Social Security Administration launches: New Wage Reporting Application

On September 23, 2017, we released a new wage reporting application behind the my Social Security portal. Now, people who receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and their representative payees can report wages securely online.

It’s faster and easier than ever before for SSDI beneficiaries and their representative payees to report wages; they can avoid visiting a field office to report their wages in person and they can print or save a receipt of their report.

When you sign up or log in to your my Social Security account, you’ll have access to this application on your desktop, laptop, and mobile device. After you report your wages online, you can save or print a copy of your receipt.

This service will be available for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients in the future. SSI recipients should continue to report wages through SSI Mobile Wage Reporting, SSI Telephone Wage Reporting, or by visiting a local field office.

We’re constantly expanding and improving our services to put you in control of your time by providing them when, where, and how you need them. You can learn more about this new wage reporting service here.

Retrieved from https://blog.ssa.gov/new-wage-reporting-application/

NEW from Social Security: What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know

Social Security recognizes same-sex couples’ marriages in all states, and some non-marital legal relationships (such as some  civil unions and domestic partnerships), for purposes of determining entitlement to Social Security benefits, Medicare entitlement, and eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Here are five things you should know about our benefits for same-sex couples:

  1. Marital status is important — same-sex couple can receive Social Security benefits when a worker retires, becomes disabled, or dies. We also consider marital status when we determine eligibility and payment amount for Supplemental Security Income.
  2. What type of benefits can you receive — Social Security taxes pay for three kinds of benefits: retirement, disability, and survivors. If you‘re entitled to benefits, your spouse and eligible family members might receive benefits, too.
  3. Children may receive benefits — your children or stepchildren could also be entitled to benefits.
  4. When you apply for benefits is important — if you’re married or have entered a non-marital legal relationship, we encourage you to apply right away, even if you’re not sure you’re eligible. Applying now will protect you against the loss of any potential benefits.
  5. Report life changes right away — you should let us know immediately if you move, marry, separate, divorce, or become the parent of a child. Don’t wait until we review your benefits to tell us about any changes. You should report changes right away so benefits are paid correctly.

For more information, please visit Social Security’s website for same-sex couples. You can also read our publication What Same-Sex Couples Need to Know.

Article Retrieved from:http://blog.socialsecurity.gov/what-same-sex-couples-need-to-know/

Work Incentives Spotlight: Impairment-Related Work Expenses

Impairment-Related Work Expenses

What are impairment-related work expenses?

IRWEs are the costs associated with certain items and services you need to work. They apply to all SSDI beneficiaries and to SSI beneficiaries. To learn more about Work Incentives for people who are blind, download Social Security Work Incentives for People who are Blind.

While IRWEs need to be used for work, the items and services can also be used in daily living. For example, a wheelchair that you use at your workplace may count as an IRWE even though you also use it at home and when you are not working.

Other examples may include medicine, disability-related changes to your home or vehicle, or costs for a service animal. IRWEs may also be out-of-pocket expenses such as medical supplies and doctor visits.

How IRWEs affect your disability benefits

If you receive SSDI, Social Security will deduct the cost of IRWEs from your gross earnings when deciding if your work is substantial gainful activity (SGA).  Social Security uses the term “substantial gainful activity” to describe a level of work activity and earnings and to help determine your eligibility for SSDI or SSI. Work is “substantial” if it involves doing significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. Work activity does not need to be performed on a full-time basis to be substantial — part-time work may also be SGA.

For 2017, SGA is defined as earnings of $1,170 per month for someone who is not blind and $1,950 per month for someone who is blind. Both SGA amounts are subject to change.

Social Security deducts IRWE for SGA purposes when:

  • The item(s) or service(s) enable you to work;
  • You need the item(s) or service(s) because of a physical or mental impairment;
  • You pay for the item(s) or service(s) and are not reimbursed by another source such as Medicare, Medicaid or a private insurance carrier; and
  • The cost is “reasonable,” that is, it represents the standard charge for the item or service in your community.

If you receive SSI disability benefits, Social Security will exclude IRWEs from your earned income when they figure your monthly payment amount if:

  • You meet the requirements above, and
  • You paid the expense in a month that you received earned income or performed work while using the IRWE.

Earnings from work may affect the amount of your monthly SSI payment. But because IRWEs reduce the amount of your “countable income,” you may be able to keep more of your SSI payment while you work. Here’s an example of how IRWEs affect your benefits:

Ellen Jones receives SSI benefits because she has a disability. She works and earns $1,025 a month, which is the only income she receives. She has the following work expenses:

  • She pays $125 a month for union dues and insurance; and
  • She pays $250 a month to a special transportation service that she needs to get to and from work because of her disabling condition.

Although Ms. Jones has work expenses of $375 a month, only the $250 of her earnings, which she uses to pay for the special transportation service, are related to her impairment. Because they  are considered IRWE, the amount is deducted from her countable earnings and are not counted in determining the amount of her SSI benefit as follows:

$1,025 – $20 (general exclusion) = $1,005
$1,005 – $65 (work exclusion) = $940
$  940 – $250 (impairment–related work expense) = $690
$  690 / 2 = $345 (SSA only counts 50% of your earnings)
$  345 = countable earnings

IRWEs and Other Work Incentives

To learn more about IRWEs and other Work Incentives, visit www.ssa.gov/work or one of the following resources:

Social Security’s Red Book
Choose Work blog: Meet Your Employment Team: WIPA Projects and PABSS Organizations
Meet Your Employment Team

About Ticket to Work

Social Security’s Ticket to Work program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work.
The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

Learn More

To learn more about the Ticket program, visit www.ssa.gov/work. You can also call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

*Retrieved from  SSA.gov

Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota Launch ABLE Programs

The ABLE National Resource Center, managed by National Disability Institute (NDI), is excited to congratulate the States of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota on the launch of their respective ABLE plans. All 3 programs are members of the National ABLE Alliance, a group of 14 states that have pooled resources in order to offer their respective ABLE programs. Additionally, all 3 of these recently launched plans are open to eligible individuals with disabilities nationwide.

Both programs allow qualified individuals with disabilities to save up to $14,000 a year in an ABLE account without jeopardizing their eligibility for federally-funded means tested benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid. The funds in the account can be used for disability-related expenses that assist the beneficiary in increasing and/or maintaining his or her health, independence or quality of life.

Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families are often relegated to a life of poverty as a result of not being allowed to build even the most modest levels of resources. Individuals receiving supports through Social Security, Medicaid and other publicly-funded programs are often disqualified from those supports if they have more than $2,000 worth of resources or assets. Now, with the launch of nationwide ABLE programs, individuals with disabilities and their families will be able to take a step to better secure their financial futures and to help offset the often significant financial challenges that can accompany living with a disability.

Not unlike the other ABLE programs across the country, all 3 of these ABLE Plan programs focus efforts to ensure minimal costs associated with establishing and maintaining an ABLE account (which can be done all online). For all 3 programs, the annualized investment costs on assets per investment option range from 0.34% to 0.38%, depending on which investment option(s) you select. Each account is charged an annual account maintenance fee of $60 as a base (split into quarterly payments) and an annual paper delivery fee of $15 for the printing and mailing of statements and confirmations. However, the annual paper delivery fee will be waived if you sign up for electronic delivery and an additional discount may be available for in-state residents (lowing the annual fee to as little as $40 or $10 every quarter).

Illinois ABLE, IAble, Minnesota ABLE Plan, NC ABLE, Kansas ABLE, ABLE Nevada, The Alaska ABLE Plan program, RI’s ABLE Plan program, the ABLEnow program, Kentucky STABLE program, Oregon ABLE Savings Plan, ABLE for ALL, MiABLE, ENABLE, ABLE TN, Ohio STABLE Account, and ABLE United programs are the programs currently enrolling beneficiaries, and they are doing so primarily via their online portals. We are also expecting several other states to launch ABLE programs throughout 2017.

For more information on the Illinois ABLE Plan program and how to enroll, please visit https://savewithable.com/il/home.html.

For more information on the IAble Plan program and how to enroll, please visit https://www.iable.gov/.

For more information on the Minnesota ABLE Plan program and to enroll, please visit https://savewithable.com/mn/home.html

For more information related to ABLE programs and accounts in general, and for the latest news regarding other state programs, please visit the ABLE National Resource Center at www.ablenrc.org.

This article courtesy of NABWIS (National Association of Benefits and Work Incentives Specialists  2017

 

 

It’s Official: ABLEnow is Open for Enrollment

Today marks an exciting milestone for people with disabilities, their families and advocates. ABLEnow is open for nationwide enrollment at able-now.com.

The ABLEnow program opens today on the two-year anniversary of the federal Stephen Beck, Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act being signed into law, authorizing states to establish ABLE savings programs.

ABLEnow provides people with disabilities the opportunity to save money for today’s needs or invest for tomorrow. These simple, affordable and tax-advantaged accounts allow eligible individuals to save up to $14,000 a year without endangering eligibility for certain means-tested benefit programs such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The ABLEnow program offers some of the lowest fees in the country, an online portal to manage your account and the ABLEnow Card—a debit card providing a simple, fast way to pay for qualified disability expenses. Eligible individuals can start their ABLEnow account with no enrollment fee and no minimum contribution.

Visit able-now.com to learn more and open your account today.

 

Stay tuned for more Iowa specific information as we receive it!

Coming Soon: Improved Check Your Application or Appeal Status Service

Posted on December 1, 2016 by Doug Walker, Deputy Commissioner, Communications

In December, Social Security will launch a new service for my Social Security account holders where the public can check on the status of an application for benefits or an appeal filed with us.

The service will provide detailed information about retirement, disability, survivors, Medicare, and Supplemental Security Income claims and appeals filed either online at socialsecurity.gov or with a Social Security employee.

The ability to check your application status will be available online to everyone who has or opens a secure my Social Security. You can open an account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

The service will provide important information about your claim or appeal, including, as appropriate:

  • Date of filing;
  • Current claim location;
  • Scheduled hearing date and time;
  • Re-entry numbers for incomplete applications;
  • Servicing office location; and
  • Claim or appeal decision.

If you are unable to open a my Social Security account, you can still call 1-800-772-1213 to check your claim status by using our automated system using the confirmation number you received when you filed your claim.

Providing our customers with more claim status information helps us meet our goal of delivering innovative, quality services to you and helping secure today and tomorrow.

Retrieved from : https://blog.ssa.gov/coming-soon-improved-check-your-application-or-appeal-status-service/

An Increase in Social Security Benefits in 2017.

This month the Social Security Administration annouced the following on their website SSA.gov:

The annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) usually means an increase in the benefit amount people receive each month. By law, the monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) federal benefit rate increases when there is a rise in the cost of living. The government measures changes in the cost of living through the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The CPI-W rose this year. When inflation increases, your cost of living also goes up. Prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive.  Since the CPI-W did rise, the law increases benefits to help offset inflation. As a result, monthly Social Security and SSI benefits for over 65 million Americans will increase 0.3 percent in 2017.

Other changes that would normally take effect based on changes in the national average wage index will begin in January 2017. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security payroll tax will increase to $127,200.

Information about Medicare changes for 2017, when announced, will be available at www.Medicare.gov.  For some beneficiaries, their Social Security increase may be partially or completely offset by increases in Medicare premiums.

You can find more information about the 2017 COLA at www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.  For changes in the national average wage index, go to www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/AWI.html.