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Social Security Online
Social Security Update
March 2009

In This Issue:

Vice President Biden: Recovery Payments Will "Make a Big Difference"

Commissioner Astrue Testifies Before Congress

Beware of Recovery "Phishers"

Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel Holds Its First Meeting

Doing the Numbers

Vice President Biden: Recovery Payments Will “Make a Big Difference”

Vice President Joe Biden and Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue announced the Federal Government beginning in early May and continuing throughout the month will send $250 one-time economic recovery payments to people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.

One Time Payment"These are checks that will make a big difference in the lives of older Americans and people with disabilities - many of whom have been hit especially hard by the economic crisis that has swept across the country," Vice President Biden said.

In February, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which provides for the one-time economic recovery payments.

All beneficiaries can expect a payment by the end of May 2009. No action is required on the recipient's part. Social Security asks that individuals and representatives not contact Social Security about an economic recovery payment unless not received by June 4, 2009.

"We have been working diligently to issue the $250 one-time economic recovery payments as soon as possible," Commissioner Astrue said. "The legislation requires extensive coordination with other federal agencies and I'm pleased we are on track to issue these recovery payments earlier than the statute requires. Soon, more than $13 billion will be in the hands of more than 50 million Americans."

To learn more, read our press release at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/recovery-payments-pr.htm.

Or go directly to Social Security's web page about the recovery payments, where you can view a video, read a pamphlet, and find more information. The web address is www.socialsecurity.gov/payment.

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Commissioner Astrue Testifies Before Congress

On March 24, Commissioner Astrue appeared before Congress to testify about the Social Security disability backlogs and related service delivery issues.

Michael J. Astrue"The economic downturn, combined with the retirement of the baby boomers, and the fraying of our physical and technological infrastructure have diminished our ability to address our rising workloads and backlogs," said Commissioner Astrue. "Despite our growing challenges, we have made real progress within the past few years. We have begun the hiring and work that - if not for the economic downturn - would have produced more visible results for the American public, not just in terms of reduced backlogs and processing times, but also in terms of shortened field office wait times and fewer busy signals. Although it may not be readily apparent in these challenging times, we have achieved measurable successes."

"We are committed to working with Congress and the American people to address our challenges and improve service for the years ahead. We are confident that with your support, the support of our stakeholders, and the necessary resources, we can achieve our goals," Commissioner Astrue testified.

Read Commissioner Astrue's testimony to Congress in full at www.socialsecurity.gov/legislation/testimony_032409.htm.

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Beware of Recovery "Phishers"

No ScamBeneficiaries are, no doubt, looking forward to receiving their one-time recovery payments from Social Security. But Social Security wants to warn people not to fall victim to scammers who may be "phishing" for a cut of their own.

To make sure no one does, we'll state the facts as clearly as possible:

  • All Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who are eligible for the special one-time recovery payment will have their payment issued in May;
  • The payment is automatic; and
  • There are no requests to make, no applications to complete, no emails to respond to and no fees to pay.

If you or one of your clients receives an email from anyone claiming to want to help obtain your payment, don't fall victim to the scam.

Social Security has an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) that will investigate allegations of fraud, including circumstances where scammers attempt to intercept a beneficiary's one-time economic recovery payment. Please inform your clients about this latest scam and tell them to report such activity to Social Security's OIG at www.socialsecurity.gov/oig or by calling the fraud hotline at 1-800-269-0271 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST.

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Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel Holds Its First Meeting

The recently-formed Occupational Information Development Advisory Panel has held its inaugural meeting.

Occupationqal Information Development Advisory Panel First MeetingThe mission of the Panel is to provide independent advice and recommendations on plans and activities to replace the Dictionary of Occupational Titles currently used in Social Security's disability determination process.

The Panel advises the agency on the creation of an occupational information system to improve the administration of the disability program. Advice and recommendations relate to SSA's disability programs in the following areas:

  • Medical and vocational analysis of disability claims;
  • Occupational analysis, including definitions, ratings and capture of physical and mental/cognitive demands of work and other occupational information critical to SSA disability programs;
  • Data collection;
  • Use of occupational information in SSA's disability programs; and,
  • Any other areas that enable SSA to develop an occupational information system suited to its disability programs and improve the medical-vocational adjudication policies and processes.

More information, including the Federal Register announcement, list of panel members and charter may be found at http://www.socialseurity.gov/oidap/.

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Doing the Numbers

Financial StatusDid you know there's a website dedicated to actuarial projections and publications regarding Social Security? The site includes a wealth of statistical information about Social Security that groups and organizations - or anyone interested in doing the numbers - will find useful.

Just visit www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/pubs.html for a list of publications, reports, proposals and summaries - such as the 2008 Social Security and Medicare Trustee Reports, the 2008 Annual Report of the SSI Program, solvency memoranda and proposals, statistical tables and more.

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