This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current policies or procedures.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

In This Issue:

Monthly Benefits to Increase 3.6 Percent


Social Security has announced a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2012. The 3.6 percent COLA will begin with benefits that nearly 55 million Social Security beneficiaries receive in January 2012. Increased payments to more than eight million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 30, 2011.

Other changes that take effect in January are based on the increase in average wages: for example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax will increase to $110,100 from $106,800.

Learn more about the 2012 COLA at

To read about 2012 Medicare premiums, please visit

Disability Benefits Expedited for 13 Immune System and Neurological Disorders

""Social Security is adding 13 new conditions involving the immune system and neurological disorders to the list of Compassionate Allowances.

The Compassionate Allowances program fast-tracks disability decisions to ensure that Americans with the most serious disabilities receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years.

"Social Security handles more than three million disability applications each year, and we need to keep innovating and making our work more efficient," Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said. "With our Compassionate Allowances program, we quickly approved disability benefits for more than 60,000 people with severe disabilities in the past fiscal year."

For more information on the Compassionate Allowances initiative, and to see a list of the 13 new conditions, please read the press release at

Social Security Ranks as one of the Best-Managed Agencies

Social Security Administration

Social Security ranks as one of the top agencies in the Federal government, according to the 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The survey, conducted by the Office of Personnel Management, measured responses from more than 250,000 Federal employees across the nation.

"This survey confirms what many of us already know: Social Security is a wonderful place to work," said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security.

The survey is a government-wide assessment of Federal employees' job satisfaction and perceptions of their agency. The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey measures employees' perceptions of whether, and to what extent, conditions that characterize successful organizations are present in their agencies.

To learn more about the report, please go to

Cool as an eCAT

Model Agency Initiative

The Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) has recognized the team responsible for the Social Security's Electronic Claims Analysis Tool (eCAT) as a Federal best practice and a model of innovative collaboration.

What is eCAT? A tool that documents the evaluation process for disability claims. The tool helps in documenting, analyzing, and adjudicating disability applications, allowing a reviewer to understand the actions and conclusions throughout the process all in an electronic folder.

Learn more about eCAT and ACUS at the ACUS website.

Social Security Field Offices Closed on Nov. 25

""On Friday, November 25th all Social Security field offices will be closed to the public. Employees who work the day after Thanksgiving will focus on backlog reduction.

Please remind your constituents that Social Security's online office at is open every day of the year. Individuals can conduct many Social Security services online without the need to visit a local office. That includes applying for benefits, signing up for direct deposit, replacing a Medicare card, requesting a proof of income letter, or informing us of a change of address or telephone number. Members of the public also can find many services and up-to-date information by calling, toll free, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).

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