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Social Security Online
Social Security Update
March 2010
In This Issue:

Apply Online for Medicare in Less than 10 Minutes

Disability Hearings Backlog Reduction Plan Working

Extended Service Teams Help States with Disability Claims

Our Budget Makes Things Happen

Alzheimer's Association Honors Commissioner Astrue

Apply Online for Medicare in Less than 10 Minutes

Patty Duke: Apply for Medicare Online in Less than 10 Minutes Patty Duke is back — and this time she’s brought the entire family! Social Security has reunited the cast of The Patty Duke Show for a series of public service announcements to promote our new online application for Medicare. 

Watch the spots at www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly. 

Your clients who want to apply for Medicare can visit www.socialsecurity.gov and select the “Retirement/Medicare” link in the middle of the page.  The whole process can take less than 10 minutes.
 

Disability Hearings Backlog Reduction Plan Working

The number of pending Social Security disability appeal hearings is down to 697,437 cases — the lowest level since June 2005, and down more than 71,000 cases since December 2008, when the trend of month-by-month reductions began.  The average processing time for hearing decisions has decreased to 442 days, down from a high of 514 days at the end of fiscal year (FY) 2008.

“This remarkable progress shows our backlog reduction plan is working," said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. "With ongoing support from the President and Congress as well as the efforts of our hardworking employees, I am confident the hearings backlog will continue to diminish.”

Learn more by reading the press release at http://socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/hearings-backlog-0310-pr.htm.

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Extended Service Teams Help States with Disability Claims

This month, Social Security’s first Extended Service Team (EST) is open for business in Little Rock, Arkansas.  This team is providing adjudication support to states most adversely affected by the flood of new initial disability claims.

The Arkansas EST is staffed with 100 new hires who are a mix of disability examiners, medical consultants, and support staff.  Social Security is training 180 additional employees for three new ESTs in Mississippi, Virginia, and Oklahoma.  These states have a history of high quality and productivity, as well as the capacity to hire and train significant numbers of additional staff.

The strategy behind ESTs builds on Social Security’s success with National Hearing Centers, where cases are handled electronically from all over the country.  The centralized units have reduced the hearings backlog and improved processing times at some of the hardest-hit hearing offices.

For more information, read our press release at
http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/est-pr.htm

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Our Budget Makes Things Happen

Our Budget Makes Things HappenDue to the downturn in the economy and the aging of baby boomers, more Americans than ever before are turning to Social Security.  Congress understands this and recently provided the agency with resources to improve service to the American people.  

Looking ahead to fiscal year (FY) 2011, Social Security will continue to focus on the primary goal of eliminating the hearings backlog by the end of FY 2013, while we complete claims and hearings. At the same time, we will broaden and strengthen our service delivery channels, and we will continue to invest in service and infrastructure improvements that will help us meet tomorrow's challenges. 

Learn more about our FY 2011 budget overview at www.socialsecurity.gov/budget.  

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Alzheimer's Association Honors Commissioner Astrue

Commissioner Astrue HonoredThe Alzheimer’s Association has given Commissioner Astrue its 2010 Humanitarian Award.  The honor is made each year to a public official who has made a significant contribution to help those who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. 

President Barack Obama said, “I congratulate Mike for receiving this honor, and I know he joins me in admiration for the tremendous work that the Alzheimer's Association does every day."

Harry Johns, President and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, stated, “On behalf of all the individuals who now won’t have to go through a long decision process and multiple lengthy appeals to obtain their benefits, the Alzheimer’s Association is proud to honor Commissioner Astrue for establishing this initiative which helps to ease the burden of so many families.”

To read more, read the press release at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/humanitarian-award-pr.htm

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