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Archive for December, 2011

Payroll Tax Cut Bad For Disability Beneficiaries

payroll tax cutAs the year comes to a close, many have been holding their breath awaiting the decision as to whether the payroll tax cuts would  be extended. Although many argue the tax cuts are essential for economic recovery, many are pointing at the flipside of the coin that has economists concerned. Just as the fate of the economy remains to be seen, concerns over Social Security benefits have also plagued us.

Now that Congress has extended the payroll tax cuts, many are left wondering how big the fallout with be for those who rely on disability benefits.

Raw Deal

Payroll taxes are essential for producing the revenue stream by which Social Security benefits are paid. In previous years, the average worker paid 6.2 percent tax on their earnings towards Social Security. With the payroll tax cut, workers have been paying only 4.2 percent since the tax break when into effect in early 2011. The economic boost that was hoped to be gained from the payroll tax cut was less than impressive by the end of the temporary cut, which is what lead to the decision to extend the tax break.

With nearly 9 million Americans rely on Social Security Disability Insurance for their livelihood and survival each month, it isn’t clear how the Social Security fund will survive with dwindling revenue. While the rest of Americans will be seeing a continued bump in their checks each month, those who depend on disability benefits will be continuing to silently struggle at the hands of the tax cut.



Social Security Program Gets Quality Boost

MedicareOne of the most utilized and critical programs offer by Social Security launches a new initiative to improve quality for consumers. Medicare announced earlier this week that they will be starting an experiment aimed at improving care for seniors and, hopefully, saving taxpayers money.

The Good News

After being at the forefront of the debt debate, many have worried about the future of social security benefits programs, including Medicare. While not much has been done so far to resolve the problems Social Security programs face, the latest efforts are seeking to change that fact.

President Obama announced that 32 networks of doctors and hospitals around the country will become part of a new program to streamline services. Pioneer Accountable Care Organizations will be a new, coordinated approach to medical care. The program’s main goal will be improving the quality of care received by benefit recipients, while offering network providers financial incentives for participating and improving consumer care. It is estimated that about 850,000 of Medicare’s beneficiaries will take part in the test program that is hoped to result in a new model of healthcare.




Working With Disability Insurance

work incentivesMany people assume that they are not allowed to work if they plan to keep their Social Security Disability benefits. This is false. In fact, the Social Security Administration wants for benefit recipients to be as self sufficient as possible, which is why they created the Work Incentives Program.

Getting Back To Work

The Work Incentives Program makes it possible for those receiving disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income to work while getting benefits. The idea is to encourage those who can work, but still require some financial assistance, to bring in some income of their own. The program also extends the period of eligibility for Medicare or Medicaid while beneficiaries are working.

The Work Incentives Program requires that benefit recipients not earn more than $1010 a month, or $1640 a month for the blind, in order to still qualify for benefits. Earning more than this amount may result in the termination of benefits, as the Social Security Administration will regard you as being able to engage in “substantial gainful activity.”



I applied, Now What?

benefitsObtaining Social Security disability benefits can be a tedious process. Besides seemingly endless paperwork requirements and the high possibility of rejection one or more times, many people give up on the process. One of the biggest hurdles is the application process. If you are one of the lucky ones who has successfully navigated applying for Social Security you may be wondering what to do next.

After The Application

Although many people don’t want to hear it there are really only two things you can do after you have applied for disability benefits: wait or work. The Social Security Administration must process thousands of disability applications each week, which is why the process is so back logged. It is important to remain patient and not stress over the status of your application. It is not uncommon for it to take six months before receiving notification of your benefits claim.  In all reality, there is nothing you can do to speed up the process once you have turned in your paperwork.

If you aren’t the best at being still and waiting, then get to work. Yes! You can work while you are waiting to be approved for disability benefits. It is a misconception that working will interfere with your chances of securing benefits. Social Security rules dictate that work that is considered not “substantial” does not affect your benefits decision. However, you are limited to a monthly income of $900 or less, $1500 if you are blind. Non-substantial work is considered that which is low physical impact or stress.  Why is this allowed? The Social Security Administration wants everyone to be as self-sufficient as possible, which is why they have made some exceptions for people to work while they wait and even after they receive benefits.



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