This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures.
Social Security Online
Social Security Update
July 2011

In This Issue:

Budget Cuts Force Reduced Public Hours

Social Security Administration Online Beginning August 15, 2011, Social Security field offices nationwide will close to the public 30 minutes early each day. That means a field office that is usually open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. will close at 3:30 p.m. each day.

"While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow us to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime for our employees," said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. "Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past."

Most Social Security services do not require a visit to an office. For example, anyone may visit to apply for retirement, disability, or Medicare benefits. Also on our website, beneficiaries may sign up for direct deposit, replace a Medicare card, obtain a proof of income letter, or inform us of a change of address or telephone number.

100 Disability Conditions Now Fast-Tracked

Commissioner Astrue

This month, Commissioner Astrue announced 12 additional Compassionate Allowances conditions involving severe heart diseases, bringing the total number of conditions in the expedited disability process to 100.

Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for disability benefits. "We have reached a significant milestone," Commissioner Astrue said. "We have an obligation to award benefits quickly to people whose medical conditions are so serious they clearly meet our disability standards. We are now able to do precisely that for 100 severe conditions."

This year, the agency expects to fast-track nearly 150,000 cases. To find out what the new conditions are, read the recent press release

For more information on Compassionate Allowances, visit

Work Incentives Simplified

Work Incentives

Social Security, Congress, and the President share the goal of encouraging people who receive disability benefits to go to work. However, the existing work incentives can be confusing, which results in payment errors.

In response to this, the FY 2012 President's budget includes the Work Incentives Simplification Pilot (WISP) legislative proposal. Under the pilot, work would no longer be a reason for terminating disability benefits. Social Security would continue to pay cash benefits for any month in which a beneficiary's earnings are below our established threshold, but would suspend benefits for any month in which earnings are above the threshold.

To learn more about this pilot, read Deputy Commissioner Carolyn Colvin's congressional testimony from earlier this year

Visit for more information on the Ticket to Work program and other work incentives.

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