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Social Security Online
Social Security Update
June 2008

In This Issue:

We Help Fathers Save on Prescription Drugs — You Can Too!

Social Security Has the Best Tickets in Town

Social Security Service “Extremely Fragile”

See Our Progress on Tackling the Disability Backlog

Pop Culture Makes Mark on Popular Baby Name List

We Help Fathers Save on Prescription Drugs — You Can Too!

Medicare PosterSpreading the word about the Medicare Prescription Drug Program — and the extra help available through Social Security — is important to us.  One of our latest products created to support our outreach efforts is a new publication targeting adult sons and daughters who want to help their fathers save money on prescription drugs.  The theme is “I saved my dad $3,600 on prescription drugs.  You can too!”   

Many people with limited income and resources qualify for these big savings and don’t even know it. To find out if someone is eligible, Social Security will need to know their income and the value of their savings, investments and real estate (other than their home). If they are married and living with their spouse, we will need this information for both of them.

With your help, we hope to reach a good number of potential beneficiaries this Father’s Day.  You can find a copy of the new publication at www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp/10164.htm.

 

 

 

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Social Security Has the Best Tickets in Town

Ticket To Work Work IncentivesSocial Security has issued final rules that are designed to improve the Ticket to Work program.  This new regulation is intended to expand the universe of service providers available to beneficiaries with disabilities who seek vocational rehabilitation, employment and related support services. 

“These rules outline a new and improved Ticket to Work program and are based on learning from our experiences, listening to input from interested parties, and responding to their suggestions,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security.  “Beneficiaries with disabilities will have greater flexibility and expanded choices in obtaining the services they need to attain their employment goals.”

With the new improvements to the program, more beneficiaries become eligible, incentive payments for Employment Networks have increased, the value of the tickets have increased and we’ve better aligned those involved with the program.  Find out more about the improvements by reading the press release at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/tickettowork-pr-0508.htm.

 

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GAO Testifies Social Security Service “Extremely Fragile”

At a May 8, 2008 hearing convened by the Senate Finance Committee, Barbara Bovbjerg of the Government Accountability Office testified that while “service is still being provided and mostly in a timely way”  in Social Security field offices, it is becoming “extremely fragile.” 

Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) opened the hearing with the following remark, “In recent years, Social Security field offices have faced three obstacles.  Their traditional workloads have grown.  They have been given new jobs (activities associated with increased identity verification and Medicare Prescription Drugs).  And the budget cuts have reduced their staffing levels.” 

According to GAO, retirement and disability filings are expected to increase Social Security’s workload significantly in the next several years at exactly the same time that the Agency’s own staff will retire at greater rates.   In response to testimony that it takes two to three years to fully train a field office employee, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) noted, “That's longer than it takes to train an astronaut.”
 
“We need sustained adequate and timely resources to overcome years of budget shortfalls and surmount the challenges facing us,” Linda McMahon, Social Security’s Deputy Commissioner for Operations, stated.

 

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See Our Progress on Tackling the Disability Backlog

ODAR Semiannual Report 2008In May 2007, Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue announced plans to reduce the backlog of hearing requests and to prevent its recurrence.  Since then, Social Security has made significant progress with a number of initiatives outlined in the Commissioner's plan.  The aggressive new approach includes increasing efficiency, improving business practices and expanding use of automation. 

Some notable accomplishments include hiring 133 Administrative Law Judges for 64 locations, opening the National Hearing Center and reducing the number of aged cases.

Care to see the progress for yourself?  The numbers speak for themselves.  Read the semiannual report, which provides specific information on the progress Social Security has made from October 2007 through March 2008, at
www.socialsecurity.gov/appeals/Backlog_Reports/Semiannual_Report_FY08.pdf

 

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Pop Culture Makes Mark on Popular Baby Name List

Most Popular Baby Names of 2007Every year, Social Security announces the most popular baby names based on Social Security card applications — and the 2007 list has been released.  This year, pop culture has made its mark on the list.  Jacob and Emily continue to top the list, but some famous names are moving up. 

For example, Shiloh, the youngest daughter of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, debuted at number 804 on the list.  Maddox, the name of their oldest child, has seen steady gains since first appearing on the list in 2003 at number 583 and now ranking at number 226.  Miley is new to the girls’ list this year, entering fairly high at number 278, attributable to the popularity of teen sensation Miley Cyrus.   

Finally, Elvis has risen 85 spots from number 761 to number 676 — further proof that Elvis lives.  Learn more by reading the press release announcing the most popular baby names of 2007 at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/baby-names2007-pr.htm.

 

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