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Social Security applicants are able to both apply for benefit programs in person and online. There are many opportunities for Social Security that are accessible online. People can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits. Participants are also able to estimate their future benefits, check the status of their claims, and create a my Social Security account. Having online access to Social Security information and materials is very beneficial to participants. It enables people to apply, update, and review their Social Security information without going to a Social Security office.

Creating a my Social Security account is safe and secure, and the sign-up process is easy. To create an account, people must provide information, such as their email address, Social Security number, United States mailing address, and age of at least 18 years old. It is important to note that it is impossible to create an account on behalf of another person. By having a Social Security account, people are able to have direct access to their Social Security information and check the status of their benefits. In addition, people are able to check their benefit and payment information, updating personal information, create or revise a direct deposit, and report wages. Statements can come in the mail, but participants are also able to easily view their statements on their account. Since 2013, Social Security supplies benefits to participants using a direct deposit system. Older beneficiaries are also able to receive their payments electronically by updating their information in their my Social Security account. When filing for taxes, individuals will be required to present their Social Security documents. Form 1099 provides documentation of all the Social Security benefits that a person earned in the past year. Also, award letters are important as well. They include information about claims for benefits. Both documents can be accessed by my Social Security accounts.

Applicants are also able to apply for Social Security benefits. On the Social Security Administration’s website, applications are available online for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits. Along with the completed requirements and documents, applicants can complete and submit their application online. While waiting to receive the result of the application, people can look at the status of their application on their my Social Security account. Appeals can also be completed online. For example, if a disabled individual was denied benefits, they are able to request an appeal online.

Times are changing, and Social Security is implementing their own changes. Beginning in 2021, the Social Security Administration(SSA) is extending a new electronic verification system for Social Security numbers (SSN). The electronic Consent Based Social Security Number Verification Service (eCBSV) is currently available for certain participants to distribute to selected customers. The Administration plans to provide this system to more participants in 2021.

The commissioner of Social Security, Andrew Saul, claims that eCBSV “is an important online service that helps us provide participants and their customers with fast, secure and more efficient SSN verifications”. He also stated that the “new electronic SSN verification service helps reduce synthetic identity fraud by comparing agency records with data provided electronically by approved participants”. In other words, the eCBSC will become a safer and more convenient way to verify important personal information of Social Security members, including their Social Security number, name, and birth date. This method will be able to correctly identify and match an individual’s personal information with their Social Security records.

In order to use the electronic system, the Social Security Administration states that Social Security will require the person to provide written consent, which will disclose their Social Security number verification to their participating company. The SSA writes on their website that eCBVS will then return a matching verification of either “Yes” or “No”. They also note that the electronic verification will not verify someone’s identify. Eligibility requirements for the electronic Consent Based Social Security Number Verification Service are listed on the SSA’s website. They require that qualified companies are permitted entities and that they have an implemented employer identification number (EIN). An EIN identifies a business entity, and it is sometimes referred to as a Social Security number for businesses. Financial companies can provide eCBVS in partnership with Social Security, or they can select another source, such as a service provider, to conduct the transactions through the business.

More than 64 million people receive Social Security benefits in the United States each year. With a 1.3 percent increase in Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), the majority of people will be able to collect the increased payments. Along with other potential changes that may occur in 2021, the percent increase would be able to provide increased payments for eligible Social Security and SSI participants.

As explained by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index, federal benefit rates tend to increase when the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) also increases. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines COLA as an increase to Social Security and Supplemental Security Income that will help to decrease the effects of inflation. For example, inflation can be described as the increase of prices that consumers may pay for the year. Since 1935, the Social Security Act has created and maintained a specific formula to determine the amount for each COLA, which are based on increases in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates the amount of CPI-Ws each month to determine the gradual change in prices that are paid by consumers for goods and services. Since the rate of inflation has been relatively low for the past year, COLA is able to provide a positive percentage increase for Social Security benefits and payments. However, it can also be possible that there would be no COLA percentage increases for a year. If the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates that there is no change in inflation for CPI-Ws, there will not be a COLA for that year.

A new year can prompt new changes for Social Security and their applicants. Multiple sources are claiming that there will be 3 major changes for the program. Since the changes that are only proposed, there is no guarantee they will go into effect in 2021. In addition to the 3 major changes, it is possible that other changes and statues can occur as well. In 2021, it is important to stay informed about Social Security and any new adjustments that they may make. The 3 major potential changes are listed and described below.

There will be a 1.3% cost-of-living adjustment.

Beginning in January, the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will be set at 1.3 percent. Social Security states that cost-of-living adjustments allow Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to keep pace with inflation. The Social Security Administration determines a formula to calculate COLAs. According to AARP, the monthly Social Security benefits will increase by $20 for the majority of retired workers. As a result, the average annual benefit will be approximately $1,543. Previously, the annual amount was estimated to be $1,523 in 2020. In addition, retired couples and disabled workers will also receive an increase in COLA. Retired couples can potentially receive an increase of $33, and disabled workers can receive an increase of $16. Overall, the greatest monthly payment that people can receive from Social Security would be $3,148, which is an increase from $3,011 in 2020.

The Social Security Administration claims that almost nine out of ten people who are 65 years of age or older receive Social Security benefits. In addition to Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a retirement program to people who work in the United States. As defined by the SSA, the program administers retirement income to eligible retirees and their families. It is important to be informed about the specific benefits of retirement, as well as information that may be helpful when applying.

As defined by the SSA, Social Security replaces a percentage of an employee’s pre-retirement income based on their lifetime earnings, specifically the highest 35 years of earnings and when they choose to start receiving benefits. The tax money that workers pay to Social Security provide benefits to workers who are retired, disabled, survivors, or dependents of beneficiaries. Statista wrote on their website that there were approximately 45.1 million retired workers that received Social Security benefits in 2019.

The SSA defines more information about eligibility on their website. They write that individuals are able to apply for retirement benefits when they reach a certain age and have worked and paid toward Social Security in order to receive benefits. As stated on the website, a worker earns “credits” that are used to track their Social Security benefits. An individual must have 40 credits in order to be eligible. If they do not work and have not received the sufficient amount of credits, they will be unable to receive retirement benefits. The number of credits varies on the year that a person was born. As described by the SSA, people who were born in 1929 and beyond need to achieve 40 credits. To estimate, this would be equal to approximately 10 years of work experience.

Since it has been established, people have believed certain myths about Social Security Disability. However, not all information that is told about Social Security is correct. For example, statements can be overexaggerated or fabricated. It is important to research information about Social Security directly in order to receive accurate information and facts. Listed below are 10 myths that are common to hear about Social Security Disability. To find the information contained in the following explanations, visit the Social Security Administration’s website at www.ssa.gov.

A person needs to be disabled for a year before they can apply for disability benefits.

This myth is not true. The SSA lists in their Blue Book that a person qualifies for benefits if they have a disability as a result of an injury or illness that is predicted to endure for at least 12 months. If an employee is diagnosed by a medical official that states their injury will last for over a year and they will be unable to work, they should apply for Social Security Disability as soon as possible.

In a previous blog, we reported on the extensive wait that Pennsylvania residents can face when filing for Social Security Disability benefits. Many residents of Tennessee struggle with the same frustrations, but their congressman, U.S. Rep. John Tanner, is hoping to do something about it.

Tanner is the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. In an article on nwtntoday.com, Tanner stated, “Since the beginning of 2009, the hearings backlog has begun to slowly decline. This shows that Congress’ investment in SSA is starting to pay off.” Tanner and the subcommittee have urged the Social Security Administration to continue to focus on reducing the backlog in disability claims. “Because applicants often have little or no income while awaiting a decision on benefits, the backlog has caused severe hardship to hundreds of thousands of Americans with significant disabilities,” Tanner said in a statement.

Beth Bates, a Jackson, TN attorney who works with disability claimants, testified before the subcommittee about the impact the backlog has had on her clients. Bates said, “Foreclosures and bankruptcies have increased, with claimants losing their homes and vehicles and their economic stability.”

Tanner and the subcommittee have made reducing the disability backlog a priority that will help social security disability claimants not only in Tennessee, but in all states.

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Attorney Michael J. O’Connor of O’Connor Law recently appeared on a segment of “Life After 50”, which airs on television station KDKA in Pittsburgh. Attorney O’Connor discussed topics including social security disability, workers’ compensation, and nursing home abuse. The video clip below shows the episode of “Life After 50”.

No one expects to suffer a disability, but when they do it can be a comfort to know that benefits are available through the Social Security Administration. If an individual is unable to work because of a medical disability that is expected to last no less than 12 months, he or she, and sometimes certain family members, may qualify for disability income. However, applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a lengthy, difficult, and sometimes frustrating process.3192341451_c79179e0c1

In order for an individual to receive disability benefits, he or she must complete the application process. Additionally, Social Security requires that applicants prove they cannot do any work of any kind. As a result of this requirement, many individuals are denied and must take the next step: a hearing in front of a judge. But according to a chart from the Social Security Administration, as an example of the timeframe for those filing in Pennsylvania, it can take approximately 437 days to schedule a hearing in the Wilkes-Barre office.

This extensive processing time is a result of the growing population, including the baby boomer generation who has become sick or disabled. As the Social Security Administration wrangles with the extensive list of individuals applying for benefits, requests for its services are further increased as a result of the economy. In an article on NPR.org, Social Security Deputy Commissioner David Foster commented on the increase in requests. “We expect those numbers to go up very much in the next few years because of the recession,” said Foster. He continued, “There’s usually a correlation between the unemployment rate and then the amount of disability claims that we have.”

As the economy struggles to recover, it is more important than ever for those applying for Social Security Disability or Social Security Income to consult an experienced lawyer as soon as a disability occurs. Social Security lawyers are well-versed and experienced in every aspect of the claim process. In addition, laws and regulations may have limits for action; an individual can lose his or her rights by waiting. A lawyer can help by preparing and filing the appropriate appeal paperwork and other required forms, as well as compiling all the medical evidence and presenting testimony at the appeal hearing.

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