Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
We also propose to make several minor clarifications and corrections to our current procedures and practices on claims against the Government for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or death that is caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an SSA employee. We have also rewritten the current rules on such claims in plain language.
The electronic file of this document is available on the Internet at
The MPCECA, 31 U.S.C. 3721, establishes the guidelines Federal agencies must follow when an agency employee files a claim for personal property damage or loss incurred incident to his or her Federal service. Under the MPCECA, the head of each Federal agency is required to promulgate its own regulations setting forth the procedures and practices the agency will follow in handling such claims (31 U.S.C. 3721(j)). The Social Security Independence and Improvements Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103-296) established SSA as an independent agency in the executive branch of the United States Government effective March 31, 1995 and vested general regulatory authority in the Commissioner of Social Security. In order to comply with the requirement in the MPCECA that SSA have its own regulations dealing with employee claims, we propose to establish a new subpart B in part 429 of Title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
The proposed rules in new subpart B of part 429 are modeled after those routinely published by other Federal agencies and would contain the following sections:
• Section 429.201 would explain that the new subpart applies to employee claims under the MPCECA, set a $40,000 limit on the amount of payment for a claim, and define several terms used throughout the subpart.
• Section 429.202 would explain the procedures an employee should follow to file a claim for personal property loss or damage incident to service.
• Section 429.203 would explain the circumstances under which a claim for personal property loss or damage is allowable.
• Section 429.204 would describe the restrictions that apply to employee claims for personal property damage or loss.
• Section 429.205 would contain a list of the types of losses that are not allowable under subpart B.
• Section 429.206 would explain the procedures that are applicable when a claim involves a commercial carrier or an insurer.
• Section 429.207 would explain how an employee should file a claim for personal property damage or loss.
• Section 429.208 would explain how the SSA Claims Officer determines the amount of an award.
• Section 429.209 would contain the maximum fee an agent or attorney may receive for his/her services in connection with an individual claim under subpart B.
• Section 429.210 would explain the appeal process for claims under subpart B.
• Section 429.211 would contain the penalties for filing false claims.
These proposed rules would also modify our existing rules dealing with the procedures SSA follows when
• We would revise § 429.101 to reflect the statutory provision in the FTCA that the FTCA does not apply to those tort claims identified in 28 U.S.C. 2680. Our current rules do not contain this statutory limitation.
• We would revise § 429.103 to correct the mailing address in this section.
• We would revise the time limit in § 429.104 for submitting evidence in a claim for money damages from 3 months to 60 days. Under the FTCA, this time limit is to be determined by the agency and we believe 60 days constitutes a reasonable limit for submitting evidence after being asked to do so.
• We would revise § 429.107 to clarify an ambiguity in current regulations. If a claim is approved that exceeds $2500, our rules would be revised to specify that the payment will come from the Judgment Fund in the Department of the Treasury, rather than from SSA. This reflects current procedure and the proposed change would only serve to increase the efficiency of the claims process and to speed delivery of the payment to the claimant.
• We propose to revise the penalties for filing false claims to reflect changes in both the criminal and civil False Claims Act.
We also propose to rewrite the existing regulations on tort claims to comply with Executive Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13258, which requires Federal agencies to write all rules in plain language. None of these plain language changes are substantive; they are merely intended to make the existing regulations more readable and easier to understand.
As explained above, Executive Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13258, require each agency to write all rules in plain language. In addition to your substantive comments on this proposed rule, we invite your comments on how to make this proposed rule easier to understand.
• Have we organized the material to suit your needs?
• Are the requirements in the rule clearly stated?
• Does the rule contain technical language or jargon that is not clear?
• Would a different format (grouping and order of sections, use of headings, paragraphing) make the rule easier to understand?
• What else could we do to make the rule easier to understand?
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed these proposed rules in accordance with Executive Order 12866, as amended by Executive Order 13258.
We certify that the proposed rules, if promulgated, will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it only affects individuals. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis as provided in the Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended, is not required.
These proposed rules contain reporting requirements as shown in the table below. Where the public reporting burden is accounted for in InformationCollection Requests for the various forms that the public uses to submit the information to SSA, a 1-hour placeholder burden is being assigned to the specific reporting requirement(s) contained in these rules.
An Information Collection Request has been submitted to OMB for clearance.We are soliciting comments on the burden estimate; the need for the information; its practical utility; ways to enhance its quality, utility and clarity; and on ways to minimize the burden on respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments may be faxed or mailed to the Social SecurityAdministration at the following address:Social Security Administration,Attn: SSA Reports Clearance Officer,Rm. 1338 Annex Building, 6401 Security Boulevard,Baltimore, MD 21235-6401.Fax No. 410-965-6400.
Comments can be received for between 30 and 60 days after publication of this notice and will be most useful if received by SSA within 30 days of publication.
Administrative practice and procedure, Government employees, Indemnity payments, Tort claims.
For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to revise part 429 of chapter III of title 20 of the Code of Federal Regulations to read as follows:
Sect. 702(a)(5) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C.902(a)(5)); 28 U.S.C. 2672; 28 CFR 14.11; 31 U.S.C. 3721.
This subpart applies only to claims filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act, as amended, 28 U.S.C. 2671-2680 (FTCA), for money damages against the United States for damage to or loss of property or personal injury or death that is caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The loss, damage, injury or death must be caused by the employee in the performance of his or her official duties, under circumstances in which the United States, if a private person, would be liable in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred. This subpart does not apply to any tort claims excluded from the FTCA under 28 U.S.C. 2680.
(b) This subpart is subject to and consistent with the regulations on administrative claims under the FTCA issued by the Attorney General at 28CFR part 14.
(1) Proof of ownership.
(2) A detailed statement of the amount claimed with respect to each item of property.
(3) An itemized receipt of payment for necessary repairs or itemized written estimates of the cost of such repairs.
(4) A statement listing date of purchase, purchase price, market value of the property as of date of damage, and salvage value, where repair is not economical.
(5) Any other evidence or information which may have a bearing either on the responsibility of the United States for the injury to or loss of property or the damages claimed.
(1) A written report from your attending physician or dentist setting forth the nature and extent of your injury, nature and extent of treatment, any degree of temporary or permanent disability, your prognosis, period of hospitalization, and any diminished earning capacity. You may also be required to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician employed or designated by SSA. If you submit a written request, we will
(2) Itemized bills for medical, dental, and hospital expenses incurred, or itemized receipts of payment for such expenses.
(3) If your prognosis reveals that you will need future treatment, a statement of expected duration of and expenses for such treatment.
(4) If you claim a loss of time from employment, a written statement from your employer showing actual time lost from employment, whether you are a full or part-time employee, and wages or salary you actually lost.
(5) If you claim a loss of income and are self-employed, documentary evidence showing the amount of earnings you actually lost. For example, we may use income tax returns for several years prior to the injury in question and the year in which the injury occurred to indicate or measure lost income; a statement of how much it cost you to hire someone to do the same work you were doing at the time of the injury might also be used in measuring lost income.
(6) Any other evidence or information that may have a bearing on either the responsibility of the United States for the personal injury or the damages claimed.
(1) An authenticated death certificate or other believable documentation showing cause of death, date of death, and your age at the time of death.
(2) Your employment or occupation at time of death, including your monthly or yearly salary or earnings (if any), and the duration of your last employment or occupation.
(3) Full names, addresses, birth dates, kinship, and marital status of your survivors, including identification of those survivors who were dependent upon you for support at the time of your death.
(4) Degree of support you provided to each survivor dependent on you for support at the time of your death.
(5) Your general physical and mental condition before death.
(6) Itemized bills for medical and burial expenses incurred, or itemized receipts of payments for such expenses.
(7) If damages for pain and suffering prior to death are claimed, a physician's detailed statement specifying the injuries suffered, duration of pain and suffering, any drugs administered for pain and your physical condition in the interval between injury and death.
(8) Any other evidence or information which may have a bearing on either the responsibility of the United States for the death or the damages claimed.
When we receive your claim, we will investigate to determine its validity. After our investigation, we will forward your claim to the SSA Claims Officer with our recommendation as to whether your claim should be fully or partially allowed or denied.
(a) If your claim is denied, the SSA Claims Officer will send you, your agent, or your legal representative a written notice by certified or registered mail. The notice will include an explanation of why your claim was denied and will advise you of your right to file suit in an appropriateU.S. District Court not later than 6 months after the date of the mailing of the notice if you disagree with the determination.
(b) Before filing suit and before expiration of the 6-month period after the date of the mailing of the denial notice, you, your duly authorized agent, or your legal representative may file a written request with SSA for reconsideration by certified or registered mail. If you file a timely request for reconsideration, SSA has 6 months from the date you file your request in which to finally dispose of your claim. Your right to file suit will not begin until 6 months after you file your request for reconsideration. Final SSA action on your request for reconsideration will occur in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section.
If you, your agent, or your legal representative accept any award, compromise or settlement under this subpart, your acceptance is final and conclusive on you, your agent or representative and any other person on whose behalf or for whose benefit the claim was filed. The acceptance constitutes a complete release of any claim against the United States and against any employee of the Government whose act or omission gave rise to the claim, by reason of the same subject matter.
A person who files a false claim or makes a false or fraudulent statement in a claim against the United States may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years. (18 U.S.C. Secs. 287; 1001). In addition, that person may be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000 and damages of triple the loss or damage sustained by the United States, as well as the costs of a civil action brought to recover any penalty or damages. (31 U.S.C. Sec. 3729).
(a) An award, compromise or settlement of a claim under this subpart in excess of $25,000 needs the prior written approval of the Attorney General or his designee. For the purposes of this paragraph, we treat a principal claim and any derivative or subrogated claim as a single claim.
(b) An administrative claim may be adjusted, determined, compromised or settled under this subpart only after consultation with the Department of Justice when, in the opinion of SSA:
(1) A new precedent or a new point of law is involved; or
(2) A question of policy is or may be involved; or
(3) The United States is or may be entitled to indemnity or contribution from a third party and SSA is unable to adjust the third party claim; or
(4) The compromise of a particular claim, as a practical matter, will or may control the disposition of a related claim in which the amount to be paid may exceed $25,000.
(c) An administrative claim may be adjusted, determined, compromised or settled only after consultation with the Department of Justice when it is learned that the United States or an employee, agent or cost plus contractor of the United States is involved in litigation based on a claim arising out of the same incident or transaction.
(1) You, your duly authorized agent, your legal representative or your survivor may file the claim. If your survivor files the claim, the order of precedence for filing is spouse, child, parent, sibling.
(2) You may not file a claim on behalf of a subrogee, assignee, conditional vendor or other third party.
(1) A written statement, signed by you or your authorized agent, explaining how the damage or loss occurred. This statement must also include:
(i) A description of the type, design, model number or other identification of the property.
(ii) The date you purchased or acquired the property and its original cost.
(iii) The location of the property when the loss or damage occurred.
(iv) The value of the property when lost or damaged.
(v) The actual or estimated cost of the repair of any damaged item.
(vi) The purpose of and authority for travel, if the loss or damage occurred while you were transporting your property or using a motor vehicle.
(vii) All available information as to who was responsible for the loss or damage, if it was not you, and all information as to insurance contracts, whether in your name or in the name of the responsible party.
(viii) Any other evidence about loss or damage that the SSA Claims Officer determines is necessary.
(2) Copies of all available and appropriate documents such as bills of sale, estimates of repairs, or travel orders. In the case of damage to an automobile, you must submit at least two estimates of repair or a certified paid bill showing the damage incurred and the cost of all parts, labor and other items necessary to the repair of the vehicle or a statement from an authorized dealer or repair garage showing that the cost of such repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle.
(3) A copy of the power of attorney or other authorization if someone else files the claim on your behalf.
(4) A statement from your immediate supervisor confirming that possession of the property was reasonable, useful or proper under the circumstances and that the damage or loss was incident to your service.
(1) The time of the accident or incident causing the loss or damage;
(2) The time the loss or damage should have been discovered by the claimant by the exercise of due diligence; or
(3) Where valid circumstances prevented you from filing your claim earlier, the time that should be construed as the date of accrual because of a circumstance which prevents the filing of a claim. If war or armed conflict prevents you from filing the claim, your claim accrues on the date hostilities terminate and your claim must be filed within two years of that date.
(a) A claim is allowable only if you were using the property incident to your service with SSA, with the knowledge and consent of a superior authority, and:
(1) The damage or loss was not caused wholly or partially by the negligent or improper action or inaction of you, your agent, the members of your family, or your private employee (the standard to be applied is that of reasonable care under the circumstances); and
(2) The possession of the property lost or damaged and the quantity and the quality possessed is determined to have been reasonable, useful or proper under the circumstances; and
(3) The claim is substantiated by proper and convincing evidence.
(b) Claims that are otherwise allowable under this subpart will not be disallowed solely because you were not the legal owner of the property for which the claim is made.
(c) Subject to the conditions in paragraph (a) of this section and the other provisions of this subpart, any claim you make for damage to, or loss of, personal property that occurs incident to your service with SSA may be considered and allowed. For the purpose of this subpart, if you were performing your official duties at an alternate work location under an approved flexiplace agreement, the alternate work location will be considered an official duty station even if it is located in your principal residence. The alternate work location is not considered to be quarters. The following are examples of the principal types of claims that are allowable, but these examples are not exclusive and other types of claims are allowable,
(i) Quarters within a state that were assigned to you or otherwise provided in kind by the United States; or
(ii) Any warehouse, office, working area or other place (except quarters) authorized or apparently authorized for the reception or storage of property.
(i) Enemy action or threat of enemy action, or combat, guerrilla, brigandage, or other belligerent activity, or unjust confiscation by a foreign power or its nationals.
(ii) Action you take to quiet a civil disturbance or to alleviate a public disaster.
(iii) Efforts you make to save human life or Government property.
Claims of the type described in this section are only allowable subject to the restrictions noted:
(i) You were required to use a motor vehicle for official Government business (official Government business, as used here, does not include travel, or parking incident to travel, between quarters and office, quarters and an approved telecommuting center, or use of vehicles for the convenience of the owner. However, it does include travel, and parking incident thereto, between quarters and an assigned place of duty specifically authorized by your supervisor as being more advantageous to the Government); or
(ii) Shipment of such motor vehicles was being furnished or provided by the Government, subject to the provisions of § 429.206 of this chapter; or
(2) When a claim involves damage to or loss of automobile or other motor vehicle, you will be required to present proof of insurance coverage, the deductible amount, and the amount, if any, you recovered from the insurer.If your claim is for an amount that exceeds the deductible on the insurance policy, the maximum allowable recovery will be for the amount of the deductible. If the vehicle is uninsured, the maximum allowed will be$500.00.
Claims are not allowable for the following:
In the event the property which is the subject of the claim was lost or damaged while in the possession of a commercial carrier or was insured, the following procedures will apply:
(a) Whenever property is damaged, lost or destroyed while being shipped pursuant to authorized travel orders, the owner must file a written claim for reimbursement with the last commercial carrier known or believed to have handled the goods, or the carrier known to be in possession of the property when the damage or loss occurred, according to the terms of its bill of lading or contract, before submitting a claim against the Government under this subpart.
(b) Whenever property is damaged, lost or destroyed incident to your service and is insured in whole or in part, you must make demand in writing against the insurer for reimbursement under the terms and conditions of the insurance coverage, before filing a claim against the Government.
(c) Failure to make a demand on a carrier or insurer or to make all reasonable efforts to protect and prosecute rights available against a carrier or insurer and to collect the amount recoverable from the carrier or insurer may result in reducing the amount recoverable from the Government by the maximum amount which would have been recoverable from the carrier or insurer had the claim been timely or diligently prosecuted. However, no deduction will be made where the circumstances of your service preclude reasonable filing of a claim or diligent prosecution, or the evidence indicates a demand was impracticable or would have been unavailing.
(d) After you file a claim against the carrier or insurer, you may immediately submit a claim under this subpart, without waiting until the carrier or insurer finally approves or denies your claim.
(1) Upon submitting your claim, you must certify whether you have not gained any recovery from a carrier or insurer, and enclose all pertinent correspondence.
(2) If the carrier or insurer has not taken final action on your claim, you must immediately tell the carrier or insurer to address all correspondence regarding the claim to the SSA Claims Officer, and you must provide a copy of this notice to the SSA Claims Officer.
(3) You must advise the SSA Claims Officer of any action the carrier or insurer takes on the claim and, upon request, must furnish all correspondence, documents, and other evidence pertinent to the matter.
(e) You must assign to the United States, to the extent you accept any payment on the claim, all rights, title and interest in any claim you may have against any carrier, insurer, or other party arising out of the incident on which your claim against the United States is based. After payment of the claim by the United States, you must, upon receipt of any payment from a carrier or insurer, pay the proceeds to the United States to the extent of the payment you received from the United States.
(f) If you recover for the loss from the carrier or insurer before your claim under this subpart is settled, the amount of recovery will be applied to the claim as follows:
(1) If you recover an amount that is greater than or equal to your total loss as determined under this subpart, no compensation is allowable under this subpart.
(2) If you recover an amount that is less than such total loss, the allowable amount is determined by deducting the recovery from the amount of such total loss.
(3) For this purpose, your total loss is determined without regard to the maximum payment limitations set forth in § 429.201. However, if the resulting amount after making this deduction exceeds the maximum payment limitations, you will only be allowed the maximum amount set forth in § 429.201.
(g) In a claim arising from damage to an automobile or other motor vehicle, in no event may recovery exceed the reasonable deductible on the insurance policy.
(a) The amount allowable for damage to or loss of any item of property may not exceed the lowest of:
(1) The amount you requested for the item as a result of its loss, damage or the cost of its repair;
(2) The actual or estimated cost of its repair; or
(3) the actual value at the time of its loss, damage, or destruction. The actual value is determined by using the current replacement cost or the depreciated value of the item since you acquired it, whichever is lower, less any salvage value of the item in question, if you retain the item.
(b) Depreciation in value is determined by considering the type of article involved, its cost, its condition when damaged or lost, and the time
(c) Current replacement cost and depreciated value are determined by use of publicly available adjustment rates or through use of other reasonable methods at the discretion of the SSA Claims Officer.
(d) Replacement of lost or damaged property may be made in kind wherever appropriate at the discretion of the SSA Claims Officer.
(e) At the discretion of the SSA Claims Officer, you may be required to turn over an item alleged to have been damaged beyond economical repair to the United States, in which case no deduction for salvage value will be made in the calculation of actual value.
(f) Settlement of claims under the Act are final and conclusive.
No more than 10 per cent of the amount in settlement of each individual claim submitted and settled under this subpart shall be paid or delivered to or received by any agent or attorney on account of services rendered in connection with that claim. A person violating this subsection shall be fined not more than $1,000.00. (31 U.S.C. 3721(i))
A person who files a false claim or makes a false or fraudulent statement in a claim against the United States may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years (18 U.S.C. 287; 1001). In addition, that person may be liable for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000 and damages of triple the loss or damage sustained by the United States, as well as the costs of a civil action brought to recover any penalty or damages (31 U.S.C. 3729).