TH: House Overturns Sharing Names of SSDI/SSI Recipients with Criminal Background Check System

NYAPRS Note: The House has overturned a federal regulation that would have required the Social Security Administration to forward the names of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients who use a representative payee to help manage their benefits due to a mental impairment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
NYAPRS joined a broad array of disability and rights advocates in urging Congress’ action here since the rule would wrongly perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes of individuals with mental disabilities as dangerous while diverting already too-scarce SSA resources away from efforts to address SSA’s longstanding backlog of unprocessed benefits applications. See below for our letter of support for this action.

The bill now goes to the Senate for action. Stay tuned….

House Votes To Overturn Obama Gun Rule
By Time Devaney THe Hill February 2, 2017

The House on Thursday struck down an Obama-era regulation that could block some recipients of disability benefits from buying guns.

The House voted 235-180to roll back a rule that required the Social Security Administration to report people who receive disability benefits and have a mental health condition to the FBI’s background check system. The database is used to determine eligibility for buying a firearm.

Critics said the rule stripped Second Amendment rights from people who are not dangerously mentally ill, such as those who have eating disorders or mental disorders that prevent them from managing their own finances.

�Supporters of the rule said the step was necessary to keep guns away from peoplewith mental disorders like schizophrenia and severe anxiety.

�Under the rule, which is set to take force in December, the Social Security Administration (SSA) rule would report disability recipients with severe mental disorders to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

People entered into the system would be able to apply for relief from the SSA, but not until after their names were sent to the FBI. They would also be able to appeal in court.

House Republicans turned to the Congressional Review Act to overturn the regulation. The law allows lawmakers to roll back rules they disapprove of. Critically for Republicans, the resolutions cannot be filibustered in the Senate….

http://thehill.com/regulation/317634-house-republicans-block-obama-era-gun-rule
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Here’s a copy of a letter NYAPRS sent to both Senate and House leaders last week.

On behalf of thousands of New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) urges you to support a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to disapprove the Final Rule issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) on December 19, 2016, “Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.”

By way of reference, NYAPRS is a 36 year old statewide coalition that has brought together New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities and community recovery providers to advance policies, programs and social conditions that advance recovery, rehabilitation, rights and community inclusion.

This rule would require the Social Security Administration to forward the names of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefit recipients who use a representative payee to help manage their benefits due to a mental impairment to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The rule is inconsistent with the statute it implements, has no evidentiary justification, would wrongly perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes of individuals with mental disabilities as dangerous, and would divert already too-scarce SSA resources away from efforts to address the agency’s longstanding backlog of unprocessed benefits applications toward a mission in which the agency has little expertise.

First, there is no statutory basis for the rule. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) statute authorizes the reporting of an individual to the NICS database on the basis of a determination that the person “lacks the capacity to contract or manage his own affairs” as a result of “marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency condition or disease.”[1] The appointment of a representative payee simply does not meet this standard. It indicates only that the individual needs help managing benefits received from SSA.

Second, the rule puts in place an ineffective strategy to address gun violence, devoid of any evidentiary basis, targeting individuals with representative payees and mental impairments as potential perpetrators of gun violence. In doing so, it also creates a false sense that meaningful action has been taken to address gun violence and detracts from potential prevention efforts targeting actual risks for gun violence.

Third, the rule perpetuates the prevalent false association of mental disabilities with violence and undermines important efforts to promote community integration and employment of people with disabilities. The rule may also dissuade people with mental impairments from seeking appropriate treatment or services, or from applying for financial and medical assistance programs.

Finally, the rule creates enormous new burdens on SSA without providing any additional resources. Implementation of the rule will divert scarce resources away from the core work of the SSA at a time when the agency is struggling to overcome record backlogs and prospective beneficiaries are waiting for months and years for determinations of their benefits eligibility. Moreover, SSA lacks the expertise to make the determinations about safety that it would be called upon to make as part of the relief process established by the rule.

Based on similar concerns, the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency charged with advising the President, Congress, and other federal agencies regarding disability policy, has urged Congress to use the Congressional Review Act to repeal this rule. We urge Congress to act, through the CRA process, to disapprove this new rule and prevent the damage that it inflicts on the disability community.

Sincerely,

Harvey Rosenthal

Executive Director