I am dismayed to read that most Americans claimant Social Security Retirement benefits are leaving over $100,000 in benefits on the table and the average married couple misses out on $250,000 in benefits.

“Social Security is about as complicated a fiscal system as is humanly possible to design,” said Larry Kotlikoff, an economics professor at Boston University and author of the book “Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security,” set for release in February. “This is most Americans’ largest financial asset, and so many people don’t optimize it.”

Read the article and consider Professor Kotlikoff’s book.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102310956#.

Rand Paul recently stated:

What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting your disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts. Join the club … Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts. Everybody over 40 has a little back pain.

This comment is among the most insensitive that I have heard regarding the Social Security Disability program.  I represent many, many people with limitations that are not immediately evident.  Young adults with intellectual disabilities; people who suffer severe fatigue due to multiple sclerosis; women with hands that shake constantly due to Parkinson’s disease; men with arthritic knees due to many many years of arduous labor….the list is endless.

Despite the increasing difficulty obtaining Social Security Disability benefits, I am happy that no one is implementing Senator Paul’s “Hop Out of Your Truck” test for disability.

The Washington Post wrote a follow up piece and determined that Paul’s comments had “serious factual errors” and stated that while the comments were made while Paul was speaking off-the-cuff, the clear implication was that there were significant numbers of “able bodied people taking the [disability]money” through common ailments like back pain and being anxious about work.  The fact are that the rate of fraud relatively low, but fraud mostly involves people who are working who should not be getting payments, rather than people who are getting paid and not working. Moreover, even a generous interpretation of the data does not generate a figure close to more than half of beneficiaries getting paid for simply back pain and anxiety.

Social Security recently announced that as a result of Congress’ approval of the fiscal year 2015 budget, the agency will expand its hours nationwide and offices will be open to the public for an additional hour on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, effective March 16, 2015.  A field office that is usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. will remain open until 4:00 p.m.  Offices will continue to close to the public at noon every Wednesday so employees have time to complete current work and reduce backlogs.

“This expansion of office hours reaffirms our commitment to providing the people we serve the option of top-notch, face-to-face assistance in field offices even as we work to expand online services for those who prefer that flexibility,” said Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security.  “The public expects and deserves world-class customer service and thanks to approved funding, I am pleased we will continue our tradition of exceptional service.”

In recent years, Social Security reduced public office hours due to congressional budget cuts, growing backlogs and staffing losses.  The agency began recovery in fiscal year 2014 by replacing some field office staffing losses and providing overtime support to process critical work.  With the commitment of resources in fiscal year 2015, the agency is able to restore some service hours to the public.

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