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Social Security Online
Social Security Update
October 2009
In This Issue:

No Inflation Means No COLA

January Retirees Should Apply Now

Open Season for Medicare Prescription Drug Program New Law Makes It Easier to Qualify for Extra Help With Costs

Get Benefit Verification Online

New Webinars Keep You Informed

No Inflation Means No COLA

No Inflation Means No COLAWith consumer prices down over the past year, monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 57 million Americans will not automatically increase in 2010.  This will be the first year without an automatic Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA) since they went into effect in 1975.

The Social Security Act provides that Social Security and SSI benefits increase automatically each year if there is an increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) from the third quarter of the last year to the third quarter of the current year.  This year there was no increase in the CPI-W from the third quarter of 2008 to the third quarter of 2009. 

To assist seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities recovering from the recession, President Obama has called on Congress to enact legislation extending an additional $250 Economic Recovery Payment. 

For more information about the President’s proposed additional one-time payment, see the White House Press Release from October 14, 2009, at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-calls-congress-extend-economic-recovery-payment-2010.

For more information about the 2010 COLA, read our press release at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/pr/2010cola-pr.htm. Also see our fact sheet, 2010 Social Security Changes at www.socialsecurity.gov/pressoffice/factsheets/colafacts2010.htm.

January Retirees Should Apply Now

January Retirees Should Apply NowIf you have a client who is planning to retire sometime early in 2010, now is the time to apply for Social Security benefits.  The most convenient way to apply is online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline.

Filing online means there is no need to visit a Social Security office or wait for a scheduled appointment with a Social Security representative.  Retiring online can take as little as 15 minutes. There are no forms to sign and, in most cases, no documents to submit. Tell your clients to apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov/applyonline

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Open Season for Medicare Prescription Drug Program New Law Makes It Easier to Qualify for Extra Help With Costs

Get help with prescription drug costs.The next open season for enrollment in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program will run from November 15 to December 31. Newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries, and current beneficiaries who are considering changes to their Medicare Part D plan, should mark their calendars for November 15. 

The Medicare Part D prescription drug program is available to all Medicare beneficiaries to help with the costs of medications.  Joining a Medicare prescription drug plan is voluntary, and participants pay an additional monthly premium for the coverage.

While all Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the prescription drug program, some people with limited income and resources also are eligible for “extra help” to pay for monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments.  The extra help is worth an average of $3,900 per year. 

Beginning January 1, 2010, changes in the law will make it easier for some people to qualify for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs.

Learn more by reading our new electronic fact sheet, Changes in the Law Could Make More People Eligible for Extra Help in 2010, at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs/10040.html.

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Get Benefit Verification Online

Get Benefit Verification Online This time of year, many states offer energy assistance to people who have limited income and resources to help with high heating costs during the winter.

If your client receives Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits and is applying for energy assistance, they can get proof of their benefit quickly and easily by going to www.socialsecurity.gov. Just look in the left column under “What you can do online,” expand the “If you get benefits” section, and select the “Request a Proof of Income letter” link. 

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New Webinars Keep You Informed

New Webinars Keep You InformedIf you want to learn about Social Security’s expanded services to wounded warriors, or information about the new, convenient, online Representative Payee Accounting form, Social Security has two new webinars coming up in November.

The Wounded Warriors webinar airs on Wednesday, November 4 at 2 p.m.  The Internet Representative Payee Accounting (iRPA) webinar airs on Tuesday, November 10 at 2 p.m.  You can learn more and sign up for these webinars at www.socialsecurity.gov.

Past webinars available on our website have focused on subjects such as applying online for retirement benefits and 2010 changes to the Medicare Extra Help program. These webinars are available now at www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars.

The new webinars on wounded warriors and iRPA are available live or after the original broadcast at the same link: www.socialsecurity.gov/webinars.

Participating in Social Security webinars is another way to stay informed on the latest Social Security issues that may affect your clients.

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