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are aware, SSA's "800" number telephone service will be transferred to FTS 2000 on October 1, 1991.
MOVING "800" SERVICE TO FTS2000
Question. What is the status of GSA's plan to switch your "800" telephone to FTS2000?
Answer: The migration of the SSA telecommunications workload to FTS 2000 is progressing very well. The "800" number service and backbone network will be moved by September 27, 1991 and September 15, 1991 respectively. The transition of 1,300 field offices to FTS2000 will be finished by December 31, 1991.
Question. How much more would this cost than the amount included in your fiscal 1992 budget request?
Answer. Our FY 1992 budget request includes $56,282,000 which is our current estimate of "800" number line charge costs under FTS 2000.
Question. What is the Social Security Administration's position on this issue, and what options are being pursued to resolve this issue?
Answer. We are concerned about the migration to FTS 2000 because our "800" number will be changed. After exploring other options, we learned that the entire Government is mandated by law to migrate to FTS 2000. We are committed to doing the best we can to make this transition successful.
AUTOMATED MARRIAGE DATA EXCHANGE
Question. The Inspector General's Office, in a September 1990 report, urged you to initiate an automated marriage data exchange with State Bureaus of Vital Statistics to issue updated Social Security number cards. Do you agree with the Inspector General's estimate that this would save $7 million in administrative costs?
Answer. We believe that although the concept of the Inspector General's proposal is good, the administrative savings would be substantially less than the estimated $7 million. Because many factors are unknown at this time it is difficult to determine whether this effort would be cost effective.
The Inspector General's estimate is based on estimated savings of SSA's enumeration at birth program. We think that the savings generated by the enumeration at birth program are not fully relevant to an automated marriage data exchange. For instance, while all of the States' birth records are fairly consistent in capturing information necessary for enumeration, marriage records differ from State to State and often do not include all of the information necessary for SSA to issue name change replacement cards. In fact, only one State captures most of the data SSA needs to produce a replacement card and only 30 States have computerized marriage records. Another significant difference is citizenship which is assumed in the enumeration at birth program could not be assumed in the automated marriage data exchange process. For these reasons, the Inspector General's proposal would require us to
enter into extensive negotiations with each State in order to get them to collect and submit the information that SSA needs.
Also, the Inspector General's estimate does not consider fees which States will, in all likelihood, charge for obtaining and submitting the additional information needed by SSA.
Finally, we believe the number of cases resulting in edits and alerts which our field offices would have to develop will be much higher than the 3 percent assumed in the Inspector General's estimate.
Question. What is being done to implement these recommendations?
Answer. We have no objection, in principle, to using computerized marriage records to detect unreported marriages. However, from a practical point of view, we doubt the OIG proposal would be cost effective, nor would it be a workable program. Overall, we considered OIG's projection of costs, size and complexity of workloads to be significantly underestimated. Moreover, in the long run, we believe the overall administrative costs would substantially reduce any savings realized. Therefore, SSA did not concur with the OIG recommendation.
SSA AND DOMESTIC DISCRETIONARY "CAPS"
Question. Some members of Congress maintain that Social Security administrative costs should be excluded from the domestic caps. Explain why OMB has decided to include these administrative costs within the domestic discretionary caps?
Answer. OMB's General Counsel (GC) has reviewed the question of whether the Social Security trust funds should be excluded from the domestic discretionary spending category. The GC acknowledged that the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 contains a provision generally excluding receipts and disbursements of the Social Security trust funds from being subject to sequestration under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law.
Several other provisions in the law, however, support the other interpretation. As a result, the GC concluded that the new law best supports classifying the Social Security administrative expense as being under the domestic discretionary cap.
QUESTION SUBMITTTED BY SENATOR ARLEN SPECTER
PENDING COURT CASES
Question. Do you know of any other cases that are currently pending before the courts that could potentially have the same impact on SSA as the Zebley case?
Answer. Four class action cases are currently pending before the courts that could potentially have a major impact on SSA.
I cannot say that they would have the same impact as Zebley because
Zebley is currently the only nationwide class action against the
Stieberger, et al. v. Sullivan, a New York statewide class
Johnson, et al. v. Sullivan, an Illinois statewide class action which challenges the Secretary's standard for evaluating nonsevere impairments.
QUESTIONS SUBMITTTED BY SENATOR MARK O. HATFIELD
RESOURCES FOR OUTREACH
Question. How much is requested in your FY 1992 budget for this outreach program and how much will be carried over from FY 1991?
Answer. The FY 1992 request includes $3 million for the SSI outreach project. The budget assumes the $6 million appropriated by the Congress will be obligated in FY 1991. However, as I have said previously, before we spend $6 million in FY 1991, we want to make sure that we are funding projects which are likely to succeed. Once I am satisfied we will get meaningful results, we will fund new cooperative agreements to target needy populations with high levels of nonparticipation in the Supplemental Security Income program and in areas of limited accessibility due to rural location or language barriers.
Question. How many grants and contracts have been awarded at this time?
Answer. SSA awarded 25 cooperative grants totalling nearly $3 million in the fall of 1990.
Question. As a result of this program, how many people have been identified as eligible for ssi benefits? Are all of these people now receiving benefits?
Answer. 23 of 25 cooperative agreements for SSI outreach demonstration projects became operational on October 1, 1990; one began on December 1 and the other on February 1 of this year. The actual outreach from most of these projects began in the second quarter of FY 1991. Although it is too early to have accurate counts of individuals identified as eligibles through these 25 cooperative grants, we have a tracking system in place from which to obtain such data.
Question. I understand that the Administration on Aging and the Health Care Financing Administration are also participating in this effort. How much are these agencies contributing to the cost of the outreach program?
Answer. Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the heads of SSA, the Administration on Aging (AOA) and the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA) in late 1989, agencies' staff coordinated a number of projects on behalf of the elderly. As a result of collaborative effort, AoA awarded 7 grants totaling about $1 million in FY 1990 which focus on SSA's SSI outreach program.
Also, both AoA and HCFA were very supportive of SSA's representative payee outreach effort and helped SSA to identify organizations which would serve as representative payees for persons unable to manage their own funds, AoA and SSA are jointly funding a grant to improve the selection process for representative payees.
Finally, AOA, SSA and HCFA are jointly and individually engaged in a number of efforts to improve client education and access to agency programs and processes, including the development of a pamphlet for joint use containing simple descriptions of each agency's eligibility requirements. These activities will contribute to SSA's efforts to reach the many individuals who are eligible for benefits but have not yet applied for them.
QUESTION SUBMITTTED BY SENATOR HARRY REID
CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
Question. Nevadans seeking Social Security disability benefits for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome have experienced many difficulties obtaining them, which has resulted in a lot of constituent complaints to my State offices. The Subcommittee on Appropriations asked SSA for a report, by the end of the first quarter of this fiscal year, on disability matters related to chronic fatigue syndrome. Has this report been issued? Can you summarize this report for us?
Answer. The report on chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) was forwarded to the Committee on March 15, 1991. The report summarizes the medical community's knowledge about this condition. While a number of research initiatives are underway to determine the underlying reasons and causes for the varied manifestations of the disorder, the etiology and pathology of the disorder have not yet been established. Also, there is no standard laboratory test currently available that is specific for the diagnosis of CFS.
Because symptoms alone are insufficient to establish disability under the law, CFS cases are being carefully adjudicated on a caseby-case basis using the totality of the available evidence
including a thorough evaluation of the claimant's clinical course and the impact of the disorder on his or her functional capabilities.
The report summarizes SSA's initiatives, including updates of our guidelines for adjudicating such cases and refresher training given to the disability adjudicators who process these cases, and cites our cooperative ventures with other health agencies and the special internal review initiative scheduled for completion this spring
SUBCOMMITTEE RECESS Senator HARKIN. Thank you. The subcommittee will stand in recess until 10 a.m., Tuesday, March 12, when we will meet in SD192 to hear from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, and Centers for Disease Control.
[Whereupon, at 4:04 p.m., Thursday, March 7, the subcommittee was recessed, to reconvene at 1 p.m., Tuesday, March 12.]