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115th Congress    }                                   {       Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session       }                                   {       115-932

======================================================================



 
          SOCIAL SECURITY ONLINE TOOLS INNOVATION ACT OF 2018

                                _______
                                

 September 10, 2018.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on 
            the State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Brady of Texas, from the Committee on Ways and Means, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3309]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Ways and Means, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 3309) to require the Commissioner of Social Security 
to make publicly available online tools to allow individuals 
eligible for disability benefits to assess the impact of 
earnings on the individual's eligibility for, and amount of, 
benefits received through Federal and State benefit programs, 
having considered the same, report favorably thereon with an 
amendment and recommend that the bill as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

 I.  SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND...........................................2
        A. Purpose and Summary...................................     2
        B. Background and Need for Legislation...................     2
        C. Legislative History...................................     3
II. EXPLANATION OF THE BILL...........................................4
        A. SHORT TITLE (SECTION 1 OF BILL).......................     4
        B. ONLINE BENEFIT ASSESSMENT TOOLS (SEC. 2 OF BILL)......     4
III.VOTES OF THE COMMITTEE............................................6

IV. BUDGET EFFECTS OF THE BILL........................................6
        A. Committee Estimate of Budgetary Effects...............     6
        B. Statement Regarding New Budget Authority and Tax 
            Expenditures Budget Authority........................     6
        C. Cost Estimate Prepared by the Congressional Budget 
            Office...............................................     6
 V. OTHER MATTERS TO BE DISCUSSED UNDER THE RULES OF THE HOUSE........7
        A. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations......     7
        B. Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives.     8
        C. Information Relating to Unfunded Mandates.............     8
        D. Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and 
            Limited Tariff Benefits..............................     8
        E. Duplication of Federal Programs.......................     8
        F. Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings...................     8

    The amendment is as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Social Security Online Tools 
Innovation Act of 2018''.

SEC. 2. ONLINE BENEFIT ASSESSMENT TOOLS.

  (a) In General.--Not later than 2 years after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, the Commissioner of Social Security shall make 
available on the website of the Social Security Administration a tool 
or tools to allow an individual entitled to benefits under section 223 
of the Social Security Act to obtain an estimate of the potential 
impact of earnings on the individual's eligibility for and amount of 
such benefits.
  (b) No Recovery of Certain Overpayments.--In any case in which a 
beneficiary to whom an overpayment is made under section 223 of the 
Social Security Act shows to the satisfaction of the Commissioner that 
such overpayment arose as a result of the beneficiary's reliance on 
inaccurate information provided by the tool or tools described in 
subsection (a), the beneficiary shall be considered to meet the 
criteria in section 204(b)(1) of such Act and there shall be no 
adjustment of payments to, or recovery by the United States from, the 
beneficiary with respect to such overpayment.

                       I. SUMMARY AND BACKGROUND


                         A. Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 3309, as reported by the Committee on Ways and Means 
on July 18, 2018, would require the Commissioner of Social 
Security to make available on the website of the Social 
Security Administration a tool or tools to allow an individual 
entitled to benefits based on disability under title II of the 
Social Security Act to obtain an estimate of the potential 
impact of earnings on the individual's eligibility for and 
amount of such benefits. The bill seeks to make it easier for 
Disability Insurance (DI) beneficiaries to understand how 
potential earnings may affect their benefit payments.

                 B. Background and Need for Legislation

    Many DI beneficiaries are unable to return to self-
supporting work after qualifying for benefits. Among a cohort 
of beneficiaries tracked for 10 years, 28 percent worked at 
some point after their application was approved, but generally 
episodically and at low earnings. About 3.7 percent were able 
to work enough to leave the rolls. Younger beneficiaries (under 
40) were more likely to work than older beneficiaries.\1\ 
However, according to a 2015 beneficiary survey, over 40 
percent of beneficiaries said that they were interested in 
working.\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Su Liu and David C. Stapleton, ``Longitudinal Statistics on Work 
Activity and Use of Employment Supports for New Social Security 
Disability Insurance Beneficiaries,'' Social Security Bulletin Vol. 71, 
No. 3, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (2011).
    \2\National Beneficiary Survey: Disability Statistics, 2015, SOCIAL 
SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, (March 2018).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Social Security includes numerous incentives for disability 
beneficiaries who want to try returning to work. These work 
incentives are intended to assist in the transition to work and 
potentially leaving benefits, by allowing individuals to test 
their capacity to sustain work without facing the risk of 
losing all income should they be unsuccessful. However, these 
work incentive rules are complex, can be confusing to 
beneficiaries, and often require the assistance of an expert to 
understand. Moreover, the complexity of the rules, and the 
prospect of a potential overpayment of benefits, can dissuade 
some individuals from trying.
    SSA must receive reports of a beneficiary's earnings 
timely, and adjust benefit-payment amounts promptly, in order 
to prevent overpayment of benefits. Public Law 114-74, the 
Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA '15) included provisions to 
address some of the challenges that DI beneficiaries face when 
trying to return to work by making it easier for DI 
beneficiaries to report work earnings, by improving the 
timeliness and accuracy of the earnings information the Social 
Security Administration (SSA) receives, and by streamlining 
some of the rules to improve their administration. Section 824 
of BBA '15 authorizes the SSA to enter into data exchange 
agreements with payroll providers to increase the efficiency of 
earnings reporting and prevent overpayments. Section 825 of the 
BBA '15 streamlines the SSA's assessment of the impact of 
earnings on an individual's benefits by requiring the SSA to 
generally count earnings in the month the earnings are paid 
(rather than when they are earned). Section 826 requires the 
SSA to make it easier for DI beneficiaries to report their 
earnings by creating an electronic earnings reporting system.
    Online support tools for people with disabilities who are 
looking to enter or re-enter the workforce have been developed 
for several states. For example, the World Institute on 
Disability, in conjunction with state partners, developed one 
of these tools. Known as Disability Benefits 101, the tool is 
available in nine states.\3\ During a Committee hearing on DI 
and work, a return to work expert discussed the value these 
tools provide.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\Alaska, Arizona, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, 
Missouri, New Jersey, and Ohio.
    \4\John Kregel response to a question from Chairman Johnson at a 
full Committee hearing: ``Promoting Opportunity for Disability 
Insurance Beneficiaries,'' WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE, (July 9, 2015), 
https://waysandmeans.house.gov/event/chairman-ryan-announces-hearing-
on-promoting-opportunity-for-disability-insurance-beneficiaries/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    H.R. 3309 builds on BBA '15 by requiring the SSA to develop 
a single resource where individuals can assess how their 
earnings might affect their DI benefits. Creating an online 
tool (or tools) will expand access to online tools that are 
already used successfully in some states, can provide 
beneficiaries with concrete factual information about 
employment and benefits, and can provide information before, 
during, and after engagement with a benefit counselor and other 
experts.

                         C. Legislative History


Background

    H.R. 3309 was introduced on July 19, 2017, as the ``Social 
Security Online Tools Innovation Act,'' and was referred to the 
Committee on Ways and Means.

Committee hearings

    On February 25, 2015, the Social Security Subcommittee held 
a hearing entitled ``Maintaining the Disability Insurance Trust 
Fund's Solvency.'' At that hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Sam 
Johnson (R-TX) outlined a set of principles for reforming the 
DI program that included promoting opportunity for DI 
beneficiaries trying to return to work.
    On June 16, 2015, the Social Security Subcommittee held a 
hearing entitled ``Financial Risk of Returning to Work.'' The 
hearing focused on the SSA's failure to promptly adjust benefit 
payments when individuals return to work, leading to 
substantial overpayments, and how fear of overpayments 
discourages DI beneficiaries from going back to work. The 
hearing highlighted the effects of earnings on benefits and the 
need for improvements to wage reporting and their processing by 
the SSA.
    On July 9, 2015, the Committee on Ways and Means held a 
hearing entitled ``Promoting Opportunity for Disability 
Insurance Beneficiaries.'' The hearing focused on the 
disincentives in the DI program and ways to improve the DI 
program to better promote opportunity for those beneficiaries 
who want to work.

Committee action

    The Committee on Ways and Means marked up H.R. 3309, the 
``Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act of 2018,'' on 
July 18, 2018, and ordered the bill, as amended, favorably 
reported (with a quorum being present).

                      II. EXPLANATION OF THE BILL


                   A. Short Title (Section 1 of Bill)


                              PRESENT LAW

    No provision.

                           REASONS FOR CHANGE

    The Committee believes that the short title reflects the 
policy and intent included in the legislation.

                       EXPLANATION OF PROVISIONS

    This section contains the short title of the bill, the 
``Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act of 2018.''

                             EFFECTIVE DATE

    The provision is effective upon the date of enactment.

          B. Online Benefit Assessment Tools (Sec. 2 of Bill)


                              PRESENT LAW

    No provision.

                           REASONS FOR CHANGE

    DI beneficiaries who want to try working face complex rules 
regarding the impact of earnings on their benefits (i.e. the 
work incentives). Fear of losing benefits, and misunderstanding 
regarding the impact work has on benefits, are frequently cited 
as barriers to returning to work. While some online tools exist 
that can help certain DI beneficiaries see the impact of 
earnings on their benefits, the SSA does not provide such a 
resource. The Committee believes that all DI beneficiaries 
should have access to an online tool (or tools) to obtain a 
preliminary estimate of the potential impact of earnings on the 
individual's eligibility for and amount of DI benefits so they 
can make informed decisions about returning to work.

                       EXPLANATION OF PROVISIONS

    This section requires the Commissioner of Social Security 
to make available on the Social Security Administration's 
website a tool or tools to allow an individual entitled to 
benefits based on disability under Section 223 of the Social 
Security Act to obtain an estimate of the potential impact of 
earnings on the individual's eligibility for and amount of such 
benefits. The Commissioner must make the tool (or tools) 
available within two years of the date of enactment.
    The Committee expects the SSA will use estimates of wages 
provided by the beneficiary, and therefore the tool (or tools) 
will only be as useful as the information is accurate. The 
estimates the SSA provides should be accompanied by 
explanations of work incentive provisions, including, but not 
be limited to, unsuccessful work attempt (20 CFR 404.1574(c) 
and (d)), trial work months (Section 222(c) of the Social 
Security Act and 20 CFR 404.1592), impairment-related work 
expenses (Section 223(d)(4)(A) of the Social Security Act and 
20 CFR 404.1576), subsidies (20 CFR 404.1573), extended period 
of eligibility (Section 223(a)(1)(E) and Section 223(e) of the 
Social Security Act and 20 CFR 404.1592(a)), extended Medicare 
eligibility (Section 226(b) of the Social Security Act), and 
expedited reinstatement (Section 223(i) of the Social Security 
Act and 20 CFR 404.1592(b)).
    The Committee expects the website will note that the 
information provided by the tool (or tools) is only a 
preliminary estimate and does not reflect the potential impact 
on other federal or state benefits which the individual may 
receive. The Committee recognizes that a precise computation of 
benefit amounts is complicated given the number and complexity 
of work incentive provisions. The Committee also recognizes 
that the tool (or tools) does (do) not replace in-person 
assistance from the SSA or other trained benefit counselors 
(such as at Work Incentives Planning and Assistance programs 
and Employment Networks). Instead, the tool (or tools) 
complements (complement) this assistance and can serve as a 
resource in cases where an individual cannot access in-person 
benefit counseling.
    Under Section 204(b)(1) of the Social Security Act, a 
beneficiary is not liable for an overpayment if the beneficiary 
can show to the Commissioner's satisfaction that the 
beneficiary relied on inaccurate information provided by the 
SSA. The Committee expects that the SSA would conclude that 
this section of the Act applies to situations where a 
beneficiary relies on incorrect information provided by the 
online tool or tools. The Committee also recognizes that the 
accuracy of the tool (or tools) depends on the accuracy of the 
information the beneficiary provides. To ensure that 
beneficiaries are held harmless in cases where the beneficiary 
provides accurate information, but the tool(s) provide(s) 
incorrect information, the section explicitly states that 
beneficiaries will be considered to meet the criteria in 
Section 204(b)(1), and thus this protection extends to cases 
where the online tool (or tools) is (are) used. In line with 
the Committee's intent that this language does not change 
current law, the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that 
this section of the bill would not have a budgetary effect 
because the SSA already waives overpayments in similar 
situations.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\H.R. 3309, Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act of 2018, 
CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, (July 25, 2018), https://www.cbo.gov/
system/files?file=2018-07/hr3309.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                             EFFECTIVE DATE

    The provision is effective upon the date of enactment.

                      III. VOTES OF THE COMMITTEE

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the following statement is made 
concerning the vote of the Committee on Ways and Means in its 
consideration of H.R. 3309, the Social Security Online Tools 
Innovation Act of 2018, on July 18, 2018.
    The bill, H.R. 3309, as amended, was ordered favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by a voice vote (with 
a quorum being present).

                     IV. BUDGET EFFECTS OF THE BILL


               A. Committee Estimate of Budgetary Effects

    In compliance with clause 3(d) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the following statement is made 
concerning the effects on the budget of the bill, H.R. 3309, as 
reported. The Committee agrees with the estimate prepared by 
the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which is included below.

B. Statement Regarding New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures Budget 
                               Authority

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee states that the 
bill involves no new or increased budget authority. The 
Committee states further that the bill involves no new or 
increased tax expenditures.

      C. Cost Estimate Prepared by the Congressional Budget Office

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, requiring a cost estimate 
prepared by the CBO, the following statement by CBO is 
provided.

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 25, 2018.
Hon. Kevin Brady,
Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3309, the Social 
Security Online Tools Innovation Act of 2018.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Justin Latus.
            Sincerely,
                                                Keith Hall,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

H.R. 3309--Social Security Online Tools Innovation Act of 2018

    Within two years of enactment, H.R. 3309 would require the 
Social Security Administration (SSA) to develop and post a tool 
on its website that allows beneficiaries of the Social Security 
Disability Insurance (DI) program to estimate changes in their 
eligibility and benefits on the basis of earnings. In addition, 
the bill would prohibit SSA from recovering certain 
overpayments made to beneficiaries who relied on inaccurate 
information produced by the online tool.
    Using information on the costs of setting up similar online 
tools and information from SSA, CBO estimates that implementing 
the bill would cost $2 million over the 2019-2023 period; such 
spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated 
funds. CBO estimates there would be no budgetary effects from 
the prohibition on collecting certain overpayments because SSA 
does not collect overpayments in similar situations under its 
current practices.
    Enacting H.R. 3309 would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
    CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 3309 would not increase 
net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.
    CBO has not reviewed H.R. 3309 for intergovernmental or 
private-sector mandates. Section 4 of the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act excludes from the application of that act 
legislative provisions related to the Old-Age, Survivors, and 
Disability Insurance program under title II of the Social 
Security Act (including taxes imposed by sections 3101(a) and 
311(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986). CBO has 
determined that H.R. 3309 falls within that exclusion because 
it concerns the DI program.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are Justin Latus 
(for federal costs) and Andrew Laughlin (for mandates). The 
estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

     V. OTHER MATTERS TO BE DISCUSSED UNDER THE RULES OF THE HOUSE


          A. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations

    With respect to clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives (relating to oversight findings), 
the Committee advises that it was as a result of the 
Committee's review of the provisions of H.R. 3309 that the 
Committee concluded that it is appropriate to report the bill, 
as amended, favorably to the House of Representatives with the 
recommendation that the bill do pass.

        B. Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives

    With respect to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
bill contains no measure that authorizes funding, so no 
statement of general performance goals and objectives for which 
any measure authorizes funding is required.

              C. Information Relating to Unfunded Mandates

    This information is provided in accordance with section 423 
of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. No. 104-
4).
    The Committee has determined that the bill does not contain 
Federal mandates on the private sector. The Committee has 
determined that the bill does not impose a Federal 
intergovernmental mandate on State, local, or tribal 
governments.

  D. Congressional Earmarks, Limited Tax Benefits, and Limited Tariff 
                                Benefits

    With respect to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee has carefully reviewed 
the provisions of the bill, and states that the provisions of 
the bill do not contain any congressional earmarks, limited tax 
benefits, or limited tariff benefits within the meaning of the 
rule.

                   E. Duplication of Federal Programs

    In compliance with Sec. 3(g)(2) of H. Res. 5 (114th 
Congress), the Committee states that no provision of the bill 
establishes or reauthorizes: (1) a program of the Federal 
Government known to be duplicative of another Federal program; 
(2) a program included in any report from the Government 
Accountability Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of 
Public Law 111-139; or (3) a program related to a program 
identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance, published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Pub. L. No. 95-220, as amended by Pub. L. No. 
98-169).

                 F. Disclosure of Directed Rule Makings

    In compliance with Sec. 3(i) of H. Res. 5 (114th Congress), 
the following statement is made concerning directed rule 
makings: The Committee estimates that the bill requires no 
directed rule makings within the meaning of such section.

                                  [all]