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Posts Tagged ‘disability’

Social Security Administration Ends Paper Checks

Thursday, May 5th, 2011

According to the Whidbey News Times, the Social Security Administration is entering a new age – the agency is set to go paperless beginning May 1. Social Security checks are going paperless, as the U.S. Treasury Department retires paper checks for electronic payments.

The Treasury Department said this is a cost-saving measure, which will not be fully implemented until May 2013. The new system plans to reduce government expenses by $1 billion over the next decade as millions of individuals apply for monthly Social Security benefits. Disabled individuals enrolled in the Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income will start receiving electronic deposits into bank accounts or debit cards.

Eighteen million baby boomers are expected to start drawing out monthly Social Security payments in the next five years, which would offer further cost-saving to the administration.

Direct deposit has long been an option for Social Security Disability Insurance recipients and others, and in fact, most recipients of federal checks already receive electronic payments. Currently, 11 million people still receive benefits from the government through the mail. Some do not have bank accounts or simply do not trust large financial institutions.

Individuals receiving benefits will have a choice of having payments directly deposited into a bank or credit union account to have the money loaded onto a prepaid debit card. For individuals who have no bank accounts, the Direct Express will be available as an alternative and the card is easy to use at most places.

Billed Signed Offering New Social Security Disability Support Program

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

According to the Greeley Tribune, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, would help fund a disability benefits support program for individuals who have been declared disabled. The bill was signed into law by Govenor John Hickenlooper. According to Riesberg, too many disabled individuals feel that they no longer have options. The Democrat hopes the bill would be an innovative way to help fund the effort to reach out and empower disabled individuals to apply for benefits they’re entitled to.

The measure, House Bill 216, allows the state to auction personalized license plates that have been retired. Money raised from the sale of these plates will fund the creation of a disability support program, called Laura Hershey Memorial Disability Benefits Support Program. Through the program, individuals will receive education, direct assistance and advocacy. Individuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income will be able to enroll in the support program.

Meanwhile, Senator Herb Kohl said that every interest group should be fighting to prevent budget cuts to programs such as Medicare and Social Security. In order to balance the budget, each group should be willing to make sacrifices. Rather than making dramatic changes, Kohl said the Congress needs to find ways to make the program more efficient. Kohl supports the idea that the wealthiest Americans should not get tax cuts and that such breaks do not make sense when social programs are experiences trouble.

Managing Social Security Reform, Without Affecting Disability Claims

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

According to the interim chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, the Social Security reform movement is an awakening, so to speak, for the majority of Americans who are concerned about the budget priorities of the Republican Party. Donna Brazile said that the attempt by Republicans to cut the deficit by making Social Security budget cuts is hurtful to seniors and middle-class Americans depending on their disability benefits.

However, the budget dilemma cannot be ignored. Postponing decisions on Social Security while it is manageable may become harder to solve once the program is in jeopardy, according to the Daily News Pulse. It may be easier to collect taxes on more of high earners’ incomes while most of the baby boom generation is still working. The sooner the taxes go up on the rich, the more money will be brought in, according to some experts. What’s more, increasing taxes and lowering benefits for the affluent will be easier for the general public to accept.

The Democrats have recently suggested raising the retirement age. It seems that everything else goes up around us, including gas. Increasing the federal gasoline tax by 25 cents a gallon would generate $291 billion from 2012 to 2021. Increasing the retirement age from 62 and 66 to 64 and 70 may also generate money into the Social Security trust fund, which would mean savings of about $264 billion in benefits.

According to the National Stroke Association’s CEO James Baranski, individuals collecting disability claims in the world of Social Security face a lot of challenges. The process of applying for disability claims is difficult, cutting costs in the program could directly affect such claimants as stroke victims. Often, stroke victims are working with a deficit while trying to meet deadlines and fulfill all the application requirements.

SSA Office Increases Use of Video Teleconferencing Tools

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

According to FCW, the Social Security Administration is battling a backlog of disability hearings by utilizing video conferencing. The administration has tripled its use of video conferencing for adjudication hearings in recent years. The process allows the agency flexibility in managing its workload. According to a recent report, number of hearings for disability caseload increased from 23,000 in 2005 to 84,000 in 2009.

In 2010, the agency saw an even larger number of claims and hearings, especially due to a hurting economy and decreased employment opportunities for disabled workers. Likewise, the number of video teleconferencing hearings increased from about six percent to 18 percent.

Overall, the Social Security Administration has been satisfied by the use of teleconferencing services. The technology helps the program combat a nationwide backlog of cases. The SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review began using video hearings in 1999 for claims involving Social Security Disability Insurance. An Administrative Law Judge remains in their office, while claimants appear in a video conferencing room, typically in an SSA office. The full-room units are housed in fixed permanent locations serving SSA regions. If one office has a heavy workload, it can transfer some of its hearings to a remote video teleconferencing location.

Some offices use the equipment often. About 15 percent of the offices used video for 15 percent to 30 percent of the time, and 18 percent of offices used video for 30 percent to 50 percent of their time.
It is not required for an Administrative Law Judge to use the system and some judges still prefer an in-person, human connection with a claimant.