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December 2011 Archives

In The News

Recent announcements regarding the Social Security Administration (SSA) have indicated that an independent review of the system is set to take place soon. Without doubt, there has been a great deal of speculation in the past with regards to numerous presumed flaws in the federal disability program-and the proposed study will undertake a review of approximately 1,500 Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) with various award-rating backgrounds (or rather, ALJs with award rates ranging from extremely high to extremely low). Of the numerous presumed flaws in the SSA's disability program, the extreme inconsistency in benefit award rates that exist from one ALJ to the next has been a top headline for some time. Recommendations for improvement of the system are predicted to be available next year.

Understanding Supplemental Security Income and Your Resources

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays monthly cash benefits to people who are age 65 or older, those who are blind or those who have a disability and who do not own much or have a lot of income. The standard of disability is the same as with Social Security Disability (SSD). However, to qualify for Supplemental Security Income, a financial need threshold must also be met. SSI kicks in for the disabled when they do not qualify for SSD or the amount of SSD they will receive puts them below the financial standard. When evaluating whether or not you qualify for SSI, the Social Security Administration looks at your resources. Resources, for instance, can be items such as cash; bank accounts, stocks, and U.S. savings bonds; land; life insurance; personal property; and anything else you own which could be changed to cash and used for food or shelter. In order to qualify to receive SSI, in addition to meeting the disability requirements, your countable resources must not be worth more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. It is the total value of your resources that, when combined, are one of the factors that determine your eligibility for benefits. Not all resources count for SSI, however. For instance, the Social Security Administration does not count the following: the home you live in and the land it is on; household goods and personal effects (for example, your wedding and engagement rings); burial spaces for you or your immediate family, as well as burial funds for you and your spouse, each valued at $1,500 or less; and one vehicle, regardless of value, if it is used for transportation for you or a member of your household--just to name a few. One thing to keep in mind is the possibility of a future transfer of resources. Transferring a resource involves either giving it away or selling it. For example, an individual may, under their current circumstances, qualify for SSI benefits. However, a decision to transfer a resource may result in the ineligibility for SSI for up to 36 months. The length of time you would be ineligible for SSI is dependent upon the value of the resource that was transferred. Conversely, if the value of a resource that was transferred does not bring the total of your countable resources over the $2,000 limit for an individual or $3,000 limit for a couple, your eligibility would remain intact. As always, we recognize that the circumstances are different for each of our clients, and we will do our best to make you aware of the process along the way. While we cannot change the Social Security Administrations requirements, we are always available to answer any questions our clients may have!

Location, Location, Location...

We've all heard that location plays a big role in certain things such as real estate. But, did you know if can play a role in your Social Security Disability process, too?  A recent article depicted the scene of a small rural town in Virginia that had a rate of more than one out of four working aged adults (ages 15 to 64) receiving Social Security Disability payments.

Baby Boomers Playing a Role in the Social Security Disability Applicant Increase

In our last blog, we talked about the weak economy and unemployment rate and its effect on the rising number Social Security Disability claims. So, it may not come as much of a surprise to learn that there are numerous other factors at play in the lengthy process many individuals are a part of right now. Age, for instance, is playing a larger role than it has in the past. More specifically, the Baby Boomers are hitting the system...and they're making an impact.

News & Features

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Social Security Tax Tips from Harry J. Binder

You are allowed a deduction for every expense you incur...Read More