Social Security Administration News Releases
The Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically releases statements to the press regarding Social Security
Disability and other Social Security related topics. I will frequently check the latest press releases from SSA and post what
I feel are most relevant and of interest to the readers of my website. I will not post every press release as this is a website
for Social Security Disability and SSI and I feel many press releases from the Social Security Administration are of
little value to those seeking SSDI or SSI benefits. I believe it is important to put some of these press releases on my website
because they could impact those trying to get Social Security disability and those already on disability or retirement benefits
from SSA. You will find recent press releases here with the date they were released and frequently I will comment with my
opinion and sometimes with an explanation as to how I feel it may impact those trying to get SSDI or SSI or those who already
getting Social Security disability benefits. In some cases, where there is too much information to post on this page I will
add the link to the Social Security Administration website that has additional information on that particular press release.
If I have an opinion on how a particular SSA release may affect those trying to get or already receiving SSDI or SSI
benefits I will make it clear it is my opinion and not part of the actual SSA release. I hope many of you who read my
Ultimate Social Security Disability website
will find this new addition to be at least interesting and maybe even beneficial in some way.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Social Security Announces New Compassionate
Fast Track Disability Process Will Now Include 200 Conditions
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 35 additional Compassionate Allowances conditions are
in effect, bringing the total number of conditions in the expedited disability process to 200. Compassionate Allowances
are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security’s standards
for disability benefits. The program fast-tracks disability decisions to ensure that Americans with the most serious
disabilities receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. These conditions primarily include
certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children.
achieved another milestone for the Compassionate Allowances program, reaching 200 conditions,” Commissioner Astrue said.
“Nearly 200,000 people with severe disabilities nationwide have been quickly approved, usually in less than two weeks,
through the program since it began in October 2008.”
By definition, these conditions are so severe
that Social Security does not need to fully develop the applicant’s work history to make a decision. As a result,
Social Security eliminated this part of the application process for people who have a condition on the list.
Social Security has held seven public hearings and worked with experts to develop the list of Compassionate Allowances
conditions. The hearings also have helped the agency identify ways to improve the disability process for applicants
with Compassionate Allowances conditions.
For more information on the Compassionate Allowances initiative,
please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Field Offices to Close to the Public a Half
Hour Early Each Day and at Noon on Wednesdays
November 19, 2012, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the public 30 minutes early each day.** For
example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. will close daily
at 3:00 p.m. In addition, beginning January 2, 2013, offices will close to the public at noon every Wednesday.
While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow them to complete
face-to-face interviews and process claims work without incurring the cost of overtime. The significantly reduced funding
provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year makes it impossible for the
agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past.
on November 23, the day after Thanksgiving, all Social Security field offices will be closed to the public. As we did
last year, field office employees working that day will focus on reducing backlogged workloads.
Most Social Security
services do not require a visit to a local office. Many services, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare
benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, obtaining a proof of income letter or informing us of
a change of address or telephone number are conveniently available at www.socialsecurity.govor by dialing our toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. People who are deaf or hard of hearing may call our TTY number,
1-800-325-0778. Many of our online services also are available in Spanish at www.segurosocial.gov.
** NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS—Due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Social Security offices in New Jersey,
New York City, and Long Island, N.Y. will delay implementing these new office hours.
SSA Press Office
440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Social Security Announces 3.6 Percent Benefit Increase for
Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than
60 million Americans will increase 3.6 percent in 2012, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries
receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.
Some other changes 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 $110,100 from $106,800. Of the estimated 161 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2012, about 10
million will pay higher taxes as a result of the increase in the taxable maximum.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Social Security Expands Compassionate Allowances
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 13 new Compassionate Allowances conditions involving the
immune system and neurological disorders. The Compassionate Allowances program fast-tracks disability decisions to ensure
that Americans with the most serious disabilities receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years.
Commissioner Astrue made the announcement during his remarks at the U.S. Conference on Rare Diseases and Orphan Products in
“Social Security handles more than three million disability applications each year and we need
to keep innovating and making our work more efficient,” Commissioner Astrue said. “With our Compassionate Allowances
program, we quickly approved disability benefits for more than 60,000 people with severe disabilities in the past fiscal year.
We have made significant improvements, but we can always do more.”
The Compassionate Allowances initiative identifies
claims where the nature of the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets the statutory standard for disability.
With the help of sophisticated new information technology, the agency can quickly identify potential Compassionate Allowances
and then quickly make decisions.
Social Security launched the Compassionate Allowances program in 2008 with a list of
50 diseases and conditions. The announcement of 13 new conditions, effective in December, will increase the total number of
Compassionate Allowances conditions to 113. The conditions include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, a number of rare
genetic disorders of children, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and other disorders.
The agency announced a small grant program for graduate students that will help Social Security improve its list and
has recently awarded an approximately $1.5 million grant over a five-year period to Policy Research, Incorporated (PRI) through
the Disability Determination Process Small Grant Program. This new program aims to improve the disability process through
innovative research by graduate students who will receive small stipends for their work. In addition, the agency recently
streamlined its online disability application for people who have a condition on the Compassionate Allowances list.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Employees Rank Social Security as One of the Best-Managed Federal
The Social Security Administration ranks as one of the top agencies in the federal government, according to the 2011 Federal
Employee Viewpoint Survey. The survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, measured responses from more than
250,000 federal employees across the nation.
“This survey confirms what many of us already know: Social Security
is a wonderful place to work,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “The fact that our own
employees rank us among the leaders in federal government speaks to the satisfaction that working for Social Security brings.”
Social Security earned the number four ranking in two of four categories: leadership & knowledge management, as well
as job satisfaction. The leadership & knowledge management index indicates the extent employees hold their leadership
in high regard; the job satisfaction index indicates the extent employees are satisfied with their jobs.
The survey is
a government-wide assessment of federal employees’ job satisfaction and perceptions of their agency. The Federal Employee
Viewpoint Survey measures employees' perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions that characterize successful organizations
are present in their agencies.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Social Security Field Offices to Begin Closing to the
Public a Half Hour Early
Congressional Budget Cuts Force Reduced Public Hours
Effective August 15, 2011, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the public 30 minutes early each day.
For example, a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will close daily
at 3:30 p.m.
“While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will
allow us to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime for our employees,”
said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than
the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime
needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.”
Most Social Security services do not require a
visit to an office. For example, anyone wishing to apply for benefits, sign up for direct deposit, replace a Medicare card,
obtain a proof of income letter or inform us of a change of address or telephone number may do so at www.socialsecurity.gov
or by dialing our toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Monday, February 14, 2011
Statement of Michael
J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security,
on the President's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request
For over seventy-five years, Social Security has provided hundreds of millions of Americans with an economic safety net.
As the baby boomers retire and reach their disability-prone years, Social Security's workloads continue to grow. In addition,
the economic downturn has greatly increased the demand for our services. Despite this dramatic growth in our work, through
increased employee productivity, new initiatives, and improved funding we have reversed a trend of declining service and an
increasing backlog in our disability workloads.
The President's budget request of $12.522 billion for Social Security's
administrative expenses will allow us to maintain staffing in our front-line components, fund ongoing activities, and cover
our inflationary increases. It will allow us to reduce our hearings and initial disability claims backlogs, and to continue
to reverse the decline in our program integrity work. Program integrity work not only pays for itself, but also produces considerable
savings to the taxpayers.
Full funding by Congress of the President's budget request is critical. This budget request
is the minimum the agency needs to continue to reduce key backlogs and to increase deficit-reducing program integrity work.
It will allow us to build on the considerable progress we have achieved, progress that is vital to the millions of people
who depend on our services and to the American taxpayer.
For more information about the President's 2012 budget request
for Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/budget
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Social Security Invites
the Public to Comment on its Regulations
Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced a new way for members of the public to participate
in open and transparent government. In response to President Obama’s executive order on improving regulations
and regulatory review, Social Security is inviting people to provide direct feedback on its rules and regulations. Ideas
and comments may be emailed to RegsReview@ssa.gov
“Social Security values the public’s input and wants to provide a meaningful opportunity for people to
participate in the regulatory process,” Commissioner Astrue said. “I invite the public to share their thoughts
and I am excited to hear their ideas.”
Social Security’s program rules are available online and may be accessed
. There, you will find complete information about Social Security’s laws, regulations, rulings, and employee operating
For information about what Social Security is doing to improve its regulations and how the agency will
implement the President’s executive order, go to the Open Government website: www.socialsecurity.gov/open/regsreview/
A SUMMARY OF THE 2010 ANNUAL REPORTS
Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees
A MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC
Each year the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds report on the current and projected financial status
of the two programs. This message summarizes our 2010 Annual Reports.
The outlook for Medicare has improved substantially
because of program changes made in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act as amended by the Health Care and Education
Reconciliation Act of 2010 (the "Affordable Care Act" or ACA). Despite lower near-term revenues resulting from the
economic recession, the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is now expected to remain solvent until 2029, 12 years longer than
was projected last year, and the 75-year HI financial shortfall has been reduced to 0.66 percent of taxable payroll from 3.88
percent in last year’s report. Nearly all of this improvement in HI finances is due to the ACA. The ACA is also expected
to substantially reduce costs for the Medicare Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) program; projected program costs as a
share of GDP over the next 75 years are down 23 percent relative to the costs projected for the 2009 report.
the projected improvement in Medicare finances is due to a provision of the ACA that reduces payment updates for most Medicare
goods and services other than physicians’ services and drugs by measured total economy multifactor productivity growth,
which is projected to increase at a 1.1 percent annual rate on average. This provision is premised on the assumption that
productivity growth in the health care sector can match that in the economy overall, rather than lag behind as has been the
case in the past. This report notes that achieving this objective for long periods of time may prove difficult, and will probably
require that payment and health care delivery systems be made more efficient than they are currently. To facilitate this outcome,
the ACA establishes a broad program of research on innovative new delivery and payment models to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness
of health care for Medicare — and, by extension, for the nation as a whole. The improvement in Medicare’s finances
projected in this report highlights the importance of making every effort to make sure that ACA is successfully implemented.
If health care efficiency cannot be substantially improved through productivity gains or other measures, then over time the
statutory Medicare payment rates would become inadequate. In that situation, the payment update reductions might be suspended,
in which case actual long-range costs would be larger than those projected under current law.
While the financial outlook
for Medicare in this year’s report is substantially improved relative to last year, further reforms will be needed.
It is expected that the HI Trust Fund balance will fall below one year’s projected expenditure beginning in 2012, which
means the test for short-range financial adequacy is not met. And it is projected that SMI will continue to put increasing
pressure on the federal budget and beneficiaries in the years ahead, though to a much lesser extent than was projected last
year prior to the ACA. Over the next 75 years, SMI costs are expected to average 3.3 percent of GDP, which is 1.4 percentage
points higher than the SMI cost share of GDP in 2009.
The financial outlook for Social Security is little changed from
last year. The short term outlook is worsened by a deeper recession than was projected last year, but the overall 75-year
outlook is nevertheless somewhat improved primarily because a provision of the ACA is expected to cause a higher share of
labor compensation to be paid in the form of wages that are subject to the Social Security payroll tax than would occur in
the absence of the legislation. The Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, however, is now projected to become exhausted in
2018, two years earlier than in last year’s report. Thus, changes to improve the financial status of the DI program
are needed soon.
Social Security expenditures are expected to exceed tax receipts this year for the first time since
1983. The projected deficit of $41 billion this year (excluding interest income) is attributable to the recession and to an
expected $25 billion downward adjustment to 2010 income that corrects for excess payroll tax revenue credited to the trust
funds in earlier years. This deficit is expected to shrink substantially for 2011 and to return to small surpluses for years
2012-2014 due to the improving economy. After 2014 deficits are expected to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation’s
retirement causes the number of beneficiaries to grow substantially more rapidly than the number of covered workers. The annual
deficits will be made up by redeeming trust fund assets in amounts less than interest earnings through 2024, and then by redeeming
trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent
of scheduled benefits through 2084. The projected exhaustion date for the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds is unchanged from
last year’s report.
The long-run financial challenges facing Social Security and those that remain for Medicare
should be addressed soon. If action is taken sooner rather than later, more options will be available and more time will be
available to phase in changes so that those affected have adequate time to prepare.
The projected 75-year actuarial deficit in the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund is 0.66 percent of taxable
payroll, down substantially from 3.88 percent projected in last year’s report. The HI fund still fails the test of short-range
financial adequacy, as projected annual assets drop below projected annual expenditures within 10 years — by 2012. The
fund also continues to fail the long range test of close actuarial balance. The projected date of HI Trust Fund exhaustion
is 2029, 12 years later than in last year’s report, at which time dedicated revenues would be sufficient to pay 85 percent
of HI costs. The share of HI expenditures that can be financed with HI dedicated revenues is projected to decline slowly to
76 percent in 2045 and then to rise slowly, reaching 89 percent in 2084. Over 75 years, HI’s estimated actuarial imbalance
is 23 percent as large as payroll taxes, and 16 percent as large as program outlays.
Part B of Supplementary Medical
Insurance (SMI), which pays for doctors’ bills and other outpatient expenses, and Part D, which pays for access to prescription
drug coverage, are both projected to remain adequately financed into the indefinite future because current law automatically
provides financing each year to meet the next year’s expected costs. However, the aging population will result in SMI
costs growing rapidly from 1.9 percent of GDP in 2009 to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2040; about three-quarters of these costs will
be financed from general revenues and about one-quarter from premiums paid by beneficiaries. Relatively small amounts of SMI
financing are received from special payments by States and from fees on manufacturers and importers of brand-name prescription
As occurred in 2010, it is expected that about one quarter of Part B enrollees will be subject to unusually large
premium increases next year. This occurs because premium rates are set so that total premiums finance a specific share of
Part B costs, and it is projected that the other three-quarters of Part B enrollees will not be subject to a premium increase
in 2011 due to an expected zero Social Security benefit COLA in December 2010. A "hold-harmless" provision of current
law limits those individuals’ premium increases to the increase in their Social Security benefits.
The annual cost of Social Security benefits represented 4.8 percent of GDP in 2009 and is projected
to increase gradually to 6.1 percent of GDP in 2035 and then decline to about 5.9 percent of GDP by 2050 and remain at about
that level. The projected 75-year actuarial deficit for the combined Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Disability Insurance
(OASI and DI) Trust Funds is 1.92 percent of taxable payroll, down from 2.00 percent projected in last year’s report.
The 0.08 percentage point reduction in the actuarial deficit reflects a 0.06 percentage point increase due to the change
in the valuation date to 2010 and the inclusion of an additional year, 2084, in the projections, a 0.14 percentage point reduction
due the ACA’s effect on the share of labor compensation that is subject to OASDI taxes, and other changes that net to
zero. Although the combined OASDI program passes the short-range test of financial adequacy, the DI program does not; DI costs
have exceeded tax revenue since 2005, and trust fund exhaustion is projected for 2018, two years earlier than was projected
last year. In addition, OASDI continues to fail the long-range test of close actuarial balance. Projected OASDI tax income
will be sufficient to finance about 75 percent of scheduled annual benefits in 2037 through 2084 after the combined OASI and
DI Trust Funds are projected to be exhausted. Over 75 years, Social Security’s actuarial imbalance is 15 percent as
large as payroll taxes, and 12 percent as large as program outlays.
The ACA makes significant progress toward making Medicare financially viable. But while it is projected that the Medicare
HI Trust Fund is adequately financed until 2029, and the Social Security OASI and DI Trust Funds are adequately financed until
2040 and 2018, respectively, the significant longer term financial imbalances of the programs still need to be addressed.
The sooner action is taken to address the long-run financial imbalances, the more reform options will be available, and the
more time there will be to phase in changes so that those affected will have adequate time to prepare.
By the Trustees
Timothy F. Geithner,
Secretary of the Treasury,
and Managing Trustee
Hilda L. Solis,
Secretary of Labor,
Secretary of Health
and Human Services,
Michael J. Astrue,
Strategic Plan Fiscal Years 2008 - 2013
In this strategic plan, we lay out the incremental steps we must all take to reach our greater vision for the Social Security
Administration. We are an organization of great skill and accomplishment; we know what needs to be done and how to do it.
This strategic plan charts the course that will enable us to maintain a strong level of performance on core workloads and
work toward long-term improvement of our service to the public by concentrating on four goals: 1) eliminate our hearings backlog
and prevent its recurrence; 2) improve the speed and quality of our disability process; 3) improve our retiree and other core
services; and 4) preserve the public's trust in our programs. Additionally, the plan recognizes that our employees and information
technology are absolutely critical to our success. Only by investing properly in both our employees and new technology can
we hope to achieve our ambitious goals.
SSA's Performance and Accountability Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2010
Introduction Our FY 2010 PAR combines
our annual performance report with our audited financial statements to provide full disclosure of our financial and programmatic
operations. The report provides a discussion of our programs and organization, how we benefit the public, and how we
achieve our mission. It also provides an analysis of our financial position and a discussion of systems and controls.
The PAR includes our financial statements, GPRA performance results, and information on anti-fraud activities, user fee charges,
improper payments, and debt management. It also includes the report on the audit of our financial statements and the
Office of Inspector General Statement on SSA’s Major Management and Performance Challenges. FY 2010 marks the
twenty-fourth year that we published audited financial statements and the seventeenth year that we received an unqualified
opinion on our financial statements. For copies of the PAR, please contact email@example.com.
We divided the online Performance and Accountability Report into the following sections:
Wednesday, December 8, 2010 SOCIAL SECURITY
Social Security Publishes New Rule Revising Withdrawal Policy
Rule Also Limits Voluntary Suspension to Prospective
The Social Security Administration today published final rules, effective immediately, that limit the time period for beneficiaries
to withdraw an application for retirement benefits to within 12 months of the first month of entitlement and to one withdrawal
per lifetime. In addition, beneficiaries entitled to retirement benefits may voluntarily suspend benefits only for the
months beginning after the month in which the request is made.
The agency is changing its withdrawal policy because
recent media articles have promoted the use of the current policy as a means for retired beneficiaries to acquire an “interest-free
loan.” However, this "free loan" costs the Social Security Trust Fund the use of money during the period
the beneficiary is receiving benefits with the intent of later withdrawing the application and the interest earned on these
funds. The processing of these withdrawal applications is also a poor use of the agency’s limited administrative
resources in a time of fiscal austerity -- resources that could be better used to serve the millions of Americans who need
Social Security’s services.
Although the new rules are effective immediately, the agency is providing for a 60-day
public comment period. The agency will consider any relevant comments received and publish another final rule to respond
to comments and to make any appropriate changes to the rule.
Social Security recommends that comments be submitted
via the Internet. To view the new rule or to comment, visit the Federal eRulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov and use the Search function to find docket number SSA-2009-0073.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Statements of Michael
J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, and John P. Melville, New York State Police Acting Superintendent, on the Theft
of Personal Information in Upstate New York
Statement of Commissioner Astrue:
I learned earlier this week about the arrest of an individual
alleged to have illegally downloaded personal information of about 15,000 people from computers belonging to private contractors
working for the New York state agency that decides some initial disability claims for Social Security. This individual
is in custody, and we continue to work with law enforcement to determine exactly what information was downloaded and the risk
to the persons involved.
Thanks to the quick and skillful response of the New York State Police, it appears that
illegal use of the downloaded information only occurred in a limited number of cases; however, the investigations are ongoing
and we do not know the extent of the damage. As soon as we identify the individuals whose information was compromised,
we will notify them, offer them free credit monitoring, and provide them with a special toll-free telephone number to call
I asked Social Security’s Inspector General to undertake an investigation and audit, and
to work closely with the New York State Police. I appreciate the continued cooperation of the State of New York and
will ask the appropriate authorities to prosecute every responsible individual.
Statement of New York State Police
Acting Superintendent John P. Melville:
In addition to the insecurity brought directly upon victims, identity theft and
computer crimes cost consumers, corporations and government millions of dollars every year. The New York State Police
will employ all its expertise and financial and computer crimes resources to investigate and bring to justice anyone who engages
in the fraudulent use of stolen personal information.