Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries
On April 13, 2018, The Strengthening the Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 was signed into law.
Section 101 strengthens oversight of representative payees by requiring additional types of on-site reviews, improving the effectiveness of the reviews, and providing for an increased number of reviews. The law directs Social Security to work with state Protection & Advocacy (P&A) organizations to conduct all periodic onsite reviews and additional discretionary reviews. The P&As will also conduct educational visits and reviews based on allegations they receive of payee misconduct.
Section 102 reduces the burden on families of Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients. Social Security will exempt the following representative payees from the annual requirement to account for the use of benefit payments:
- Natural or adoptive parents of a minor child beneficiary or recipient who primarily reside in the same household as the child;
- Legal guardians of a minor child beneficiary or recipient who primarily reside in the same household as the child;
- Natural or adoptive parents of a disabled adult beneficiary who primarily reside in the same household as the beneficiary; and
- Spouse of a beneficiary or recipient.
All representative payees are still required to keep records of how they spend or save the benefit payments. They must provide these records to Social Security for review if requested.
For more information, you and your clients can go to www.socialsecurity.gov/payee.
Request an Appeals Council Review Online
If your client was recently denied Social Security benefits or Supplemental Security Income payments, they can request an appeal. Now, claimants requesting review at the Appeals Council level and their appointed representatives have an additional option to submit their request online.
The online appeals application is simple, convenient, and secure; it guides your clients and their appointed representatives through every step of the process, including any necessary documentation. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was supported and in accordance with Social Security law and regulations.
This new service is part of our commitment to delivering excellent service and providing claimants with more options to conduct their business. You can learn more about how your clients can request an Appeals Council review at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html.
Social Security's National Disability Forum
Social Security’s National Disability Forum, Acquiring and Using Electronic Medical Records, is on August 22 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Washington, D.C. The Disability Forum gives stakeholders an opportunity to share their unique insights on topics of particular interest to Social Security early in the rulemaking process and directly with policymakers.
The forum will serve as a listening session that brings public awareness to disability policy. Through this dialogue, we will obtain feedback on best practices for the acquisition and use of medical records, common challenges associated with those records, and the future of electronic health information.
You and your clients can learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/thirdparty/whatsnew.html.
Wage Reporting Accuracy
For over 80 years, Social Security has been committed to maintaining the accuracy of earnings records used to determine benefit amounts. We rely on employers and workers for much of this vital information. Social Security records workers’ earnings to ensure people get the benefits they have earned.
Employers are responsible for providing accurate earnings information for their employees. There are a number of reasons why reported names and Social Security numbers (SSNs) may not agree with our records, such as typographical errors, unreported name changes, inaccurate or incomplete employer records, or misuse of an SSN. Businesses and employers can sign up for our Business Services Online (BSO) at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso to verify that employee records are correct and resolve any name and SSN mismatch issues. Our free tool, the Social Security Number Verification Service (SSNVS), allows employers to verify that their employees’ information matches Social Security’s records.
You can also encourage your employees and clients to check their lifetime earnings record to verify that it’s complete and correct. They can create or log in to their personal my
Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and review their online Social Security Statement to verify their earnings. Your clients should notify Social Security if there is a discrepancy in their earnings record or if earnings are missing. Errors can affect their entitlement to benefits and future benefit amount.
Social Security is committed to providing the right benefits to the right person. With your help, we can ensure everyone receives the correct amount.
Medicare is our country’s health insurance program for people age 65 or older. The program helps with the cost of health care, but it doesn’t cover all medical expenses or the cost of most long-term care. You have choices for how you get Medicare coverage. If you choose to have original Medicare coverage, you can buy a Medicare supplement policy (called Medigap) from a private insurance company to cover some of the costs that Medicare does not.
Medicare has four parts:
- Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) helps pay for inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility (following a hospital stay). Part A also pays for some home health care and hospice care.
- Medicare Part B (medical insurance) helps pay for services from doctors and other health care providers, outpatient care, home health care, durable medical equipment, and some preventive services.
- Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B. Some plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) and other extra benefits and services.
- Medicare Part D (Medicare prescription drug coverage) helps cover the cost of prescription drugs. Some people with limited resources and income may also be able to get Extra Help with the costs—monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments—related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth about $4,900 per year. You must meet the resources and income requirement.
Medicare’s different parts are further explained in our publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/EN-05-10043.pdf.
You and your clients can learn more about Medicare, including how to apply for Medicare and get a replacement Medicare card, at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/medicare.
Celebrate Your Independence, Control your Future
As the country celebrated its independence this year, people were accessing their my
Social Security accounts and taking control of their future. Knowing you have access to vital programs and information helps you create security for yourself and your family.
We regularly update my
Social Security with new features to make your life easier. The site now accepts wage reports electronically from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and deemors, concurrent beneficiaries, and representative payees. This capability had been available only to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries and their representative payees.
There are also a growing number of states (and the District of Columbia) where, if you have a driver’s license or state-issued identification card, you can request a replacement Social Security card online. Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount to create or access your account now.