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Legal News and Updates from the Social Security Administration.

Recent and past updates and important information from the Social Security Administration. Check back here often for news and articles.

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The Social Security Administration Call Back System
The Social Security Administration has recently instituted a call back system. If you call the national toll free number at 1-800-773-1213 during office hours and the wait to speak with a representative is lengthy, there is now an option you can use to have a representative call you back. Ms. Miller has used this option several times with great results. SSA can answer many questions regarding Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Retirement benefits over the telephone.
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Social Security Adds 38 New Compassionate Allowance Conditions - Expansion Will Speed Benefits to Thousands of Americans with Disabilities

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that the agency is adding 38 more conditions to its list of Compassionate Allowances.  This is the first expansion since the original list of 50 conditions - 25 rare diseases and 25 cancers - was announced in October 2008.  The new conditions range from adult brain disorders to rare diseases that primarily affect children.  The complete list of the new Compassionate Allowance conditions is attached.

“The addition of these new conditions expands the scope of Compassionate Allowances to a broader subgroup of conditions like early-onset Alzheimer’s disease,” Commissioner Astrue said.  “The expansion we are announcing today means tens of thousands of Americans with devastating disabilities will now get approved for benefits in a matter of days rather than months and years.”

Compassionate Allowances are a way of quickly identifying diseases and other medical conditions that clearly qualify for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.  It allows the agency to electronically target and make speedy decisions for the most obviously disabled individuals.  In developing the expanded list of conditions, Social Security held public hearings and worked closely with the National Institutes of Health, the Alzheimer’s Association, the National Organization for Rare Disorders, and other groups.

"The diagnosis of Alzheimer's indicates significant cognitive impairment that interferes with daily living activities, including the ability to work," said Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer's Association.  "Now, individuals who are dealing with the enormous challenges of Alzheimer's won't also have to endure the financial and emotional toll of a long disability decision process."

“This truly innovative program will provide invaluable assistance and support to patients and families coping with severely disabling rare diseases,” said Peter L. Saltonstall, President and CEO of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD).  “On behalf of those patients and families, I want to thank Commissioner Astrue and his enthusiastic team for creating and now expanding a program that will have a direct impact on the quality of life of thousands of individuals."

“The initiative not only assists those whose applications are quickly processed, but also assists those whose applications need more time and attention from SSA adjudicators,” said Marty Ford, Co-Chair, Social Security Task Force, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.  “We are pleased to see today's expansion and look forward to working with Commissioner Astrue on further expansion of this decision-making tool and other ways to expedite determinations and decisions for disability claims.”

“We will continue to hold hearings and look for other diseases and conditions that can be added to our list of Compassionate Allowances," Commissioner Astrue said.  “There can be no higher priority than getting disability benefits quickly to those Americans with these severe and life-threatening conditions.”

Social Security will begin electronically identifying these 38 new conditions
March 1.

For more information about the agency’s Compassionate Allowances initiative, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

For the full article go to: http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/cal021110-pr.html

Social Security Administration Issues 2009 Cost of Living Adjustments
Last Updated: 1/6/2009

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recently issued its 2009 Cost of Living Adjustments, which result in slightly larger Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) awards for 2009. The adjustments also increase the Substantial Gainful Activity and Trial Work Period thresholds for an SSDI beneficiary who works, and allow students on SSI to exclude more of their income from being counted against their award.

In 2009, the federal SSI Payment Standard, which is the base SSI award before individual states include their portion, if any, increases from $637 a month to $674 a month for an individual and from $956 a month to $1,011 a month for a couple. This means that an individual who receives SSI can now earn slightly more from work or in unearned income before his benefit is terminated. The SSA estimates that the average SSDI award will increase from $1,006 a month to $1,064 a month.

For people already receiving SSDI, the adjustments include an increase in the threshold for Substantial Gainful Activity, from $940 a month for an individual without visual impairments to $980. Individuals who work and earn more than this threshold amount each month typically lose their SSDI benefits because they are no longer considered disabled, although programs exist to ease the transition should a beneficiary earn more than $980.

Finally, students who receive SSI benefits but have a portion of their income excluded from their SSI benefits calculation (resulting in a larger award) because they are regularly attending school will be able to exclude $1,640 a month up to $6,600 a year in 2009, up from $1,550 a month and $6,240 a year in 2008.

These numbers are baseline figures issued by the SSA before the beginning of the New Year, and should be used for reference purposes only. To figure out how the cost of living adjustments affect you or your loved one, the best step is to speak with Tracy Tyson Miller. To find our office click here.

Note: Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security information and statistics,
are available at SSA's Internet site, Social Security Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.

SSA Press Office  440 Altmeyer Bldg.  6401 Security Blvd.  Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973

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