Statement on Signing a Bill Amending the Social Security Disability Insurance System

January 12, 1983

I am today signing H.R. 7093. This bill enhances the quality and fairness of the social security disability insurance system. It also helps us to maintain the integrity of the disability rolls while protecting the legitimate rights of both beneficiaries and contributors.

When this administration took office, reports by the General Accounting Office and others indicated that thousands of people who were not disabled were drawing social security disability benefits. Several billion dollars a year were being spent to support people who were not, in fact, disabled. The previous administration and the 96th Congress had agreed that the Department of Health and Human Services should correct this situation by implementing measures passed by the Congress in 1980. These measures provided for reviewing the status of those receiving social security disability benefits.

Over the past year and a half, the Department of Health and Human Services has improved the administrative processes for determining who should receive disability benefits. To help beneficiaries understand the review process, the Department now begins each continuing disability investigation with an interview in local offices.

With the signing of this bill today, I am pleased to add some useful statutory changes to the administrative initiatives that have already been taken. H.R. 7093 requires a face-to-face hearing as the first step in the appeals process. Such a hearing gives the individual a personal opportunity to present all of the evidence concerning his or her disability. This should make the process more fair for beneficiaries and provide an additional source of information for those responsible for administering the program. As an added safety measure and to avoid financial hardship for those whose benefits may be mistakenly terminated, this bill permits the continued payment of disability benefits during the appeals process.

H.R. 7093 represents a welcome step by the Congress towards improving the disability appeals process.

In addition, this bill reduces from 30 percent to 10 percent the rate of Virgin Islands tax imposed on certain payments of Virgin Islands source income to U.S. corporations, citizens, and resident aliens. The lowering of the tax rate will significantly encourage U.S. investment in the Virgin Islands and will give the Virgin Islands parity with Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Note: As enacted, H.R. 7093 is Public Law 97 - 455, approved January 12.