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SSA issues final rules implementing the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007

The SSA has issued final rules to implement provisions of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (NIAA), which requires federal agencies to provide relevant records to the Attorney General for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Under these final rules, the agency will identify, on a prospective basis, individuals who receive disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under Title XVI of the Act who also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual's mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments (listings) and receipt of benefits through a representative payee. The SSA will provide pertinent information about these individuals to the Attorney General on not less than a quarterly basis. As required by the NIAA, at the commencement of the adjudication process the agency also will notify individuals, both orally and in writing, of their possible federal prohibition on possessing or receiving firearms, the consequences of such prohibition, the criminal penalties for violating the Gun Control Act, and the availability of relief from the prohibition on the receipt or possession of firearms imposed by federal law. Finally, the SSA also establishes a program that permits individuals to request relief from the federal firearms prohibitions based on its adjudication. These changes will allow the SSA to fulfill responsibilities that it has under the NIAA. The final rule will be effective on January 18, 2017; however, compliance is not required until December 19, 2017.

Proposed rules adopted with only small changes

The SSA has adopted the proposed rules as final rules, with several changes outlined in the discussion of the public comments and the agency's responses. The final rules allow an individual to apply for relief any time after the SSA's adjudication that he or she meets the requirements of the federal mental health prohibitor has become final. The final rules also set out several circumstances in which the SSA will notify the Attorney General to remove an individual's name from the NICS. The agency also made minor changes to the definition of the term "affected individual" in section 421.105 and to section 421.110(b)(2). The changes in both of these sections are for clarity, and do not substantively change the rules. See 81 Fed. Reg. 91702, December 29, 2016.