The Arc Joins Bipartisan Policy Center Letter Calling for the Filling of Two Social Security and Medicare Trustee Seats

On February 11, Marty Ford, Senior Advisor at The Arc, joined over 100 individuals, including former government officials of both parties, academics, and representatives of organizations with a broad spectrum of viewpoints, in calling on the U.S. Senate to act on the pending nominations for the two public trustees for the Boards of Trustees of the Social Security, Disability Insurance, and Medicare Trust Funds. These positions have been vacant since 2015, leavings the boards without independent voices.

Social Security: Comments to SSA on CDR Rule Due January 31

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) proposed rule┬áto expand the use of continuing disability reviews (CDR) is still open for public comment. Currently, SSA reviews eligibility for Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits more or less frequently based on three different categories: every 6-18 months if medical improvement expected (MIE), every 3 years if medical improvement possible (MIP), and every 5-7 years if medical improvement not expected (MINE). The proposed rule adds a category called “medical improvement likely” (MIL) in which reviews must occur every 2 years and requires review for people in the MINE category every 6 years. The deadline for comments has been extended to January 31. Learn more. Submit your comments and view sample comments here.

Social Security: Comments to SSA on CDR Rule Due January 31

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) proposed rule to expand the use of continuing disability reviews (CDR) is still open for public comment. Currently, SSA reviews eligibility for Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits more or less frequently based on three different categories: every 6-18 months if medical improvement expected (MIE), every 3 years if medical improvement possible (MIP), and every 5-7 years if medical improvement not expected (MINE). The proposed rule adds a category called “medical improvement likely” (MIL) in which reviews must occur every two years and requires review for people in the MINE category every 6 years. The deadline for comments has been extended to January 31. Learn more. Submit your comments and view sample comments here.

Social Security: SSA Extends Comment Period on CDR Rule

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has extended its deadline for comments on its proposed rule to expand the use of continuing disability reviews (CDR). Currently, SSA reviews eligibility for Old Age Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits more or less frequently based on three different categories: every 6-18 months if medical improvement expected (MIE), every 3 years if medical improvement possible (MIP), and every 5-7 years if medical improvement not expected (MINE). The proposed rule adds a category called “medical improvement likely” (MIL) in which reviews must occur every two years and requires review for people in the MINE category every six years. The deadline for comments has been extended to January 31. Learn more.

Social Security: Bipartisan Social Security Bill Introduced in House and Senate

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Representatives John Larson (D-CT) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) introduced the Know Your Social Security Act (S.2989, H.R.5306). This bill requires the Social Security Administration to provide each beneficiary an annual Social Security Statement by mail unless an individual opts out. The Arc supports this bill.

Social Security/Income Support: Representatives Reintroduce SSI Restoration Act

On October 30, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and 9 co-sponsors reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2019 (S.2753). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $123 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $399 per month, and updating the resource limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple. Congress has not adjusted these limits in many years. In addition, the SSI Restoration Act would repeal SSI’s in-kind support and maintenance provisions as well as penalties for resource transfers, marriage, and state tax credits. The Arc strongly supports the SSI Restoration Act.

Social Security/Income Support: Representatives Reintroduce SSI Restoration Act

On September 11, Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 20 other co-sponsors reintroduced the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Restoration Act of 2019 (H.R.4280). The bill would update and enhance the SSI program by updating the general earned income disregard to $123 per month, updating the earned income disregard to $399 per month, and updating the resource limits to $10,000 for an individual and $20,000 for a couple. Congress has not adjusted these limits in many years. In addition, the SSI Restoration Act would repeal SSI’s in-kind support and maintenance provisions as well as penalties for resource transfers, marriage, and state tax credits. The Arc strongly supports the SSI Restoration Act.

Social Security: House Committee Holds Hearing on Social Security Financing Bill

On July 25, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R.860). The bill would make Social Security benefits more adequate by providing a modest across-the-board increase, improving annual cost of living adjustments, and increasing the minimum Social Security benefit to 25 percent above the federal poverty line. Additionally, it would create a single Social Security Trust Fund to simplify Social Security’s operations and ensure that Social Security is able to pay full scheduled benefits for the next 75 years through modest enhancements to revenues. The Arc strongly supports the Social Security 2100 Act. Testimony from the hearing is available on the committee website.

Social Security: Trustees Release 2019 Annual Report Showing Extended Solvency

On April 22, the Social Security Board of Trustees released “The 2019 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance and Federal Disability Insurance Trust Funds.” The 2019 report finds that at the end of 2018, Social Security’s reserves were $2.89 trillion. The Trustees project that Social Security’s combined Trust Funds can pay all scheduled benefits through 2035, at which point the Trust Funds would be able to pay approximately 80 percent of scheduled benefits. The Trustees also find that the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund can pay full scheduled benefits through 2052, after which the fund will be able to pay about 91 percent of scheduled benefits. This is 20 years later than projected in the 2018 Trustees Report, due to ongoing declines in applications, awards, and the number of people receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Social Security: Bill Introduced to Enhance Benefits for Widow(er)s With Disabilities

Senators Robert Casey (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have introduced the Surviving Widow(er) Income Fair Treatment Act of 2019 (SWIFT Act; S.345). The bill seeks to fix outdated and arbitrary Social Security benefit provisions for widow(er)s with disabilities and surviving divorced spouses. The bill would: allow widow(er)s and surviving divorced spouses with disabilities to receive 100% of the survivor benefit they are entitled to regardless of their age; give widow(er)s and surviving divorced spouses the ability to increase the value of their survivor benefits beyond current arbitrary caps; enable widow(er)s and surviving divorced spouses caring for children to receive child-in-care benefits until their children are age 18 or 19 if still in school; and require the federal government to proactively provide information to widow(er)s and surviving divorced spouses about benefits they are eligible for, claiming options, and important deadlines.

The Arc supports the SWIFT Act as a much-needed enhancement to Social Security benefits. Visit the Senate Committee on Aging website to view a press release and learn more about the SWIFT Act.