Additional Provisions of Note in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015
In addition to extending the solvency of the Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund through 2022, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which President Obama signed into law on November 2, 2015, included a number of other provisions not related to trust fund solvency.
The bill created a new felony for conspiracy to commit Social Security fraud, and increased prison time to 10 years (from 5 years) for any person in a position of trust (i.e. claimant representative, healthcare provider, Social Security Administration (SSA) employee, etc.) who is convicted of making false statements or knowingly perpetrating misrepresentations. The monetary penalty for each false statement, misrepresentation, or omission that individual is responsible for is now $7,500 (an increase of $2,500). Finally, an individual who is convicted of concealing work activity during a trial work period and is subject to a monetary penalty for doing so will not be eligible for any benefits thereafter.
The bill also included provisions for modernizing the way the SSA conducts business. One such example is that as of November 3, 2016, the SSA will be allowed to gather beneficiary earnings data (with the beneficiary’s consent) from payroll providers via an electronic data exchange. And as of September 30, 2017, the SSA will be required to employ an electronic reporting system for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries’ earnings.
Finally, the bill allows the SSA to consider earnings earned when paid when it is ascertaining whether or not an individual’s earnings surpass Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) levels in a given month. This holds unless the SSA is able to determine that the earnings were earned in a different month, or the individual is able to provide information or evidence to establish that no benefit is payable.