New Benefit Verification Letters
The Social Security Administration held discussions with stakeholders on ways to improve our Benefit Verification letters. We listened to those recommendations and are excited to release a new and improved letter. Soon, when a person requests a Benefit Verification letter, we will provide a standardized letter, whether they call asking us to mail the letter or get their letter using their personal my Social Security account. We will roll out the new Benefit Verification letters between July and September.
The new Benefit Verification letter includes additional identifiers in addition to name, date of birth, and the benefits received, if any. Clients receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can use their letter as proof of income for loans, housing assistance, mortgage, and other verification purposes. Individual representative payees can also use the new Representative Payee Portal with their own my Social Security account to see and print a current benefit verification letter online for themselves or their beneficiaries. Non-beneficiaries may request proof they do not receive benefits, or proof that benefits are pending, in the same standardized letter.
Social Security’s Plan to Better Serve Your Clients
We are committed to dramatically improving service to the millions of Americans who expect and deserve timely and accurate help from us. This effort requires that we modernize our technology to provide our employees with effective, easy-to-use tools that help them do their job well. As the COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored, we must offer additional online, remote service, and self-service options that you expect from organizations today.
While such service options depend on modern technology, many of our systems are more than 30 years old. Nearly two years ago, we initiated a multi-year Information Technology (IT) Modernization Plan to replace our outdated systems with updated technology and enhance our service capabilities. We have updated this plan to build upon the tremendous progress we have made over the past two years and to reflect input from public and private technology experts, our frontline employees, and most importantly, from our interactions with you.
This update enhances our focus to improve our services online, over the telephone, and in our local offices. We are also committed to ensure that the service options we offer are both secure and easily accessible. Currently, it is too hard for many people to prove who they are to access our online services, which is why improving our my Social Security account registration process is the foundation for our modernization efforts.
We will continue to review our IT Modernization plans and make sure they are flexible enough to keep up with rapid technology changes and future customer needs so that we deliver on your expectations. Your clients can read our IT Modernization plan at www.ssa.gov/open/materials/IT-Modernization-Plan.pdf and the 2020 Update at www.ssa.gov/open/materials/IT-Modernization-Plan-2020-Update.pdf.
Benefits for Children with Disabilities
Our Supplemental Security Income program helps children with qualifying disabilities and their families. For this program, a child must meet all of the following requirements to be considered disabled and medically eligible:
- The child must have a medical condition, or a combination of conditions, that result in “marked and severe functional limitations.” This means that the condition(s) must very seriously limit the child’s activities.
- The child’s condition(s) must have been disabling, or be expected to be disabling, for at least 12 months; or the condition(s) must be expected to result in death.
Have your clients visit www.ssa.gov/people/parents/ to learn more, including resources to help parents understand and prepare for child disability benefits.
Online Appeals Council Review
Claimants and their appointed representatives requesting a review of a Social Security or Supplemental Security Income claim at the Appeals Council level have the 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.
You can learn more about how your clients can request an Appeals Council review at www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html.
Disability Benefits When Your Clients Need Them
Disability benefits offer a financial lifeline for your eligible clients. Benefits are for severe impairments (or combination of impairments) that have lasted, or are expected to last, for at least one year or are expected to result in death. When determining if a person meets our definition of disability, we consider medical severity, duration, earnings, and ability to perform past relevant work or any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. There are two programs that pay disability benefits:
- Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you meet eligibility requirements including you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes to be insured.
- Supplemental Security Income makes payments to people who have low income and few resources, and who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled.
Your clients can learn more about Social Security disability benefits at www.ssa.gov/disability and about SSI at www.ssa.gov/ssi.