“Too many misleading, sensationalized reports are aiming to paint Social Security Disability Insurance in a negative light, when in reality, the facts tell a truly positive story,” said the executive director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives, or NOSSCR.
On Oct. 30, the Social Security Administration announced that beneficiaries of Supplemental Security Income will indeed be receiving slightly more in benefits next year due to a cost of living adjustment, or COLA. The 2014 COLA will increase benefits by 1.5 percent, which is roughly in line with last year’s increase of 1.7 percent.
The Social Security Administration and the federal Education, Labor and Health and Human Services departments recently announced grants for an exciting new project. In a joint effort, the agencies awarded more than $211 million to eleven states in a project meant to help children on Supplemental Security Income grow up to lead independent lives.
As you’re probably aware, the federal government shutdown began on Tuesday after Congress, for the first time in 17 years, was unable to agree on a budget resolution. The federal fiscal year begins n Oct. 1, which means that the laws allowing annual federal spending expired, and no further expenditures can be made.
As battles over the federal budget continue in Washington, some lawmakers have repeatedly questioned whether we’re being too generous to people with disabilities that keep them from working. In June, three members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee were harshly critical of many Social Security disability judges who, they claim, grant benefits in between 50 and 75 percent of the appeals they hear. Since the judges only see these cases after two previous denials, shouldn’t they be turning most of them down?
As we discussed on this blog in February, early this year the Treasury Department issued new rules about how federal benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income, are to be paid. The rules required most beneficiaries to switch from receiving paper checks to getting their benefits through direct deposit into a bank account or through pre-loaded Debit Express cards provided by Comerica Bank.
As we've discussed on this blog before, there has been a lot of talk lately about the fact that the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits in the U.S. has been rising rapidly -- and that rise appears to track with the unemployment rate, at least during the Great Recession. That interesting observation has led some people to conclude that many people who could work if jobs were readily available are instead choosing to use the Social Security disability system as a form of welfare. That makes people wonder whether we shouldn't limit SSDI and SSI benefits.
"SSI beneficiaries face the most severe levels of poverty of any group of Social Security beneficiaries," the head of the National Council on Disability, a federal agency tasked with giving independent policy information and advice to Congress and the White House, recently wrote to President Obama. "We urge you to incorporate common-sense program reforms to SSI designed to improve beneficiary well-being and enhance the ability of SSI beneficiaries to participate in the workforce."
The Association of Administrative Law Judges, a union representing ALJs at federal agencies -- 85 percent of whom work for the Social Security Administration -- has filed a lawsuit against the SSA claiming that their caseloads are too high to allow Social Security disability appeals to be decided fairly. They also warned lawmakers that, because approving claims takes much less time than denying them, there is a substantial incentive to approve claims they might otherwise question.
In an effort to cut a deal on the deficit, the Obama Administration has been considering changing the way cost of living adjustments, or COLAs, are calculated for recipients of Social Security disability and retirement benefits. The idea behind this is that the current way of calculating the COLA doesn't lead to a truly accurate estimate of how much more Social Security recipients are having to spend on basic needs, which is its purpose.