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Archive for April, 2012

Social Security Concerns Are Rising

social securityThe fate of Social Security has been up in the air for several years now. As one of the main political platforms by which each party toss around ideas, the truth is that the system is in trouble and desperate need of repair. As financial insolvency looms around the corner, a new study predicts that Social Security Disability funds will be dry by 2017, Medicare follows in 2024 and the entire Social Security program could be out by 2033.

Fixing The System

Depending on which side of the political line you stand, views on how the government can resolve the problem are vastly different. However, both sides can agree to some extent that spending must be cut in order to save these programs. Where those cuts are found are a different story and too widespread to be of any real help at this point.

Budget cuts aren’t the only potential source of saving Social Security. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, more people are drawing on the system than ever before.¬† The costs of healthcare have risen, making it more difficult for those over the age of 65 or disable to obtain adequate coverage. Part of the solution may just lie in finding solutions for alternative sources of funding for the elderly and improving the nation’s overall healthcare system.

 

 

 

Social Security Benefits Checks Go Electronic

disability benefitsThe Social Security Administration is making some big changes in the way they do business in efforts to streamline services and make the benefits process more efficient. Although many people have grown accustomed to receiving their disability benefits checks by mail, many of the federal program benefits checks will go electronic next year.

Electronic Transactions

Starting in 2013, several Social Security programs will begin dispersing their benefits checks electronically. Social Security Disability, Supplemental Security Income, veteran’s benefits and railroad pensions are just a few of the programs whose checks will be transmitted electronically next year. Benefit recipients will be receiving their benefits in the form of direct deposit into a bank, credit union or other approved account, rather than a paper check.

The reason for the change is twofold (1) the SSA is hoping to cut costs and (2) electronic transactions should make the benefits system safer. Issuing close to 73 million payments a month, the phasing out of paper checks will streamline the process and eliminate the additional costs of materials and staff for processing the checks. Further, there has been an increasing problem among beneficiaries having their checks stolen and fraudulently cashed. Criminals know who to target and how to access funds of paper checks, which should be eliminated once the secure electronic payment system is implemented.

 

 

Changes To Social Security Benefit Seekers

ssiThere have been some very interesting changes in who is seeking Social Security benefits these days and who isn’t. Economic pressures have created some unique changes to the way Americans are applying for and seeking benefits in recent years. While reports suggest that Social Security Disability benefits are being sought at all time highs, Social Security retirement benefit applicants are decreasing.

Changing Times

Only 27 percent of eligible beneficiaries sought retirement benefits in 2011. That means that nearly two-thirds of all Americans who became eligible at the age of 62 last year actually applied for their benefits. On the other hand, the number of people seeking disability benefits has exponentially increased in the last two years.

What is going on? First, more aging Americans are finding it necessary to stay at work rather than take retirement. Too many people over the age of 62 are battling personal debt, underwater mortgages and overwhelming medical bills to be able to afford retirement. The average working age of Americans has continued to increase in recent years due to the elderly continuing in the workforce.

As for disability insurance applicants, many studies suggest that as unemployment benefits and welfare options become exhausted more people are turning to disability for help. The problem is that these unqualified applicants are clogging up an already backlogged system, making it harder for legitimately eligible applicants to gain approval.

 

 

 

Depression Screening Available In Medicare

depressionThe government has been working to expand the services and treatments available for Medicare and Social Security beneficiaries. As times progress, so does illness and more conditions are becoming epidemic in recent years. Alzheimer’s has recently been added to the list of probable conditions that may be covered under the Social Security Disability program, and now depression is getting some much needed attention as well.

Depression

Depression is one of those conditions that is often difficult to manage.  Those affected often fight their diagnosis and attempt to self medicate or treat the illness themselves. Family and friends may find it difficult to accept a depression diagnosis and may not even recognize the signs of further problems. Research shows that depression is highly likely to go hand in hand with other illnesses and most people suffering are also experiencing one or more medical conditions. Chronic pain, anxiety, cancer and certain disabilities are commonly occurring conditions alongside depression.

Despite its prevalence, depression is often undiagnosed in certain populations such as the elderly. The elderly are less likely to seek help for their depression and screening tools haven’t been adapted to properly test for the condition. Add in the out of pocket costs for screening and treatment, depression in the elderly can be devastating. However, this past October the Medicare program began covering the costs of annual depression screening for beneficiaries. Medicare recipients can now get screened for free once per year and even receive treatment for a fraction of the cost.

 

 

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