From the Washington Post:

SSA recently released the top baby names of 2018.  Take a look:

If Congress doesn’t act soon, tens of millions of Americans will only receive about three-quarters of their Social Security benefits when they retire.

Social Security’s trust funds will be tapped out by 2035, according to an annual report released Monday by trustees of the government’s two largest entitlement programs, the other being Medicare. That’s one year later than last year’s report projected.

The new projection doesn’t mean retirees will no longer get checks in 16 years. But the program will at that point only have enough revenue coming in to pay three-quarters of promised benefits through the end of 2093.

The trustees urged lawmakers to act quickly to assure Americans they’ll be able to get their full retirement benefits.

During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t touch Social Security. He didn’t believe he’d need to since his plan to boost economic growth to at least 4% would take care of Social Security’s long-term solvency.

For the first time since 1982, Social Security’s total cost is expected to exceed its total income in 2020 and continue that way through 2093. This is two years later than projected in last year’s report.

The program would be financed with a combination of interest income and drawing down on the trust funds’ assets until 2035 when the reserves are depleted. Social Security’s costs are expected to rise for the next 20 years as the large Baby Boom generation retires and then remain fairly constant.

At the end of 2018, the Social Security program provided benefits to about 63 million people, mainly retired workers, but also their dependents and their survivors, as well as disabled workers and their dependents.

The share of Americans 65 or older is projected to grow by more than a third between now and 2040, according to the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This alone will boost Social Security spending from nearly 5% of the economy to about 6% in 20 years, where it is expected to remain.

This demographic shift, along with rising health care costs, will cause Medicare spending to jump from 3.7% to 6.5% of the economy over the same period.

One bright spot in the report: The trustees dramatically revised their estimates for the lifespan of the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. It now won’t be depleted until 2052, two decades later than projected last year. The number of people on federal disability and new applications have been on the decline in recent years.

On February 4, 2019, U.S. District Judge Gustavo A. Gelpi issued an opinion in USA v. Jose Luis Vaello Madero, Case No. 17-2133 (GAG) (D.P.R. 2019), granting Vaello Madero’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by the federal government to recover over $28,000 in SSI disability benefits he was paid afterhe moved from New York to Puerto Rico.

The Social Security Act excludes Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, from the SSIbenefits program under 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(e). However, according to JudgeGelpi, “in accordance with [United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 744, 774 (2013)], the denial of SSI disability benefits to United States citizens in Puerto Rico isunconstitutional as ‘a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by theFifth Amendment of the Constitution.’” Despite the government’s argument thatthe cost of including Puerto Rico in the SSI program would be too expensive, especially since residents of Puerto Rico do not pay federal income tax, whichfunds the SSI program, Judge Gelpi explained that “this is not a valid justification for creating classifications of United States citizens and justifying the same under the lax scrutiny of social and economic legislation. While line drawing is necessary for Congress to pass social and economic legislation, it is never a valid reason for disparate treatment of United States citizen’s fundamental rights… [which] are the same in the States as in the Territories, without distinction. Equal Protection and Due Process are fundamental rights afforded to every United States citizen, including those who under the United States flag make Puerto Rico their home. All United States citizens must trust that their fundamental constitutional rights will be safeguarded everywhere within the Nation, be in a State or Territory.”

In response to the District Court’s decision, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón (R) introduced H.R. 947, the “SupplementalSecurity Income Equality Act,” which would extend the SSI benefits program to Puerto Rico as wellas Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More details are available in a press release(“The Resident Commissioner files a bipartisan billto make SSI extensive to Puerto Rico”) issued by the Congresswoman’s office.

The government is likely to appeal Judge Gelpi’sdecision. SSA has not yet published POMS or an Emergency Message on processing SSI claims made in Puerto Rico.

From the Federal Register:

We propose to eliminate the education category “inability to communicate in English” when we evaluate disability claims for adults under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). Changes in the national workforce since we added this category to our rules in 1978 demonstrate that this education category is no longer a reliable indicator of an individual’s educational attainment or the vocational impact of an individual’s education. The proposed revisions reflect research and data related to English language proficiency, work, and education; expansion of the international reach of our disability programs; and audit findings by our Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The proposed revisions would help us better assess the vocational impact of education in the disability determination process.


I strongly disagree with this proposal.  Difficulty communicating in English makes it extremely difficult to find any type of employment, especially in the face of any other medical problems that might separately impact your ability to work (such as back pain, Parkinson’s disease, MS or cancer).  This proposal is very disheartening.

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