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Posts Tagged 'stimulus'

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Stimulus Payment Information for Seniors

The Social Security Administration has provided information on how stimulus payments will come to seniors.  According to SSA’s website:

 

This act provides for the one-time payment of $250 to individuals who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security benefits. We expect everyone who is entitled to a payment to receive it by late May 2009. No action is required on your part.  

 

You can also bookmark the SSA stimulus page for further updates on stimulus delivery details or sign up for email alerts.   

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Stimulus Compromise, Seniors, and Social Security

At $789 billion, the Economic Recovery compromise bill is actually less expensive than either the House or Senate’s original versions; however, funding for the Social Security Administration and stimulus for seniors survived the trimming. 

The Associated Press has a summary of key details. Following are some highlights affecting America’s seniors:  

One-time payments to seniors, disabled and veterans:

             $14 billion to give one-time $250 payments to Social Security recipients, poor people on Supplemental Security Income, and veterans receiving   disability and pensions.

 

            Social Security Administration  

            $500 million for the National Computer Center

            $500 million for Information Technology

            $2 million for the Inspector General’s office

 

            Healthcare 

            $21 billion to provide a 60 percent subsidy of health care  insurance premiums for the unemployed under the COBRA program

             $87 billion to help states with Medicaid

             $19 billion to modernize health information technology systems

             $10 billion for health research and construction of National Institutes of Health facilities

 

The House is expected to vote on the compromise tomorrow with the Senate expected to act before the Monday. 

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What Senate Stimulus Means for Seniors

Social Security News  provides a nice summary of the SSA provisions in the Senate’s economic recovery plan.    

“Senate compromise on the Obama economic stimulus package (see lines 461-464) does not change the amount going to the Social Security Administration from the bill that was reported to the Senate floor. The amount is still $893 million with $750 million going towards building a new National Computer Center (which will be several years into the future),$140 million going to other information technology projects at Social Security and $3 million to Social Security's Inspector General. The bill that passed the House contained $400 million for the National Computer Center, $500 million for reducing backlogs at Social Security and $2 million for the Inspector General.”

The Senate version also provides $17 billion for one-time payments of $300 to Social Security recipients, poor people on Supplemental Security Income and veterans receiving disability and pensions. However, the House does not provide stimulus to all those who receive Social Security.  They have targeted $4 billion to provide a one-time additional Supplemental Security Income payment to poor elderly and disabled people of $450 for individuals and $630 for married couples.  

 

There are many key differences between the House and Senate economic recovery plans and by all accounts, this is likely to be a difficult conference.  According to the Washington Post 

“Staff from both chambers have begun discussing the differences between the two bills, but the principals have not been in the same room since the most dramatic changes were made. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) spoke by phone with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Saturday while Pelosi was leading a three-day retreat for her caucus in Williamsburg. Aides declined to detail the conversation, but it came a day after Pelosi suggested that the Senate cuts in spending, which Reid endorsed, would do "violence" to struggling families.”

Here is the Associated Press summary of the key differences between the Senate and House versions of the economic recovery legislation.  The following Senators will serve on the conference committee:  Inouye (D-HI), Baucus (D-MT), Reid (D-NV), Grassley (R-IA), and Cochran (R-TN) .

We expect to hear who are the House conferees later today and members say they hope to meet right away in an attempt to meet their self-imposed President’s Day deadline.

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Seniors and Stimulus...Redux

OK...so "tweak" (from our last post) is clearly not even close to the right word to describe what's happening in the Senate on the economic recovery plan.  In truth, conservatives are now hoping to eviscerate this plan while a small group of moderates are searching for a reported $80-$100 billion to cut out of it. Among the proposed cuts being offered by moderates is $140 million targeted to go to the Social Security Administration for IT.  Here is the legislative description of how that money would be used:

$140 million shall be available through 9/30/10 for information technology acquisitions and research, which may include research and activities to facilitate the adoption of electronic medical records in disability claims and the transfer of funds to "Supplemental Security Income" to carry out activities under section 1110 of the Social Security Act: Provided further, That not later than 10 days prior to obligation of such funds, the Commissioner shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate an operating plan describing the planned uses of such funds.
It's hard to imagine how Senators see this expenditure as wasteful given the fact that millions of Americans are already sitting in an unacceptable disability backlog and SSA administrator Michael Astrue says the current economy has made it even worse: 
"The Social Security Administration is facing an influx of new disability claims due to the struggling economy, a factor impeding its ability to reduce a backlog of 765,000 hearing requests, the agency's commissioner said on Friday. In an interview with Government Executive, Social Security Commissioner Michael Astrue said the tough economy has increased the disability claims caseload by about 10 percent -- or 250,000 cases -- more than the agency had projected and budgeted for. He said SSA also has its hands tied when it comes to hiring new staff to address the increase in claims, largely because it is operating on a continuing resolution through March, which provides funding at fiscal 2008 levels. "Help is already too late," he said. ‘The tidal wave is hitting us, and we don't have the money to staff up appropriately.' "
Providing funds to speed up processing of disability claims is clearly not pork, it's  not wasteful and it deserves to remain a part of our nation's economic recovery plan.  We wonder if those Senators leading this effort, specifically Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) know: 
  • Increased Number of Disability claims filed 10/08-1/09 
  • Nebraska: 8.5%

    Maine: 12.6%

  • Increased Pending in Disability claims 1/09 versus FY 2008

Maine: 21.8%

Nebraska: 9.9%

  • In the Omaha, Nebraska Hearings Office there are:

3,299 pending hearings

1,655 are over 365 days old

Processing time this year is 562 days (national time is 485 days)

  •  In the Portland, Maine Hearing Office there are:

2827 pending hearings

70 are over 365 days old

Processing time this year is 259 days...unbelievably, this is the best in country

Speeding up the processing time for Social Security's disability claims is exactly the type of targeted economic stimulus which directly helps Americans suffering in this economic meltdown.   Email your Senator, tell them to stop playing politics and pass an economic recovery plan designed for Americans who desperately need it.

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Stimulus and Seniors

The Senate got it right on stimulus. The Senate stimulus plan would provide a one-time $300 payment to Social Security recipients, including disabled and older veterans and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries.

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