans to conduct several 
pilot projects designed to test and gather information on the use of 
photographic identification to address the issue of complicit 
impersonation in the disability and blindness claims process. The part 
of the disability and blindness determination process used by SSA to 
supplement existing medical evidence from treatment sources when there 
is not enough information to make a disability or blindness 
determination or decision is the consultative examination (CE). 
Complicit impersonation is accomplished when an individual posing as 
the intended claimant, and with the consent of the claimant, responds 
to a CE appointment in order to misrepresent the claimant's true 
medical condition or provides false or misleading information that 
affects eligibility during interviews with SSA field office employees.
    SSA is promulgating temporary regulations that will provide the 
authority for us to require individuals filing for title II or title 
XVI disability and blindness benefits in the pilot sites to have their 
photograph taken. Once these regulations are promulgated, failure to 
comply with the pilot requirements will result in denial of benefits.
    The claimant identification pilot projects will be in effect for a 
six-month period of time that will begin 30 days after final rules 
providing regulatory authority for the pilots are published in the 
Federal Register. The pilot sites include all SSA field offices in the 
States of South Carolina and Kansas; the Augusta, Georgia SSA field 
office; and nine SSA field offices located in New York City: Uptown 
(Manhattan); East Bronx (Bronx); Parkway (Bronx); West Farms (Bronx); 
Bushwick (Brooklyn); East New York (Brooklyn); Avenue X (Brooklyn); 
Flatbush (Brooklyn) and Flushing (Queens).

[[Page 15785]]

B. Pilot Methodology

    Individuals filing for title II and title XVI disability and 
blindness benefits at a Social Security office in the pilot sites will 
be required to participate in the claimant identification pilots. In 
addition, individuals filing via the Internet or by telephone and who 
are later required to undergo CEs will be included in the pilots. Each 
individual will be asked to provide some form of photographic 
identification. This identification will be photocopied and the copy 
will be made part of his/her SSA claims folder. If the individual does 
not have photographic identification available or does not wish to 
provide it, SSA personnel will not require it but will follow 
identification procedures already in place.
    Next, as part of the claimant identification pilots, individuals 
will be required to have a photograph taken by SSA personnel, 
regardless of whether the individual provides photographic 
identification for photocopying. (An exception to the photograph 
requirement will be permitted when an individual has a sincere 
religious objection.) A copy will be made of the image and placed in 
the individual's SSA claims folder. Images also will be stored 
electronically and accessed by authorized SSA and Disability 
Determination Service (DDS) personnel. If DDS personnel request a CE 
for the individual, a hard copy image of the photograph will be made 
available to the person conducting the CE. This will help to determine 
whether the individual appearing for the CE is the same individual who 
presented himself or herself as the individual filing for disability 
benefits. When the CE physician has not been provided with a photograph 
or a copy of a photographic identification previously made by SSA 
personnel, e.g., the claim was filed via the Internet or by telephone, 
the CE physician will copy the individual's photographic identification 
and place it in the claims folder.
    Additionally, this same requirement will be used to verify the 
identity of pilot participants during the duration of the pilots if 
they are required to appear for subsequent interviews including 
Continuing Disability Reviews, SSI Redeterminations, and appeals 
associated with a denial of a claim including any CEs associated with 
those appeals.

II. Impact of the Collection, Maintenance and Use of Pilot Data on SSA 
Privacy Act System of Records: The Claims Folders System

    The Claims Folders System contains information that constitutes the 
basic record for payments and determinations made for program benefits 
under the Social Security Act. Included in claim folder records is 
identifying information about claimants for Social Security benefits.
    We are proposing to revise the description of the categories of 
records maintained in the Claims Folders System. In connection with the 
claimant identification pilot projects SSA is conducting, records 
specifically collected for the pilot projects will be maintained in the 
claims folders of those individuals who file for title II or title XVI 
disability and blindness benefits for the duration of the pilot. The 
records include: photocopies of identification documents, photographs 
taken by field office personnel or a report of contact or other 
documentation explaining why an individual refused to allow SSA to take 
their photograph, flag on the folder indicating the case is part of the 
pilot, and the evaluation forms developed for the pilot.

III. Effect of the Proposed Alteration on the Rights of Individuals

    SSA's implementation of the claimant identification pilots will 
result in the collection and maintenance of information to test the use 
of photograph identification to address the issue of complicit 
impersonation in the disability and blindness claims process. SSA will 
maintain photocopies of identification documents and photographs. We 
will afford individuals suspected of fraudulent activities all due 
process and other rights to which they are entitled. There is potential 
for an adverse effect on those individuals who refuse to be 
photographed for reasons other than a sincere religious objection. 
Failure to comply with the mandatory requirements of the pilot will 
result in denial of benefits.

    Dated: March 25, 2003.
Jo Anne B. Barnhart,
Commissioner.
60-0089

System name:
    Claims Folders System, Social Security Administration, Office of 
the General Counsel, Office of Public Disclosure.

Security classification:
    None.

System location:
    The claims folders initially are established and maintained in 
Social Security field offices when claims for benefits are filed or a 
lead is expected to result in a claim. Telephone and address 
information for Social Security field offices may be found in local 
telephone directories under Social Security Administration (SSA). This 
information can also be found on the Agency's Web site, Social Security 
Online. The claims folders are retained in field offices until all 
development has been completed, and then transferred to the appropriate 
processing center as set out below. In addition, the information 
provided by Social Security claimants on the application for benefits 
is maintained as a computerized record. The computerized records are 
maintained at the following address: Social Security Administration, 
Office of Systems, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21235.
    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims folders are held in 
Social Security field offices pending establishment of a payment 
record, or until the appeal period in a denied claim situation has 
expired. The folders are then transferred to a folder-staging facility 
(FSF) in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The address is:
    Social Security Administration, SSI Folder Staging Operations, 
Wilkes-Barre Data Operations Center, PO Box 7000, Wilkes-Barre, PA 
18703.
    Retirement and Survivors Insurance (RSI) claims folders are 
maintained primarily in the SSA's PSCs (contact the system manager at 
the address below for PSC address information). If the individual to 
whom the claim pertains resides outside the United States or any of its 
possessions, the folder is maintained in the Office of Central 
Operations (OCO) Rolling Heights Building (Megasite). The address for 
the Megasite is: 2255 Rolling Road, Baltimore, MD 21244.
    Disability Insurance (DI) claims folders for individuals under age 
55 are maintained primarily in the OCO Megasite (see the address 
above).
    DI claims folders for disabled individuals age 55 and over are 
maintained in SSA's National Records Center (NRC). The address for the 
NRC is: 601 S. 291 Hwy., 6000 E. Geospace Dr., Independence, MO 64056.
    If the individual to whom the claim pertains resides outside the 
United States or any of its possessions, DI claims folders for 
individuals are maintained in the OCO Megasite (see the address above).
    Special Veterans Benefits (SVB) claims folders are held in Social

[[Page 15786]]

Security field offices and the Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO), 
Philippines pending establishment of a payment record or until the 
appeal period in a denied claim situation has expired. Contact the 
system manager for address information for SVB claims folders 
maintained in the VARO, Philippines. The VA data file associated with 
SVB claims is located in SSA's San Francisco Regional Office. The 
address is: Center for Infrastructure, Systems Support Staff, Frank 
Hagel Federal Building, 1221 Nevin Avenue, Richmond, California 94801.
    In addition, claims folders are transferred to the General Services 
Administration and on occasion may be temporarily transferred to other 
Federal agencies. The DI claims folders also are transferred to State 
agencies for disability and vocational rehabilitation determinations. 
Contact the system manager for address information.

Categories of individuals covered by the system:
    Claimants, applicants, beneficiaries and potential claimants for 
benefits and payments administered by the Social Security 
Administration (e.g., title II RSI and DI benefits; and title VIII SVB 
and title XVI SSI payments). Folders also are maintained on claims that 
have been denied.

Categories of records in the system:
    The claims folder contains the name and Social Security number of 
the claimant or potential claimant; the application for benefits; 
earnings record information established and maintained by SSA; 
documents supporting findings of fact regarding factors of entitlement 
and continuing eligibility; payment documentation; correspondence to 
and from claimants and/or representatives; information about 
representative payees; and leads information from third parties such as 
social service agencies, IRS, VA and mental institutions. There is also 
a VA data file associated with SVB claims. This data includes potential 
beneficiaries for title VIII SVB and will be used to help determine 
individuals' eligibility.
    The claims folder also may contain data collected as a result of 
inquiries or complaints, and evaluation and measurement studies of the 
effectiveness of claims policies. Separate files may be maintained of 
certain actions, which are entered directly into the computer 
processes. These relate to reports of changes of address, work status, 
and other post-adjudicative reports. Separate files also temporarily 
may be maintained for the purpose of resolving problem cases. Separate 
abstracts also are maintained for statistical purposes (i.e., 
disallowances, technical denials, and demographic and statistical 
information relating to disability decisions).
    In addition, the claims folder may contain information collected in 
connection with SSA's Claimant Identification Pilot Projects. This 
information includes: photocopies of identification documents, 
photographs taken by field office personnel or a report of contact or 
other documentation explaining why an individual refused to allow SSA 
to take their photograph, flag on the folder indicating the case is 
part of the pilot, and the evaluation forms developed for the pilot.

Authority for maintenance of the system:
    Sections 202-205, 223, 226, 228, 1611, 1631, 1818, 1836, and 1840 
(42 U.S.C. Sections 402-405, 423, 426, 428, 1382, 1383, 1395i-2, 1395o 
and 1395s and title VIII of the Social Security Act.

Purpose(s):
    Each claim constitutes a basic record for payments and 
determinations under the Social Security Act. The information in the 
claims folder is used to produce and maintain the Master Beneficiary 
Record (60-0090), which is the automated payment system for RSI and DI 
benefits; the Supplemental Security Income Record (60-0103), which is 
the automated payment system for SSI payments for the aged, blind, 
disabled and SVB payments under title VIII of the Act; the Black Lung 
Payment System (60-0045), which is the payment system for BL claims; 
and the Health Insurance Billing and Collection Master Record system 
(70-0522) which is the payment system for HI and Supplementary Medical 
Insurance (Medicare) benefits.
    Claims folders information is used throughout SSA for purposes of 
pursuing claims; determining, organizing and maintaining documents for 
making determinations of eligibility for benefits, the amount of 
benefits, the appropriate payee for benefits; reviewing continuing 
eligibility; holding hearings or administrative review processes; 
ensuring that proper adjustments are made based on events affecting 
entitlement; and answering inquiries.
    Claims folders may be referred to State disability determination 
services agencies or vocational rehabilitation agencies in disability 
cases. They may also be used for quality review, evaluation, and 
measurement studies, and other statistical and research purposes. 
Extracts may be maintained as interviewing tools, activity logs, 
records of claims clearance, and records of type or nature of actions 
taken.

Routine uses of records maintained in the system, including categories 
of users and the purposes of such uses:
    Disclosure may be made for routine uses as indicated below. 
However, disclosure of any information defined as ``return or return 
information'' under 26 U.S.C. 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 
will not be disclosed unless authorized by a statute, the Internal 
Revenue Service (IRS), or IRS regulations.

[ ... ]

28. To DOJ (Immigration and Naturalization), upon request, to identify and locate aliens in the United States pursuant to section 290(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1360(b)).

[ ... ]

[ End ]



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