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Archive for May, 2012

Social Security Benefits

Social security disabilityEventually in our lives we will reach a point when we come into contact with the Social Security Benefits program other than through that tax line on our paycheck.  It is often put on the backburner and surprisingly, many people do not fully understand the system.  If you fall into this category, this short post is here to help you begin to understand the benefits that will be (if they are not already) coming your way.

A Look at Social Security Eligibility

When do you become eligible for Social Security?  The earliest age that you are eligible to receive S.S. Benefits is the age of 62, but by taking on your benefits this early will also cost you a penalty.  Full retirement age for individuals is at the age of 67 years old.  You do, however, have the ability to wait until you are 70 before you begin claiming Social Security benefits and receive an increase of 8% in your benefits for every year that you delayed your retirement.

What are disability benefits of Social Security and who is eligible?  It is not like a workman’s comp program where one may receive partial disability payments or short-term disability payments.  Social Security only pays out for long-term disability situations where you are no longer to perform the work that you once were and that will last for at least up to one year.

If you are having trouble deciding if you are eligible for disability benefits then consult a Social Security lawyer on the matter.  They have the experience and knowledge to help you with the matter at hand.

Disability Insurance Awareness Month Reminders

disability insuranceIn efforts to boost consumer knowledge about Social Security programs May is designated National Disability Insurance Awareness Month. During the month of May, many agencies offer free seminars and events to reach consumers who may be affected by a disability or those who may need disability benefits in the future. Part of the mission this month is aimed at reminding citizens to be vigilant about their future needs for disability insurance and plan ahead.

Taking Action

Social Security Disability Insurance is a notoriously difficult program to enter. Not because people don’t qualify for benefits, but most often because the application is inaccurate or they are lacking vital information. One of the best ways to minimize the risk of having an application denied is planning and preparation. This means that people should get to know the disability insurance process long before they ever need to apply and follow a few basic steps.

  • Keep all medical documentation and records.
  • Review the disability program guidelines and qualification standards.
  • Consult with a disability lawyer when considering an application.
  • Double check an application for accuracy and required documentation.
  • Apply early, at the first sign of disability.

SSI Questioned For Disabled Children

ssiRecent examination into the current Social Security program budget has begun to focus on where and how the money is spent. Not just in terms of the past program expenses, but the future expenses as well. Supplemental Security Income is reserved for those in financial need that are over the age of 65 or disabled, but lack qualification for Social Security Disability Insurance. In recent months, scrutiny has thickened over the SSI funds going towards the disabled.

Deficit-Cutting Measures

As the program currently stands, $10 billion of SSI program funds are earmarked for disabled children. While there is no doubt that there are families who depend on, and require, the assistance provided by SSI; there are a fair number of skeptics as to whether these funds should continue in the future. At a forum earlier this week in Washington, disability advocates and critics met to discuss the role of these for the future.

Arguing that deficit-filled times call for deficit-cutting measures, questions arose as to whether SSI is the best source of financial assistance for poor families of disabled children. Further points were raised about the current state of the program, comparing it to essentially a “morphed alternative welfare program”. Those supporting SSI program reform suggest that the disabilities being covered by the program’s funds are hard-to-measure behavioral, mental and learning disabilities; most of which can be easily treated or overcome through other avenues of assistance.

The controversial forum did not lead to any major decisions or declarations, as lawmakers are always hesitant to move on issues surrounding disadvantaged children. For now the idea of SSI reform has been tabled and further discussions could be revisited as the election nears this fall.





The Social Security Tax Holiday Debate

Social SecurityThe issue of Social Security and the future of funding has taken a front seat in political debates for the last few years. Despite already struggling to keep up benefits for essential programs like Social Security Disability, the government implemented a tax holiday that impacted the future of these funds.

Payroll Tax Holiday

In effort to help spur economic recovery, the payroll tax holiday has been able to produce the desired effect of saving consumers money and reducing the costs to business owners. Estimated to have saved working families about $1000 per year in taxes, the tax holiday was recently extended another year by government officials. However, not all parties are happy with the extension and many are concerned what the extended holiday could mean for an already dwindling Social Security fund.

One of the nation’s largest non-profit organizations that provides services to the retired, AARP has officially announced their opposition stance to the tax holiday extension. AARP’s position is that the tax holiday is impairing the finances of Social Security, an outcome that was promised wouldn’t happen. The payroll tax holiday wasn’t supposed to affect Social Security funds as transfers from general revenue were to be made to compensate for the reduced revenue from the tax holiday. However, with the deficit climbing the transfers are not being made, leaving Social Security without the funding it needs.



More Trouble For Social Security Recipients

medicareAs if the disappointing  news regarding the fate of Social Security and disability insurance programs wasn’t ominous enough, a new report suggests that Medicare costs could also be changing over the next few years. With close to 6 million people relying on Medicare benefits for health coverage, the expected increase in costs could be detrimental to many citizens.

Cutting Benefits, Rising Costs

Although the main focus has been on other Social Security programs in recent years, the truth is that Medicare has always been on the edge of disaster. However, further problems are expected as the cost of Medicare premiums is forecasted to begin rising over the next few years. What is more alarming is that this increase in Medicare costs for beneficiaries is not expected to be tempered by a similar increase in benefits, which are expected to remain steady if not decrease over time.

In the past, Social Security program benefits have seen an increase due to cost of living adjustments. It is unclear as to whether these necessary annual inflation will be anything more than 1%, if anything. Meanwhile, Medicare costs are expected to rise by 11%, creating a gap between income and the cost of essential expenses like medical coverage. Current beneficiaries are being advised to begin planning for the increase in cost and develop alternative strategies for maintaining financial balance in the wake of such changes.



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