Potential Gun Control Regulations for SSA Beneficiaries

Posted May 6, 2016 by Premier Disability Services, LLC® The Social Security Administration (SSA) proposed a rule on the Federal Register that could impact some beneficiaries’ ability to own or purchase firearms. The proposed rule was added on May 5, 2016. Under this proposed rule, SSA would identify individuals who receive Disability Insurance Benefits (Title II) and/or Supplemental Security Income (Title XVI) benefits and who meet certain criteria. These criteria include:

  • The claimant has been awarded benefits based on a finding that they meet or equal a listing in section 12.00; and
  • The claimant receives benefits through a representative payee.

To be clear, this proposed rule does not intend to take guns away from anyone who receives Social Security Disability benefits or who is mentally ill. This rule focuses on a smaller subset of beneficiaries. Keep in mind that in order to meet a listing under Section 12.00 a claimant must meet a very specific level of severity. Section 12.00 is dedicated to the listings for severe psychiatric impairments. Considering the vast number of claimants who file disability benefits alleging some sort of mental illness, only a small percentage will meet or equal a medical listing. Further, this rule indicates that another factor that is considered will be if the beneficiary requires a representative payee. A representative payee is appointed when the claimant is unable to manage their own benefits. Considering these two factors together, it is clear that SSA is targeting those beneficiaries who suffer from very serious mental illnesses.

According to the rule, SSA will report beneficiaries who meet these criteria to the Attorney General for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This information will be reported quarterly and SSA will also notify the beneficiary of their possible Federal prohibition on possessing or receiving firearms. Finally, the proposed rule includes a possibility for appealing placement on the Federal firearms prohibition.

This rule, while relatively narrow in its inclusion of beneficiaries, has been met with strong scrutiny from claimants, beneficiaries, and pro-firearm organizations alike. It is important to keep in mind that this is only a proposal at this time. There is a 60 day period during which formal comments can be submitted. Following this 60 day period, it will be interesting to see if this proposal develops into a Final Rule, and whether the rule continues in its current format or aspects are changed.

For more information about this proposed rule, see https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/05/05/2016-10424/implementation-of-the-nics-improvement-amendments-act-of-2007

By: Devon Brady of Premier Disability Services, LLC®