With the recent launch of a new, widely-criticized series, “Disabled America,” The Washington Post unfortunately joined the ranks of news media that have reported on Social Security’s disability programs in ways that get the facts wrong and leave the public with false impressions. Visit The Arc’s blog to learn more about the first article in the Post’s new series, and to see a round-up of analyses and responses.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and 10 cosponsors have introduced the “Protection of Social Security Benefits Restoration Act” (S. 959). The bill would repeal a 1996 change in law that allowed earned benefits to be garnished by the federal government to collect federal debts, such as student loans and home loans owed to the Veterans Administration. The bill would prevent garnishment of Social Security retirement, survivors’, and disability benefits — as well as other earned benefits — to collect federal debts. View Senator Wyden’s press release to learn more and to access asummary. The Arc strongly supports this much-needed legislation to maintain basic living standards for Social Security beneficiaries struggling to pay student loans and other federal debts.
On April 26, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee held a hearing on “Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention, and Detection”. Witnesses were Sean Brune, Assistant Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Budget, Finance, Quality and Management at the Social Security Administration; and Seto J. Bagdoyan, Director of the Forensic Audits and Investigative Service at the Government Accountability Office. Visit the Committee web site for more information or to review testimony or accesslive video the day of the hearing.
On April 26, the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will hold a hearing on “Stopping Disability Fraud: Risk, Prevention, and Detection”. As stated in the Committee’s announcement, the hearing will examine “the agency’s ability to identify and manage fraud risk, and the status of the Social Security Administration’s antifraud initiatives.” Visit the Committee web site for more information or to access live video the day of the hearing.
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.