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Social Security Online
Social Security Update
September 2009
In This Issue:

Microsoft’s HealthVault to Assist in Disability Process

Webinar Highlights Changes to Medicare Extra Help

Funding Extension Benefits People with Disabilities Who Want to Work

Improved Hearings Notices

Apply For Benefits Online--It's So Easy!

Microsoft’s HealthVault to Assist in Disability Process

Microsoft HealthVaultSocial Security has entered into an agreement with Microsoft to test the use of Microsoft’s HealthVault service in the disability process. HealthVault is a free online service people can use to gather, store, and manage their families’ health information. They can share the information with doctors and healthcare providers.

“The use of personal health records holds great promise for ensuring that the medical information we collect from someone applying for disability benefits is accurate and complete,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Combined with other advancements in health information technology, our use of HealthVault should result in faster decisions for disability applicants.”

Learn more about this new partnership by reading the press release. www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/ms-healthvault-pr.htm
 
More information on Social Security’s use of health information technology is available at www.socialsecurity.gov/hit.


Webinar Highlights Changes to Medicare Extra Help

Get help with prescription drug costs.For people who have limited income and resources, Social Security offers Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. A new webinar explains how changes in the law could make more people eligible next year.

Beginning January 1, 2010, the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act will make it easier for some people to qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Under the new law:

  • We will no longer count as a resource any life insurance policy; and
  • We will no longer count as income any help received regularly from someone else to pay for household expenses — food, mortgage, rent, heating fuel or gas, electricity, water, and property taxes.

Learn more by reading our new electronic fact sheet, Changes in the Law Could Make More People Eligible for Extra Help in 2010, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10040.html

And be sure to watch our online webinar about the changes. www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/webinarmedicare.htm

 

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Funding Extension Benefits People with Disabilities Who Want to Work

Ticket To WorkThe Congress recently passed, and President Obama signed into law the WIPA and PABSS Reauthorization Act of 2009. The bill extends funding for the Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) and the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security (PABSS) programs through fiscal year 2010.

Right now, there are 103 WIPA programs across the nation working with Social Security disability beneficiaries on job placement, benefits planning, and career development. With this support, beneficiaries are better equipped to make informed choices about work.

The PABSS program provides advocacy services to help beneficiaries navigate through the web of Employment Networks, Social Security rules, legal issues, and employment issues.

Read the press release at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/wipa-act-pr.html.
For more information about these programs and the Ticket to Work program, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

 

Improved Hearings Notices

Commissioner Astrue is committed to improving the clarity, quality, and readability of all correspondence from Social Security. To that end, Social Security recently began using a new, more user-friendly Notice of Hearing, aimed at helping claimants better prepare for their hearings before an administrative law judge.

There are several improvements in the new notice. First, it tells claimants at the beginning that they must bring valid picture identification because of security requirements in government facilities. This is important because claimants without required identification would have to reschedule their hearings for a later date causing an unnecessary delay.

The notice’s new language makes it easier to understand the legal information by eliminating provisions that can be complicated and confusing. And the new notice reflects changes in the law, including specific issues related to a claimant’s appeal. These items are now presented in order of importance.

For more information about disability hearings and appeals, visit www.socialsecurity.gov/appeals.

 

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Apply For Benefits Online--It's So Easy!

Apply For Benefits Online--It's So Easy!Did you know your clients can apply for benefits online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline. It’s so easy!

Whether your clients want to retire, apply for disability benefits, request a replacement Social Security or Medicare card, or research Social Security’s history, the most convenient and easiest way to do it is online.  Find out about all the online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices.

 

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