SSA recently released the average time to process claims at the Initial and Reconsideration levels.  In Florida, the wait time for for Initial claims is 165 days and for Reconsideration claims, it is 174 days, roughly about 5 and a half months.

The wait times are very similar across the nation, with the exception of Alaska where wait times are in excess of 200 days.

 

David Black was sworn in last month as Deputy Commissioner of Social Security to a term that expires on January 19, 2025. He will also serve as the Secretary to the Social Security Board of Trustees.

“David is a dedicated public servant who brings a wealth of knowledge to this position,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. “I look forward to working closely with David to address challenges, more effectively carry out our mission, and improve Social Security services to the public.”

A Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Mr. Black has dedicated his career in service to others. He has served in the Army for nearly 30 years, as both an enlisted soldier and an officer, and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal. Mr. Black brings a vast amount of civilian federal experience. Prior to his nomination, he served as the White House Senior Advisor for Social Security. Previously, for nearly a decade, Mr. Black was General Counsel for Social Security. He also worked with the U.S. Department of Education as the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office for Civil Rights.

The Social Security Administration administers the Social Security retirement, disability and survivors insurance programs that pay over one trillion dollars annually in benefits to approximately 64 million beneficiaries, as well as the Supplemental Security Income program that provides cash assistance to more than 8 million people with limited income and resources. The agency has a national workforce of about 63,000 employees and 1,500 facilities across the country and around the world.

Mr. Black is from North Dakota. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from the University of North Dakota. In 1996, he received a Juris Doctor from the University of Minnesota Law School. He and his wife, Hollie, have three children.

Last month, SSA announced that Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for nearly 69 million Americans will increase 1.6 percent in 2020.

The 1.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 63 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2020. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2019. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $137,700 from $132,900.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Information about Medicare changes for 2020, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2020 are announced. Final 2020 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and mySocial Security’s Message Center.

A bill was recently introduced in the House of Representation called Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act (H.R. 4280).

The bill was introduced September 11, 2019 by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3) and Rep. Elisa Slotkin (D-MI-8). It currently has 23 cosponsors (including Rep. Slotkin). The SSI Restoration Act would update SSI eligibility criteria, some of which have not been updated since 1972. The SSI Restoration Act would increase the resource limit to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a married couple, change the index that is used to calculate the annual Cost-of-Living- Adjustment (COLA) to the CPI-E, repeal the in- kind support and maintenance (ISM) provision, eliminate the marriage penalty, increase the general income exclusion from $20/month to $123/month, and increase the earned income exclusion from $65/month to $399/month. The dollar figures that were increased would also be annually adjusted for inflation. NOSSCR’s government affairs team will prioritize advocacy on getting additional cosponsors for this bill, as well as getting a Senate companion bill introduced.

I am very encouraged by a new bill proposed in Senate:  Stop the Wait Act (H.R. 4386 and S. 2496).

This bill would eliminate the five month waiting period for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits immediately and gradually phase out the additional 24-month waiting period for Medicare coverage for SSDI beneficiaries. The lead sponsor in the Senate is Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and the lead sponsors in the House of Representatives are Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35) and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1). The Senate bill has five additional cosponsors at the time this article was written, and the House bill has 34.

 

The Social Security Administration provides expedited processing of disability claims filed by veterans who have a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total (P&T).

What do I need to know about the Veterans Affairs and Social Security programs?

Both Social Security and Veterans Affairs pay disability benefits to qualifying people, but their programs, processes, and criteria for receiving benefits are different. A Veterans Affairs compensation rating of 100 percent P&T doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive Social Security disability benefits. To receive disability benefits from Social Security, a person must have a severe impairment that’s expected to last at least one year or to result in death. The impairment must be so severe that the person would be unable to perform any substantial work.

NOTE: Receiving Veterans Affairs compensation won’t affect your Social Security benefits.

What should I do to receive expedited processing of my Social Security disability application?

If you’re a disabled veteran rated 100 percent P&T, you must:

• Identify yourself as a “veteran rated 100 percent P and T” when you apply for benefits. If you apply in person or over the phone, tell the Social Security representative that you are a veteran rated 100 percent Pand T. If you apply online, enter “Veteran 100% P&T” in the “Remarks” section of the application; and

• Provide Social Security with your Veterans Affairs notification letter which verifies your rating.

How will Social Security expedite my disability claim?

After Social Security identifies you as a veteran rated 100 percent P&T, we’ll treat your claim as a high priority workload and rush it through the application process in our field offices, our state Disability Determination Services, and the various levels of appeals.

Earlier this summer, SSA announced the additional of several new medical impairments to the list of Compassionate Allowances.

Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced four new Compassionate Allowances conditions: CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder, Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, Primary Peritoneal Cancer, and Richter Syndrome. Compassionate Allowances is a program to quickly identify severe diseases and medical conditions that meet Social Security’s standards for disability benefits.

“Social Security’s highest priority is to serve the public and we are committed to ensuring Americans with disabilities receive the benefits they are eligible for,” said Commissioner Saul. “For over a decade, our Compassionate Allowances program has helped us accelerate the disability process for people who are likely to get approved for benefits due to the severity of their condition.”

The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s condition or disease clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. Due to the severe nature of many of these conditions, these claims are often allowed based on medical confirmation of the diagnosis alone. The list has grown to a total of 237 conditions, including certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. To date, more than 600,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track policy-compliant disability process.

The agency incorporates leading technology to identify potential Compassionate Allowances and make quick decisions. When a person applies for disability benefits, Social Security must obtain medical records in order to make an accurate determination. Social Security’s Health IT brings the speed and efficiency of electronic medical records to the disability determination process. With electronic records transmission, Social Security is able to quickly obtain a claimant’s medical information, review it, and make a determination faster than ever before.

For more information about the program, including a list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

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