On March 22, the House Ways and Means Committee’s Oversight and Social Security Subcommittees held a joint hearing on Social Security’s representative payee program. Witnesses were Marianna LaCanfora, Acting Deputy Commissioner, Office of Retirement and Disability Policy, Social Security Administration (SSA); Gale Stallworth Stone, Acting Inspector General, SSA; Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc, on behalf of the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force; Brenda Uekert, Principal Court Research Consultant, National Center for State Courts; and David Slayton, Administrative Director, Office of Court Administration, Texas Judicial Branch. Visit the committee web site for more information and to view the archived video of the hearing.
The House Ways and Means Committee’s Social Security and Oversight Subcommittees will hold a series of hearings on Social Security’s Representative Payee Program. The first hearing in the series will take place on February 7 and is entitled “Examining the Social Security Administration’s Representative Payee Program: Determining Who Needs Help.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 0.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits in 2017. The Social Security Act provides for annual COLA increases based on inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Because the CPI-W only rose slightly over the last year, the 2017 COLA will only increase benefits slightly. According to SSA, the average monthly Social Security benefit for a retired worker will increase by $5, from $1,355 in 2016 to $1,360 in 2017. The average monthly benefit for a Social Security “disabled worker” beneficiary will increase by $4, from $1,167 in 2016 to $1,171 in 2017. In addition, the SSI Federal Payment Standard will increase from $733 per month in 2016 to $735 per month in 2017. Important work incentive thresholds for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries with disabilities will also increase, including the Substantial Gainful Activity level and the Trial Work Period earnings level. View SSA’s fact sheet for more details on the 2017 Social Security COLA and visit Medicare.gov for more information on Medicare costs in 2017.
On Wednesday, the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on “Understanding Social Security’s Solvency Challenge.” Witnesses will include Dr. Keith Hall, Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Steve Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration. As stated in the Committee’s announcement “This hearing will focus on the differences between the estimates of Social Security’s finances produced by the Congressional Budget Office and those produced by the Social Security Trustees, as well as what these differences mean for efforts to address Social Security’s solvency.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and 47 cosponsors have introduced the Strengthening Social Security Act of 2016 (H.R. 5952). The bill includes multiple provisions to enhance Social Security benefits (including Social Security Disability Insurance), to provide a more adequate annual cost-of-living benefit adjustment for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, and to strengthen the Social Security system’s long-term financing. The bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. The Arc supports this legislation.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Aging will hold a hearing on “Maximizing Your Social Security Benefits: What You Need to Know.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
Last week, the House Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Social Security held a hearing on “Modernizing Social Security’s Information Technology Infrastructure”. Witnesses were Robert Klopp, Deputy Commissioner, Chief Information Officer, Social Security Administration; Richard E. Warsinskey, President, National Council of Social Security Management Associations; Kimberly Byrd, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audit, Financial Systems and Operations Audits, Office of the Inspector General, Social Security Administration; Valerie Melvin, Director, Information Management and Technology Resources Issues, Government Accountability Office; and William Hayes, Principal Engineer, Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. Visit the Committee web site to access testimony or view archived video of the hearing.
On Thursday, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security will hold a hearing on “Modernizing Social Security’s Information Technology Infrastructure”. The hearing will focus on the current state of the Social Security Administration’s Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, the agency’s IT modernization plan, and best practices for IT modernization efforts. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced that beginning August 1, 2016 youth who are blind or who have disabilities may apply for SSI benefits up to 180 days prior to the end of their eligibility for foster care. The current window for application is 90 days prior to the end of eligibility for foster care, which in most states ends at age 18. This extended application period will be in effect as a one-year pilot. After the one-year trial period, SSA will determine whether to make the policy permanent.
Last week, the Social Security Board of Trustees released “The 2016 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds.” The 2016 report finds that, in 2015, Social Security took in roughly $23 billion more than it paid out (in total income and interest). Social Security’s reserves were $2.8 trillion at the end of 2015. The Trustees continue to project that Social Security’s combined Trust Funds can pay all scheduled benefits through 2034, at which point the Trust Funds would be able to pay approximately 79 percent of scheduled benefits. The Trustees also find that, due to theBipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund can pay full scheduled benefits through the third quarter of 2023, at which point the DI trust fund will be able to pay about 89 percent of scheduled benefits. This is one year longer than Social Security’s actuaries had projected when the Bipartisan Budget Act was enacted.
The Social Security Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means, held a hearing on the 2016 Trustees Report. The witness was Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary, Social Security Administration. Visit the Committeeweb site to view testimony and archived video.