42 U.S.C. 421 - Disability determinations

Cite as:42 U.S.C. 421
Currency:Current through P.L. 116-158 (08/14/2020)
 
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(a) State agencies

(1) In the case of any individual, the determination of whether or not he is under a disability (as defined in section 416(i) or 423(d) of this title) and of the day such disability began, and the determination of the day on which such disability ceases, shall be made by a State agency, notwithstanding any other provision of law, in any State that notifies the Commissioner of Social Security in writing that it wishes to make such disability determinations commencing with such month as the Commissioner of Social Security and the State agree upon, but only if (A) the Commissioner of Social Security has not found, under subsection (b)(1), that the State agency has substantially failed to make disability determinations in accordance with the applicable provisions of this section or rules issued thereunder, and (B) the State has not notified the Commissioner of Social Security, under subsection (b)(2), that it does not wish to make such determinations. If the Commissioner of Social Security once makes the finding described in clause (A) of the preceding sentence, or the State gives the notice referred to in clause (B) of such sentence, the Commissioner of Social Security may thereafter determine whether (and, if so, beginning with which month and under what conditions) the State may again make disability determinations under this paragraph.

(2) The disability determinations described in paragraph (1) made by a State agency shall be made in accordance with the pertinent provisions of this subchapter and the standards and criteria contained in regulations or other written guidelines of the Commissioner of Social Security pertaining to matters such as disability determinations, the class or classes of individuals with respect to which a State may make disability determinations (if it does not wish to do so with respect to all individuals in the State), and the conditions under which it may choose not to make all such determinations. In addition, the Commissioner of Social Security shall promulgate regulations specifying, in such detail as the Commissioner deems appropriate, performance standards and administrative requirements and procedures to be followed in performing the disability determination function in order to assure effective and uniform administration of the disability insurance program throughout the United States. The regulations may, for example, specify matters such as-

(A) the administrative structure and the relationship between various units of the State agency responsible for disability determinations,

(B) the physical location of and relationship among agency staff units, and other individuals or organizations performing tasks for the State agency, and standards for the availability to applicants and beneficiaries of facilities for making disability determinations,

(C) State agency performance criteria, including the rate of accuracy of decisions, the time periods within which determinations must be made, the procedures for and the scope of review by the Commissioner of Social Security, and, as the Commissioner finds appropriate, by the State, of its performance in individual cases and in classes of cases, and rules governing access of appropriate Federal officials to State offices and to State records relating to its administration of the disability determination function,

(D) fiscal control procedures that the State agency may be required to adopt, and

(E) the submission of reports and other data, in such form and at such time as the Commissioner of Social Security may require, concerning the State agency's activities relating to the disability determination.

Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize the Commissioner of Social Security to take any action except pursuant to law or to regulations promulgated pursuant to law.

(b) Determinations by Commissioner

(1) If the Commissioner of Social Security finds, after notice and opportunity for a hearing, that a State agency is substantially failing to make disability determinations in a manner consistent with the Commissioner's regulations and other written guidelines, the Commissioner of Social Security shall, not earlier than 180 days following the Commissioner's finding, and after the Commissioner has complied with the requirements of paragraph (3), make the disability determinations referred to in subsection (a)(1).

(2) If a State, having notified the Commissioner of Social Security of its intent to make disability determinations under subsection (a)(1), no longer wishes to make such determinations, it shall notify the Commissioner of Social Security in writing of that fact, and, if an agency of the State is making disability determinations at the time such notice is given, it shall continue to do so for not less than 180 days, or (if later) until the Commissioner of Social Security has complied with the requirements of paragraph (3). Thereafter, the Commissioner of Social Security shall make the disability determinations referred to in subsection (a)(1).

(3)

(A) The Commissioner of Social Security shall develop and initiate all appropriate procedures to implement a plan with respect to any partial or complete assumption by the Commissioner of Social Security of the disability determination function from a State agency, as provided in this section, under which employees of the affected State agency who are capable of performing duties in the disability determination process for the Commissioner of Social Security shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, have a preference over any other individual in filling an appropriate employment position with the Commissioner of Social Security (subject to any system established by the Commissioner of Social Security for determining hiring priority among such employees of the State agency) unless any such employee is the administrator, the deputy administrator, or assistant administrator (or his equivalent) of the State agency, in which case the Commissioner of Social Security may accord such priority to such employee.

(B) The Commissioner of Social Security shall not make such assumption of the disability determination function until such time as the Secretary of Labor determines that, with respect to employees of such State agency who will be displaced from their employment on account of such assumption by the Commissioner of Social Security and who will not be hired by the Commissioner of Social Security to perform duties in the disability determination process, the State has made fair and equitable arrangements to protect the interests of employees so displaced. Such protective arrangements shall include only those provisions which are provided under all applicable Federal, State and local statutes including, but not limited to, (i) the preservation of rights, privileges, and benefits (including continuation of pension rights and benefits) under existing collective-bargaining agreements; (ii) the continuation of collective-bargaining rights; (iii) the assignment of affected employees to other jobs or to retraining programs; (iv) the protection of individual employees against a worsening of their positions with respect to their employment; (v) the protection of health benefits and other fringe benefits; and (vi) the provision of severance pay, as may be necessary.

(c) Review of determination by Commissioner

(1) The Commissioner of Social Security may on the Commissioner's own motion or as required under paragraphs (2) and (3) review a determination, made by a State agency under this section, that an individual is or is not under a disability (as defined in section 416(i) or 423(d) of this title) and, as a result of such review, may modify such agency's determination and determine that such individual either is or is not under a disability (as so defined) or that such individual's disability began on a day earlier or later than that determined by such agency, or that such disability ceased on a day earlier or later than that determined by such agency. A review by the Commissioner of Social Security on the Commissioner's own motion of a State agency determination under this paragraph may be made before or after any action is taken to implement such determination.

(2) The Commissioner of Social Security (in accordance with paragraph (3)) shall review determinations, made by State agencies pursuant to this section, that individuals are under disabilities (as defined in section 416(i) or 423(d) of this title). Any review by the Commissioner of Social Security of a State agency determination under this paragraph shall be made before any action is taken to implement such determination.

(3)

(A) In carrying out the provisions of paragraph (2) with respect to the review of determinations made by State agencies pursuant to this section that individuals are under disabilities (as defined in section 416(i) or 423(d) of this title), the Commissioner of Social Security shall review-

(i) at least 50 percent of all such determinations made by State agencies on applications for benefits under this subchapter, and

(ii) other determinations made by State agencies pursuant to this section to the extent necessary to assure a high level of accuracy in such other determinations.

(B) In conducting reviews pursuant to subparagraph (A), the Commissioner of Social Security shall, to the extent feasible, select for review those determinations which the Commissioner of Social Security identifies as being the most likely to be incorrect.

(C) Not later than April 1, 1992, and annually thereafter, the Commissioner of Social Security shall submit to the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the Senate a written report setting forth the number of reviews conducted under subparagraph (A)(ii) during the preceding fiscal year and the findings of the Commissioner of Social Security based on such reviews of the accuracy of the determinations made by State agencies pursuant to this section.

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