Sharon Ramos, age 56, of South Bend, Indiana was sentenced before District Court Judge Jon E. DeGuilio for ten counts of making false entries in government records, two counts of conversion of government money, and one count of wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II.

Ramos, convicted after a four-day jury trial in November 2017, was sentenced to 46 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution to the Social Security Administration in the amount of $550,383.66.

According to testimony during the trial, from approximately January 2008 and continuing until around December 2013, Ramos devised a scheme to defraud the Social Security Administration by means of materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.  Ramos, then an employee of the Social Security Administration, made numerous false and fictitious representations in Supplemental Security Income (SSI) accounts of numerous SSI claimants.  These improper entries in the accounts resulted in numerous SSI claimants obtaining payments they were not eligible to receive.  As a result, Ramos fraudulently converted money belonging to the Social Security Administration.

The Social Security Administration has updated the staff instructions in its POMS manual for Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts. These accounts allow the sheltering of money which would otherwise render a person ineligible for Supplement Security Income (SSI).
The ABLE accounts exist and help people who have money and want to help their disabled relatives get around the ridiculously stringent SSI resource limits. Most disabled people don’t have relatives who can help them in this way.
What is urgently needed are updated resource and income limitations for everyone on SSI. The SSI resource and income limitations contain no cost of living adjustment and haven’t been updated since they were created in the 1970s. They are very stringent and allow people to have extremely minimal assets in order to qualify for SSI benefits.
One Social Security advocate has stated “there is no other issue in the Social Security world, apart from the agency’s operating budget, that’s anywhere near as important as an SSI update” and I cannot disagree.

Telephone Phishing Scheme

March 28, 2018

A phone scam is making the rounds again.

Kansas City police say they’ve heard from residents that they’ve gotten calls from someone claiming to be from the Social Security Administration.

This is how the scam works: They leave a message on your voicemail, claiming your social security number has been suspended and asking that you return the call and speak with a paralegal.

Anyone who receives a this call should notify the real Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213.

The New York Times recently had a very good piece on how the expense of medications impacts the sickest of our population.

Drug makers have raised prices on treatments for life-threatening or chronic conditions like multiple sclerosis, diabetes and cancer. In turn, insurers have shifted more of those costs onto consumers. Saddled with high deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs that expose them to a drug’s rising list price, many people are paying thousands of dollars a month merely to survive.

Read the entire article here:

Politicians have been debating Paid Family Leave for many years.  Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is working with Ivanka Trump to come up with a paid leave policy that Republicans can vote for. The conservative argument against paid family leave in the past has been Republicans vehemently oppose any mandate on employers or higher taxes.

Rubio doesn’t want the federal government to pay for paid family leave, but rather require individuals to withdraw from their Social Security benefits whenever they need to take time off for a new baby or other family related-matters. This would have the adverse effect of requiring individuals to delay their retirement age.

As Politico puts it, this would mean that someone who would begin receiving their full Social Security benefits when they turn 67 years old but wants to take six weeks of paid leave wouldn’t draw Social Security benefits until six weeks after their 67th birthday.

The full article is here:

I always love baby name lists.  SSA recently provided a list of the top names for boys and girls over the past 100 years.

Spoiler:  Mary and James are number one.

Tracy is not anywhere on the list.  Tiffany slid in at number 98.

Vox had a great piece about Social Security Disability benefits.  It talks about how many politicians haven’t had much, if any, interaction with individuals who are receiving disability benefits.

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