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SSI and SSDI recipients might be eligible for the second stimulus payment, even though negotiations on a new relief package are struggling. We’ll tell you how to file and what to do if you never got the first check.

Date: October 19, 2020

Today Social Security released a notice to more than 340,000 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients between the ages of 14 and 17 (transition-aged youth) and their adult representatives to help them identify policies and other resources to assist youth in their transition to adulthood. These mailings include a notice introducing our annual informational publication, What You Need To Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18 (Publication No. 05-11005). Caregivers are encouraged to review it with the child, if possible.

This publication helps youth prepare for the transition from school to adult life. It provides information about SSI work incentives primarily affecting youth, as well as information about common programs, services, and supports that parents, guardians, and youth may find helpful.

Specific programs covered include:

  • Student Earned Income Exclusion;
  • SSI Continued Payments (Section 301);
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Programs;
  • Department of Education’s Parent Centers; and
  • Medicaid — including the importance of keeping health insurance and having a primary care provider.

The publication can be obtained from the agency’s publication website in both English and Spanish versions.

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $142,800 from $137,700.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced. Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit

The IRS has extended its deadline to September 30, 2020, for people to provide information to the IRS using its Non-Filer Tool at People should do this if they:

  • receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments;
  • did not file a 2019 or 2018 tax return;
  • have a qualifying child under age 17; and
  • did not already enter information in the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool for themselves and at least one child.

If someone already entered information in the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool before, and even after, the IRS’ previously announced deadlines (April 22 if receiving Social Security; May 5 if receiving SSI) they do not need to do anything. The IRS will automatically make an EIP payment in October 2020 based on the information provided to them.

Read the IRS’ August 14 press release at for more information.

For other Social Security information, please visit the agency’s COVID-19 web page at

April 20, 2020

Act Now – Go to – A Message from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul

Action Needed for Social Security Beneficiaries with Dependents and Who Do Not File Tax Returns to Receive $500 Per Child Payment

“Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon. People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information. Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.

For more information, please visit

Big news! The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed the Abuse Registry Bill, also known as Nicky’s Law or Dana’s Law, by a vote of 154-0. This legislation will create a registry for people with substantiated findings of abuse against them by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission. It also will prohibit those on the registry from working again with people with disabilities. This is a big step forward to prevent repeat abusers from abusing people with disabilities, but our work to address abuse and neglect continues. Stay tuned!

jose at bus stopCurrently, the app is in its trial mode, sponsored by the Mobility Assistance for People with Cognitive Disabilities (MAPCD) study, which launched in April 2019 in collaboration with Ohio State University, Smart Columbus and Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA). MAPCD organized a year-long trial run of the app with 25 individuals with cognitive disabilities and their caregivers. The trial run will conclude a year later, and then the app will soon after become available for anyone in need.

Starting on January 8, 2020, Social Security offices nationwide will be open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced. This change restores Wednesday public service hours that were last in place in late 2012. “I don’t want someone to come to our office at 2:30 on a Wednesday only to find our doors closed,” Commissioner Saul said.

We have been inundated with calls from our clients receiving these cryptic ‘opt-out’ notices for video hearings. The rules changed in June because the Administration was concerned representatives might be ‘judge-shopping’ by waiting to see who the Administrative Law Judge will be for the video hearing, and then asking for an in-person hearing so it would be reassigned. Now, these notices are being sent to all claimants who have requested a hearing, before the case is assigned to an ALJ.

A few of our clients have asked if they may be able to get a hearing more quickly if they say a video hearing is fine. For most of the claimants we represent, the answer is almost certainly no, because as of August 29, 2014, the Stockton hearing office is the 4th fastest in the country:

Social Security recently announced an expedited process for disabled veterans. Veterans who have filed an application and meet the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100 % Permanent & Total (P&T) will be eligible for an expedited process. For more information:

Tax season is here again and if you are wondering if your taxes are affected by your benefits there are free resources to help you. Some disability insurance benefits can be taxable, to obtain more information contact:

IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service:

IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program (for those who qualify)

The Social Security Administration has just announced new information on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims affecting Same-Sex Married Couples. For more information see:

In December 2013 the Social Security Administration announced it would be cutting the following field office services:

  1. Benefit Verification Letters
  2. Social Security Number printouts

The benefit verification letters can still be obtained by calling the SSA’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. However, due to advocate concerns, the implementation of both of these service cuts has been delayed. We will keep you posted on the date of implementation as more information becomes available.

The Social Security Administration has announced that it has started to process payments to surviving spouse claims for same sex couples.

On November 19, 2013 Glenn Sklar, Deputy Commissioner for the Social Security Administration, Office of Disability Adjudication and Review, presented a report before the House Oversight Subcommittee hearing on the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) program. Mr. Sklar presented information on the rates of ALJs (Administrative Law Judges). His full statement at the hearing can be found at the Social Security Website: (

The Social Security Administration has released it yearly “Caseload Analysis Report.” The average processing time are:

Average processing time:

FY 2012: 353 days

FY 2013: 382 days

Our local Social Security Office is nationally ranked 3rd with an average processing time of 265 days.

Social Security has announced an increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment for Social Security and SSI beneficiaries in 2014. The rates are as followed:

COLA SSI (individual)

1.5% (2014) $721/mo (2014)

1.7% (2013) $710/mo (2013)

For more information please visit

The SSA Office of the Chief Actuary commented in an “Actuarial Note” on the benefits during our current economic conditions. On average there is a 2 year lag between unemployment rate and the year SSDI claims are filed.

“Because disability claims have historically increased in response to periods of high unemployment, it is reasonable to expect that the percentage of claims that are allowed would drop under conditions of high unemployment. Evidence presented in this note supports that expectation.”

Recently, the National Public Radio aired a series on the topic of Social Security programs in America. This has prompted a response from agencies most familiar with Social Security. Below you will find a letter from the former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration and a letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities.

An Open Letter From Former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration

April 4, 2013

As former Commissioners of the Social Security Administration (SSA), we write to express our significant concerns regarding a series recently aired on This American Life, All Things Considered, and National Public Radio stations across the U.S. (“Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America”). Our nation’s Social Security system serves as a vital lifeline for millions of individuals with severe disabilities. We feel compelled to share our unique insight into the Social Security system because we know firsthand the dangers of mischaracterizing the disability programs via sensational, anecdote-based media accounts, leaving vulnerable beneficiaries to pick up the pieces.

Approximately 1 in 5 of our fellow Americans live with disabilities, but only those with the most significant disabilities qualify for disability benefits under Title II and Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Title II Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (DI) benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits provide critical support to millions of Americans with the most severe disabilities, as well as their dependents and survivors. Disabled beneficiaries often report multiple impairments, and many have such poor health that they are terminally ill: about 1 in 5 male DI beneficiaries and 1 in 7 female DI beneficiaries die within 5 years of receiving benefits. Despite their impairments, many beneficiaries attempt work using the work incentives under the Social Security Act, and some do work part-time. For example, research by Mathematica and SSA finds that about 17 percent of beneficiaries worked in 2007. However, their earnings are generally very low (two-thirds of those who worked in 2007 earned less than $5,000 for the whole year), and only a small share are able to earn enough to be self-sufficient and leave the DI and SSI programs each year. Without Social Security or SSI, the alternatives for many beneficiaries are simply unthinkable.

The statutory standard for approval is very strict, and was made even more so in 1996. To implement this strict standard, Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations, policies, and procedures require extensive documentation and medical evidence at all levels of the application process. Less than one- third of initial DI and SSI applications are approved, and only about 40 percent of adult DI and SSI applicants receive benefits even after all levels of appeal. As with adults, most children who apply are denied SSI, and only the most severely impaired qualify for benefits.

Managing the eligibility process for the disability system is a challenging task, and errors will always occur in any system of this size. But the SSA makes every effort to pay benefits to the right person in the right amount at the right time. When an individual applies for one of SSA’s disability programs, the agency has extensive systems in place to ensure accurate decisions, and the agency is home to many dedicated public servants who take their ongoing responsibility of the proper stewardship of the programs very seriously. Program integrity is critically important and adequate funds must be available to make continued progress in quality assurance and monitoring. In the face of annual appropriations that were far below what the President requested in Fiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012, the agency has still continued to implement many new system improvements that protect taxpayers and live up to Americans’ commitment to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

It is true that DI has grown significantly in the past 30 years. The growth that we’ve seen was predicted by actuaries as early as 1994 and is mostly the result of two factors: baby boomers entering their high- disability years, and women entering the workforce in large numbers in the 1970s and 1980s so that more are now “insured” for DI based on their own prior contributions. The increase in the number of children receiving SSI benefits in the past decade is similarly explained by larger economic factors, namely the increase in the number of poor and low-income children. More than 1 in 5 U.S. children live in poverty today and some 44 percent live in low-income households. Since SSI is a means-tested program, more poor and low-income children mean more children with disabilities are financially eligible for benefits. Importantly, the share of low-income children who receive SSI benefits has remained constant at less than four percent.

Yet, the series aired on NPR sensationalizes this growth, as well as the DI trust fund’s projected shortfall. History tells a less dramatic story. Since Social Security was enacted, Congress has “reallocated” payroll tax revenues across the OASI and DI trust funds – about equally in both directions – some 11 times to account for demographic shifts. In 1994, the last time such reallocation occurred, SSA actuaries projected that similar action would next be required in 2016. They were right on target.

We are deeply concerned that the series “Unfit for Work” failed to tell the whole story and perpetuated dangerous myths about the Social Security disability programs and the people helped by this vital system. We fear that listeners may come away with an incorrect impression of the program— as opposed to an understanding of the program actually based on facts.

As former Commissioners of the agency, we could not sit on the sidelines and witness this one perspective on the disability programs threaten to pull the rug out from under millions of people with severe disabilities. Drastic changes to these programs would lead to drastic consequences for some of America’s most vulnerable people. With the lives of so many vulnerable people at stake, it is vital that future reporting on the DI and SSI programs look at all parts of this important issue and take a balanced, careful look at how to preserve and strengthen these vital parts of our nation’s Social Security system.


Kenneth S. Apfel
Michael J. Astrue
Jo Anne B. Barnhart
Shirley S. Chater
Herbert R. Doggette
Louis D. Enoff
Larry G. Massanari
Lawrence H. Thompson


Letter from the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:

A new program, Lifeline Assistance offers free cell phone service to those who qualify. An article in the Stockton Record on March 7, 2013 states that California residents who are a part of public assistance programs or earn less that $15,000 a year may qualify. An individual receiving help in the form of food stamps, Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income may qualify. For more information contact Assurance Wireless at (800) 395-2171 or Reach Out Wireless (877) 777-1914. You may also visit the websites or You can view the article in the Stockton Record for more information:

As you may have heard in the news, sequester is scheduled to take effect as of March 1, 2013. At this time, it seems mandatory government spending cuts will be implemented to reduce federal spending. Though it has been reported that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not be affected by cuts, it does not mean it will not be affected at all. The National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives (NOSSCR) sent out a memo regarding how sequestration will affect SSA. While monthly payments of benefits will not be affected, the budget cuts will affect other aspects of the agency. You may be aware that the SSA has already taken measures to reduce its budget by adjusting its field office hours of operation. With sequestration in affect, the hours of operation will be further impacted. This will result in longer wait times at field offices. This also means that you may have to wait longer for a response to any decisions on your claims.

On January 7, 2013, Social Security announced new features to my Social Security accounts online. An online service, my Social Security conveniently allows users to access their account information. Now the system has been expanded to include access to payment history, earnings record and a benefit verification letter. If you are a Social Security beneficiary, you may use the customized benefit verification letter as proof of income for loans, housing, state or local benefits (such as Medicare insurance coverage). If you are not yet a Social Security beneficiary, but would like to get estimates of your retirement, disability, and survivor benefits or check your earning record you can now access this information any time. Access to this service is safe and secure. For more information and to start using my Social Security, create an account at

On December 6, 2012, the Social Security Administration announced that it would include an additional 35 conditions to its Compassionate Allowance list. These recent additions now bring the total number of Compassionate Allowance listings to 200.

  • Adult Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Adult Onset Huntington Disease
  • Allan-Herndon-Dudley Syndrome
  • Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Beta Thalassemia Major
  • Bilateral Optic Atrophy- Infantile
  • Caudal Regression Syndrome – Types III and IV
  • Child T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma
  • Congenital Lymphedema
  • DeSanctis Cacchione Syndrome
  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Endometrial Stromal Sarcoma
  • Erdheim Chester Disease
  • Fatal Familial Insomnia
  • Fryns Syndrome
  • Fulminant Giant Cell Myocrditis
  • Hepatopulmonary Syndrome
  • Hepatorenal Syndrome
  • Jervell and Lange-Nielsen Syndrome
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Malignant Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumor
  • Malignant Germ Cell Tumor
  • MECP 2 Duplication Syndrome
  • Menkes Disease – Classic or Infantile Onset Form
  • NFU-1 Mitochondrial Disease
  • Non-Ketotic Hyperglycinemia
  • Peritoneal Mucinous Carcinomatosis
  • Phelan- McDermid Syndrome
  • Retinopathy of Prematurity – Stage V
  • Roberts Syndrome
  • Severe Combined Immunodeficiency – Childhood
  • Sinonasal Cancer
  • Transplant Coronary Artery Vasculopathy
  • Usher Syndrome – Type I

More information on Compassionate Allowances can be found on the Social Security Administration website: