2019 COLA

August 1, 2018

From the Motley Fool:

While nothing is set in stone, given that we don’t even have data from the three months that actually count (July-September), as an early glimpse I’d suggest that there’s a good chance [Social Security’s Cost Of Living Adjustment or COLA] could be the biggest raise since 2012, with a slim possibility of it being the largest raise in a decade. 

According to the May inflation data release from the BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics], which primarily tracks the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), the CPI-W has increased exactly 3% on a trailing-12-month basis. 


Of the 423,224 dispositions of requests for ALJ hearings so far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018, 43%were allowances, 36% were denials, and 21% were dismissals. The dismissal rate is the same as FY 2017, but the award rate is four percentage points lower, and the denial rate is four percentage points higher.

Five years ago (FY 2013), the award rate at the ALJ level was 48% and the dismissal rate was 17%. Ten years ago (FY 2008) the award rate was 63% and the dismissal rate was 16%.


I have long been an advocate for checking your earnings records, but today I read on CNN Money that this is one of the biggest mistake a person can make.

Not checking your earnings record

The Social Security Administration, or SSA, keeps track of your Social Security taxable earnings every year, and you can take a look at your earnings record on your latest Social Security statement. (Note: Your Social Security statement is available on www.ssa.gov by creating a “my Social Security” account, if you haven’t already.)

Because your benefit will be based on the earnings data on your Social Security statement, it’s extremely important to make sure the information on the statement is accurate.

Errors in Social Security earnings records aren’t widespread, but they are more common than you may think. For example, in the 2012 tax year, the SSA said that $71 billion in wages couldn’t be matched to any earnings records, and that only about half of these mismatches were eventually corrected.

She Voted For Trump

July 11, 2018

While I don’t typically post positions that take a strong political stance, I was intrigued by this article I saw on cnn.com

Krista Shockey voted for President Trump in November. Now she’s one of the people who might get hurt under his plan to cut safety net programs for the poor and disabled.

Shockey is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program to help low-income Americans who are disabled. The monthly payment is just over $700 a month.

“It’s my only income,” Shockey told CNNMoney in the fall, when we first met her in Waverly, a small town in southern Ohio that’s seen better days. “I couldn’t live” without it.

For the full article, go here:  https://tinyurl.com/ks4zsq3


My MS Hero

July 4, 2018

I love this story about Kathleen Sheehan, who has MS and hasn’t let it stand in the way of adapting to a new type of job.  She is also my friend’s sister, which is how I came across this article.  I hope she inspires you too.


Excellent article in the New York Times from last week detailing the significant drop in disability applications and explaining some of the reasons why which include:

  • Baby Boomers move off of the disability program and over to the retirement program;
  • A decrease in unemployment makes employers look towards disabled individuals as prospective employees; and
  • A significant drop in the number of disability claims being paid on appeal due to retraining of judges who were paying “too many” claims.  Now a person’s chance of being approved for benefits after an appeal is around 48% in 2015, down from 69% in 2008.

Read the whole article here:



New Government reports show that the number of cases pending a hearing has dropped to approximately 985,000 as of April 2018 from a high in 2017 of over 1,100,000.  Despite this fall, the average length of time to process a case has fallen only five days (from 605 days to 600 days), meaning that many people are waiting three years or more for a determination on their claims if they proceed to a hearing.   In 2015, the wait time was closer to 480 days, representing almost a four month increase in the wait times.

Although I have personally not seen this implemented in the Jacksonville hearing office, I am encouraged by the Voluntary Standby program which will allow claimants to have their hearings sooner on short notice in an effort to fill empty hearing slots.

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