February, 2000 SSA's Internet service, SSA Online, reached the rank of #10 on the list of most frequently visited federal government Web sites.

February 8, 2000 A contract to renovate the Annex Building at Social Security headquarters was awarded to Hensel Phelps, Inc., the ninth largest general contractor in the United States. All work is to be completed by August 30, 2001.

February 15, 2000 SSA launched its Electronic Newsletter (e-News) through which visitors are able to subscribe to Social Security e-news, a monthly electronic newsletter providing brief items on the latest Social Security information of public interest.

February 16, 2000 SSA signed International Totalization Agreement with Chile, the first such agreement with a South American country.

February 29, 2000 A unanimous House Ways & Means Committee passed by voice vote legislation to repeal the Social Security Retirement Earnings Test.

February 29, 2000 White House released a State-by-State Report on Medicare ("America's Seniors and Medicare: Challenges for Today and Tomorrow") which the President argued demonstrates the need for Medicare reform.

March 1, 2000 The full House of Representatives passed H.R. 5, the "Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 2000" (eliminating the Retirement Test), by a vote of 422 to 0 (with 13 members not voting).

March 13, 2000 In a ceremony held in Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Joung-binn Lee, signed the U.S.-Korean Social Security "totalization" agreement.

March 14, 2000 SSA posted on its Web site the new Appeals Council Process Improvement Action Plan, an outline of short-term initiatives to improve processing of the Appeals Council review of hearing decisions.

March 14, 2000 Results from SSA's annual customer satisfaction survey show significant improvement in ratings for Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 from the year before. Overall satisfaction with SSA's service rose to 88 percent, up from 82 percent in FY 1998. Also, 44 percent of the respondents rated service "excellent," up from 30 percent last year.

March 14-16, 2000 SSA sponsored the National American Indian - Alaska Native Conference in Denver, Colorado.

March 22, 2000 The Senate, by a vote of 100-0, passed H.R. 5 (with a technical amendment) eliminating the Retirement Test.

March 22, 2000 Jack S. Futterman, former Social Security executive and one of SSA's early pioneers, died at his home in Baltimore, after a long illness.

March 28, 2000 The House of Representatives agreed to the Senate amendment to H.R. 5, the "Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 2000," by a recorded vote of 419-0 and cleared the measure for transmission to the President.

March 30, 2000 The Board of Trustees reported that the Social Security trust funds will remain solvent until 2037 (a gain of three years from last year).

April 2000 SSA issued its FY 2001 Government Performance and Results Act Annual Performance Plan
and Revised Final FY 2000 Performance Plan. This document serves as the link between our long-range
Agency Strategic Plan and the President's FY 2001 budget request for SSA.

April 6, 2000 Social Security Commissioner Kenneth Apfel, and American Federation of Government Employees National Union President Bobby Harnage, signed a new four-year collective bargaining contract.

April 7, 2000 President Clinton signed the Senior Citizens' Freedom to Work Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-182) at a White House Ceremony. The Act eliminated the Retirement Earnings Test for beneficiaries at or above Normal Retirement Age.

April 7, 2000 SSA launched its electronic Retirement Planner as part of its Internet services. The Planner was announced by President Clinton at the signing ceremony for the RET repeal.

May 8, 2000 SSA issued revised Social Security and SSI disability regulations to clarify the consideration of "age" as a vocational factor at the last step of the sequential evaluation process. SSA also amended its rules to better explain how we consider transferability of skills for individuals who are of "advanced age" (age 55 or older) in deciding whether such individuals can make an adjustment to other work

May 19, 2000 SSA's Office of Communications issued its Communications Report on strategies to improve the effectiveness of SSA's efforts to educate the public about the Social Security program.

May 30, 2000 SSA released its fourth Annual Report of the Supplemental Security Income Program. In January 2000, 6.3 million individuals received monthly Federal SSI payments averaging $350. Federal expenditures for cash payments under the SSI program during calendar 1999 totaled $27.7 billion, and the cost of administering the SSI program in FY 1999 was $2.5 billion.

June 2000 SSA was successful in obtaining $35 million in supplemental funding to upgrade personal computers for Agency employees.

June 13, 2000 SSA announced it is partnering with CommerceNet, a nonprofit consortium, to test a variety of Internet technologies to determine if they can be used by the agency to enhance customer service.

June 15, 2000 SSA held Hammer Award Ceremony for six SSA special teams.

July 2000 SSA received the Pioneer Award for Access American for Seniors from the E-gov 2000 Selection Committee.

July 11, 2000 SSA launched a new interactive application on its Internet site allowing Medicare beneficiaries to apply for a replacement Medicare card online.

July 24, 2000 Formal swearing-in and first meeting of the President's Work Incentives Advisory Panel.

July 24, 2000 SSA's first live Internet webcast conducted, of the meeting of the Work Incentives Advisory Panel.

July 26, 2000 President Clinton announced three new regulatory proposals to: (1) raise the SGA level automatically each year based on increases in the national average wage index; (2) increase the Trial Work Period amount from $200 to $530 a month and provide automatic yearly increases; (3) allow disabled students receiving SSI to exclude more income before their benefits are affected (more than triple the current amount). The changes were announced at a ceremony commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

August 4, 2000 President Clinton released a special statement in acknowledgment of the 65th anniversary of the Social Security Act.

August 5, 2000 SSA, in partnership with the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, hosted a special commemorative program in honor of the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act.

August 14, 2000 Commissioner Apfel dedicated a 65th Anniversary Garden on the grounds of SSA headquarters in Baltimore.

August 31, 2000 Based on data from the Bureau of the Public Debt, the invested assets of the combined OASI and DI Trust Funds passed the trillion dollar mark, at $1,001,712,600.

September 2000 Agency launches SSA's Mandate Against Red-Tape (SMART) initiative, in accordance with President Clinton's April 21, 1998 memorandum on Streamlining the Granting of Waivers.

September 7, 2000 Commissioner Apfel announced the release of SSA's "2010 Vision" document, charting the strategic changes ahead for SSA in the next decade.

September 14, 2000 SSA launched its year 2000 "Computers for Kids" campaign by donating 6,000 computers to Baltimore, MD city schools. The Commissioner announced that SSA would donate over 30,000 computers and equipment to public schools and educationally-related non-profit institutions nationwide during the next five months in conjunction with President Clinton's Digital Divide Initiative.

September 22, 2000 The Government Executive Magazine awarded SSA's Inmate Project the 2000 Government Technology Leadership Award for automating the receipt and processing of inmate reports.

October 2000 Gerald M. Shea was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board. His term is from October 2000 to September 2004. Mr. Shea previously served a recess appointment on the Board.

October 2000 Mark A. Weinberger was appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board. His term is from October 2000 to September 2006.

October 2000 David Podoff was appointed by the Senate to serve on the Social Security Advisory Board. His term is from October 2000 to September 2006. He replaced Lori Hansen on the Board.

October 3, 2000 Commissioner Apfel announced that when his term expires in January 2001 he will be leaving government to take a position with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin. Commissioner Apfel will hold the Sid Richardson Chair in Public Affairs--a position previously held by Wilbur Cohen, one of Social Security's most important pioneers.

October 12, 2000 SSA announced that its expanded online Benefits Planner now includes information on disability and survivors benefits, as well as retirement benefits.

October 25, 2000 President Bill Clinton announced that SSA is awarding $8 million in grants to 43 non-profit organizations and/or state agencies in 26 states and two territories to provide benefit planning, assistance and outreach for persons with disabilities who are attempting to return to work. These grants are part of The Ticket to Work initiative.

October 28, 2000 President Clinton signed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-386).

October 28, 2000 Dr. John L. Palmer and Dr. Thomas R. Saving were appointed by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to serve four-year terms as Public Trustee of the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance trust funds. Their terms began on October 28, 2000.

November 2, 2000 SSA Deputy Commissioner Bill Halter announced the availability of SSA's new online application process for Social Security retirement claims. Also, he announced an expanded use of SSA's 800 telephone system to take immediate retirement claims.

November 30, 2000 Commissioner Apfel announced that SSA has received the Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting for its FY 1999 Accountability Report.

December 29, 2000 SSA published final regulations rules implementing automatic adjustments each year to the substantial gainful activity level for individuals with impairments other than blindness, the trial work period, and the student earned income exclusion. These rules became effective January the 29th.

February 27, 2001 President Bush, in a speech to a joint session of Congress, announced that in the Spring he will appoint a bipartisan commission to make recommendations for Social Security reform. He also indicated his support for the Medicare proposals of Senators Breaux (D-LA) and Frist (R-TN) and Congressman Thomas (R-CA).

March 19, 2001 The Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds released their annual report--which found that the Social Security Fund has extended its solvency to 2038 and the Medicare Fund to 2029.

March 29, 2001 Larry G. Massanari, SSA's Regional Commissioner in the Philadelphia Region, was appointed by President Bush to serve as Acting Commissioner of Social Security.

May 2, 2001  President Bush announced the appointment of a 16-member bi-partisan Commission on Social Security. The Commission has been tasked to develop a proposal to modernize and restore financial soundness to Social Security, according to the principles the President announced in his State-of-the-Union Address.

June 11, 2001 The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security held its first meeting at the Willard Hotel, 14th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC.

June 14, 2001 The Health Care Financing Administration changed its name to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

July 12, 2001 President Bush announces his proposals for reforming Medicare.

July 17, 2001 President Bush formally nominated Jo Anne B. Barnhart to be Commissioner of Social Security
for a term that expires on Jan. 19, 2007.

July 19, 2001 The White House announced the President's intention to nominate James B. Lockhart III to be the Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.

July 24, 2001 Second meeting of the President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security. At this meeting the Commission accepted the Interim Report of the staff.

September 11, 2001 Terrorists attack the Pentagon and the World Trade Centers in New York City. SSA facilities around the country are closed as a precaution.

October 22, 2001 Acting Commissioner Larry Massanari announced that SSA has decided not to pursue any further testing or implementation of its Disability Claim Manager position. This was a three-year pilot-test involving 36 federal and State sites under SSA's Disability Redesign Plan.

November 1, 2001
The Senate Finance Committee favorably reported to the full Senate the nomination of Jo Anne B. Barnhart to be Commissioner of Social Security.

November 2, 2001 By unanimous consent, the U.S. Senate confirmed Jo Anne B. Barnhart as Commissioner of Social Security, for a term of office expiring January 19, 2007.

November 9, 2001 Jo Anne B. Barnhart was formally sworn-in as Commissioner of Social Security at 12:10 p.m. at SSA's office in the I.T.C. building in Washington, D.C. SSA Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources, Paul Barnes, conducted the swearing-in.

November 14, 2001 Jo Anne B. Barnhart's ceremonial swearing-in at SSA Headquarters in Baltimore.

November 15, 2001 Commissioner Barnhart issued a proclamation designating this day as "Larry G. Massanari Day" in recognition of his career-long achievements and, especially, his service as Acting Commissioner for the preceding 7 months.

December 5, 2001 The Senate passed a bill allowing $15 billion from the Railroad Retirement Fund to be invested in stocks and bonds and lowering payroll taxes and raising benefits in anticipation of the expected higher rate of return the stock market investments will yield. The Senate vote was 90 to 9 in favor of passage.

December 11, 2001 The President's Commission to Strengthen Social Security held its final meeting and voted unanimously to approve the Draft Final Report. The Commission declined to recommend a single reform proposal but instead offered three possible scenarios for how Social Security's long-range financing might be addressed.

December 18, 2001 Commissioner Barnhart signed-out the final regulations for implementing the "Ticket to Work" disability provisions and the regs. were sent to the Federal Register for publication.

January 25, 2002 The Senate confirmed by unanimous consent the nomination of James B. Lockhart, IIII, to be Deputy Commissioner of Social Security, for a six-year term of office, and the nomination of Harold Daub to be a Member of the Social Security Advisory Board for the remainder of the term expiring September 30, 2006.

February 5, 2002 James B. Lockhart, IIII, formally sworn-in to be Deputy Commissioner of Social Security.

February 5, 2002 The "Ticket to Work" program was officially launched in the first 13 States.

February 19, 2002 New updated rules, better reflecting the state of medical science, took effect regarding the evaluation of disabilities based on problems of the musculoskeletal system (the most common type of disability under Social Security).

February 21, 2002 Former SSA executive, Alvin M. David, died in Chicago at age 95. Mr. David was the head of the policy function at SSA for more than 20 years, prior to his retirement in 1973.

March 1, 2002 SSA implemented tighter rules on the issuance of Social Security cards to aliens not authorized to work in the U. S.

April 9, 2002 Former Social Security Commissioner Dorcas Hardy, who served as Social Security's Commissioner from 1986 to 1989, was appointed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert to the Social Security Advisory Board.

May 17, 2002 Commissioner Barnhart and Dallas L. Salisbury, chairman of the American Savings Education Council (ASEC), announced plans to enhance national education efforts on the importance of saving. SSA and ASEC will combine their efforts through the national "Save for Your Future" campaign, which will begin in spring 2003 and will include a partnership with State Farm Insurance companies.

September 30, 2002 SSA announced its new "eVital" project will provide immediate online verification of birth and death information--eliminating the need for the public to obtain and provide this documentation when filing a benefit claim or conducting other Social Security business. The project, starting in Colorado and scheduled to expand to seven additional states in the coming weeks, allows SSA employees to verify state birth and death information online, through a data exchange with the state agencies.

October 1, 2002 Totalization agreement between U. S. and Australia became effective.

November 2002 The COLA (cost-of-living-adjustment) for 2003 will be 1.4 percent, it was announced. The average retiree will receive an extra $13 a month. The Part B Medicare premium will increase to $58.70 per month.

February 3, 2003 President Bush proposed an $8.53 billion administrative budget for the Social Security Administration for Fiscal Year 2004. This is a 7.5% increase over the FY 2003 budget request. It is more than double the 4% increase the President proposed for his overall 2004 budget, and is the largest increase submitted since SSA became an independent agency.

March 17, 2003 Social Security Trustees released their 2003 Report, showing that the program will encounter a negative cash-flow in 2018 and the Trust Funds will be depleted in 2042.

April 2003 SSA released its new Agency Strategic Plan for the years 2003-2008.

May 2003 SSA changed the main URL of its website from "" to ""

May 1, 2003 SSA Deputy Commissioner teamed up with the American Savings Education Council to kick-off the "Save for Your Future" campaign at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

June 12, 2003 SSA reached the one-million mark in responses to Internet-received inquires since the Agency began keeping track of the figures in December 1996.

June 2003 The ListServ organization announced that SSA's electronic newsletter (ENews) is the third-largest electronic subscription newsletter in the world, in either the public or private sectors.

June 2003 For the fifth consecutive year, SSA received the "Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting" from the Association of Government Accountants (one of only six federal agencies so recognized). SSA is the only federal agency to receive the award for five years in row.

September 25, 2003 At a hearing before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, Commissioner Barnhart presented an approach to improving the disability determination process that would shorten decision times, pay benefits to people who are obviously disabled much earlier in the process and test new incentives for those with disabilities who wish to remain in, or return to, the workforce.

October 1, 2003 SSA Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart unveiled an historical marker on Baltimore's Candler Building to commemorate the building as the site of SSA's first operational headquarters. SSA occupied the building on Baltimore's Inner Harbor from October 1936 until January 1960.

October 2, 2003 Sylvester J. Schieber was appointed as a member of the Social Security Advisory Board for a six-year term.

November 5, 2003 Philadelphia Regional Commissioner, Larry Massanari, announced his retirement, effective January 2004.

December 8, 2003 President George W. Bush signed into law the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003.

February 19, 2004 Jo Anne Barnhart, Commissioner of Social Security, signed a "totalization" agreement with Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato that will remove from U.S. citizens working for U.S. companies in Japan the burden of paying social security taxes to both countries. Under such reciprocal agreements--which the U.S. has with many countries--only one country levies the tax and credit is given for benefits in the home nation. When the agreement with Japan takes effect, U.S. and Japanese employers and their employees will contribute to either the U.S. or Japanese social security systems, but not both. This will result in approximately 15,600 U.S. workers and their employers sharing in tax savings of $632 million over the first five years of the agreement.

March 2, 2004 President Bush signed into law H.R. 743, the Social Security Protection Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-203). This law contains more than 50 main provisions, many affecting the conduct of Representative Payees under the law, as well as a wide variety of other mostly administrative and technical matters.

March 25, 2004 SSA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) jointly transmitted to the Congress their proposed plan for transferring responsibility for Medicare-related hearings from SSA to HHS. This transfer was part of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003 and will take effect in mid-2005.

April 1, 2004 SSA announced the awarding of $6.6 million to fund outreach projects to assist homeless individuals apply for SSI and Social Security disability benefits. The awards, to 34 community groups in 16 states and the District of Columbia, are part of the Homeless Outreach Projects and Evaluation (HOPE) initiative.

June 29, 2004 SSA Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart signed a "totalization" agreement in Mexico City with with Dr. Santiago Levy Algazi, Director General, Mexican Social Security Institute, that will remove from U.S. citizens working for U.S. companies in Mexico the burden of paying social security taxes to both countries. It was estimated that this would result in approximately 3,000 U.S. workers and their employers sharing in tax savings of $140 million over the first five years of the agreement due to the avoidance of double-taxation. It was estimated that the agreement would also result in approximately 50,000 U.S. and Mexican workers receiving benefits after the first five years of the agreement.

July 15, 2004 President Bush signed into law H.R. 1731, the Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act which imposed criminal penalties for theft of another person's identity, including for purposes of obtaining Social Security-related benefits.

September 7, 2004 President Bush announced his intention to designate three individuals to be Members of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel: Cheryl Bates-Harris, of Pennsylvania, for the remainder of a four-year term expiring July 27, 2008; Dorothy L. Watson, of Maryland, for the remainder of a four-year term expiring July 27, 2008; and Berthy De LaRosa-Aponte, of Florida, to be Chairperson of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Advisory Panel.

March 23, 2005 The Social Security Trustees released their annual Trustees Report at a press conference in Washington, D.C.

June 29, 2005 The first online applications for extra-help in meeting prescription drug costs under Medicare were taken via SSA's online application process. Two Florida seniors at the Senior Friendship Center in Sarasota were the first people in the nation to use this new online service.

July 26, 2005 Commissioner Barnhart announces a proposed new regulation to facilitate the processing of Social Security and SSI disability claims by improving the disability determination process, building on SSA's new electronic disability claims capabilities. The aim of the proposed regulation is to shorten claim processing times and identify applicant who are highly-likely to be approved so as to facilitate an early decision on their claims.

August 14, 2005 SSA recognized the 70th anniversary of the Social Security Act.

September 9, 2005 SSA reported on its efforts to aid the victims of hurricane Katrina by facilitating the resumption of their Social Security and SSI benefits, including the issuance of more than 30,000 emergency payments.

March 27, 2006 SSA published its "final rule" in the Federal Register for its redesigned disability application process--the Disability Service Improvement initiative.The effective date for the changes identified in the rule is August 1, 2006. The final rule provides for: a quick disability determination process for those who are obviously disabled; a new Medical-Vocational Expert System (MVES) to enhance the expertise needed to make accurate and timely decisions; a new position--the Federal Reviewing Official--that will review state agency determinations upon the request of the claimant; retention of the right to request a de novo hearing and decision from an Administrative Law Judge; closing the record after the Administrative Law Judge issues a decision; a new body--the Decision Review Board--to review and correct decisional errors and ensure consistent adjudication at all levels of the disability determination process. The current Appeals Council is to be phased out gradually.

February 12, 2007 Michael J. Astrue is sworn in as the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, to serve a six-year term that will expire on January 19, 2013.

April 23, 2007 The Social Security Board of Trustees released its 2007 report.The report showed a slight improvement in Social Security’s projected financial status.

May 25, 2007 SSA announced new expedited procedures for disability and survivors benefit claims for active duty military personnel disabled in the line of duty after October 1, 2001 (regardless of where the disability occurred) and to their families in the case of the death of a service member. These claims now receive special priority handling.

July 9, 2007 Commissioner Astrue announced that Social Security will publish a proposed regulation to extend the quick disability determination (QDD) process to all State disability determination services. Up to now, the process has been operating only in the Boston region, comprised of the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Under QDD, a predictive model analyzes specific elements of data within the electronic claims file to identify claims where there is a high potential that the claimant is disabled and where evidence of the claimant’s allegations can be quickly and easily obtained.

September 4, 2007 The one-millionth online claim for Social Security retirement benefits was taken via SSA's internet-based application procedure.

September 5, 2007 SSA issued its Final Rule extending the Quick Disability Determination Model nationwide, on a phased basis.

October 1, 2007 SSA started using a redesigned version of the Social Security card, with enhanced security features to deter counterfeiting.

October 15, 2007 The official first "baby boomer" filed a claim for Social Security retirement benefits. Kathleen Casey-Kirschling--who was born one second after midnight on January 1, 1946--filed her claim online at an event hosted by SSA at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Although she would not be eligible for benefits until January 2008, SSA encourages applicants to file up to three months before their first month of eligibility.

October 19, 2007 SSA published its revised medical listings in the Federal Register for disorders of the digestive system. This is the first update to the listings for these types of disorders in more than 20 years. The new rules become effective on December 18, 2007.

December 4-5, 2007 SSA held a public hearing in Washington, D.C., to discuss its procedures and rules for expediting disability claims under its "Compassionate Allowances" regimen. This was the first of four public hearings that Social Security plans to hold over the next year.

January 29, 2008 After a brief illness, former SSA Commissioner Robert M. Ball died. He was the Agency's longest-serving Commissioner, having served under three Presidents--Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

February 12, 2008 The first "baby boomer" applicant for Social Security retirement benefits, Kathleen Casey-Kirschling, received her first benefit payment (via direct deposit).

February 26, 2008 SSA began making job offers to the first 144 of a planned 175 new Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) it plans to hire this fiscal year. The new ALJs are being hired to help speed up the processing of backlogged disability cases.

April 7, 2008 SSA held its second public hearing on compassionate allowances--a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards.  At the hearing, it was announced that the agency had entered into a first-of-its-kind agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide technical assistance to Social Security to help ensure that elements of the compassionate allowance initiative are based on sound, up-to-date medical science.

May 20, 2008 SSA issued final rules designed to improve the Ticket to Work program. The new Ticket to Work program rules: Include more beneficiaries under the Program; Increase incentive payments for Employment Networks; Increase the value of the Ticket; and Synergize efforts among providers and support agencies.

July 21, 2008 SSA's website-based Retirement Estimator became available. The Retirement Estimator provides immediate and personalized benefit estimates online to help people plan for their retirement. The Estimator provides highly accurate benefit estimates for those nearing retirement age. For younger workers, it provides valuable information to help them plan and save for their retirement.

October 6, 2008 October marked the 20th anniversary of Social Security’s toll-free 800-number service, which first allowed Americans to conduct business with Social Security on the telephone (1-800-772-1213). The 800-number passed a second, significant milestone this month. On Monday, October 6th the service handled its one billionth transaction. 

October 27, 2008 Commissioner Astrue announced the national rollout of the Compassionate Allowances initiative, a way to expedite the processing of disability claims for applicants whose medical conditions are so severe that their conditions obviously meet Social Security’s standards. Social Security is launching this expedited decision process with a total of 50 conditions.  Over time, more diseases and conditions will be added.

January 6, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, and Patty Duke, Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy winning actress, unveiled Social Security’s new online retirement application and launched the agency’s Retire Online campaign. 

January 28, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced today that improvements to the agency’s computer modeling system have increased the number of claimants receiving expedited approvals for disability benefits.  Social Security’s two-track system -- the Quick Disability Determination (QDD) process and Compassionate Allowances -- is now fast-tracking about 4 percent of all disability cases, a sharp increase from the 2.7 percent of cases fast-tracked last year.

February 12, 2009 The Social Security Administration’s online services have earned the highest overall score in the most recent e-Government Satisfaction Index.  The Index, which is administered by ForeSee Results in conjunction with the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), also gave three of SSA’s applications the highest scores in government.  In a separate survey, Nextgov, a website devoted to technology and the federal government, listed as one of the top five federal websites in its review of best online practices.

February 25, 2009 The Social Security Administration has been named the top Government Employer by readers of Equal Opportunity Magazine and also has received Top Ten Ranking in the 2008 Federal Human Capital Survey.

March 26, 2009 Vice President Joe Biden and Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced today that the federal government will send out $250 economic recovery payments to people who receive Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits beginning in early May 2009 and continuing throughout the month.

May 12, 2009 The Social Security Board of Trustees today released its annual report on the financial health of the Social Security Trust Funds. The Trustees project that program costs will exceed tax revenues in 2016, one year sooner than projected in last year’s report. The combined assets of the Old-Age and Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) Trust Funds will be exhausted in 2037, four years sooner than projected last year.

June 22, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that the agency plans to open a new teleservice center (TSC) in Jackson, Tennessee, which will be the first new call center opened by Social Security in more than a decade. 

August 27, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced today that the agency has entered into an agreement with Microsoft to test the use of Microsoft’s HealthVault application in the disability process. HealthVault is a free online service that enables people to gather, store and manage their families’ health information, and share that information with their physicians and healthcare providers.

September 30, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced the establishment of a new Financial Literacy Research Consortium (FLRC), made up of research centers at Boston College, the RAND Corporation, and the University of Wisconsin.

September 30, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that for the first time since 1999, the agency has ended the year with fewer disability hearings pending than in the prior year. Social Security ended fiscal year (FY) 2009 with 722,822 hearings pending compared to 760,813 hearings pending at the start of the year, a reduction of more than 37,000 cases.

October 15, 2009 With consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 57 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2010.  This will be the first year without an automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) since they went into effect in 1975.

November 9, 2009 SSA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR) is now available. Our FY 2009 PAR combines our annual performance report with our audited financial statements to provide full disclosure of our financial and programmatic operations. FY 2009 marks the twenty-third year that we have published audited financial statements and the sixteenth year that we have received an unqualified opinion on our financial statements.

November 13, 2009 Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today announced that the online Retirement Estimator, available at, now can provide immediate and personalized benefit estimates to people who have enrolled in Medicare but have not yet filed for Social Security benefits.