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2020 Medicare Premium and Deductible Figures Are In!


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced the new figures for Medicare Part B premiums,  deductibles and co-insurance that beneficiaries will have to pay. There have been small increases in both payments. The standard Part B premium will now be $144.60 each month, which is a $9…  
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Cover Your Eyes: A Peak at the Grisly State of Poverty and Disability Supports in the 1800s


A popular song of the 1840s relates the sorry tale of “The Workhouse Boy”. The poor unfortunate disappears one December evening and cannot be found even after his fellow inmates have been sent to search for him: “Ve sought in each corner each crevice ve knew/ Ve sought down the…  
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2020 Social Security COLAs Announced!


In line with past years Social Security has announced their Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) changes a few months before they take effect. Next year beneficiaries will see a 1.6% increase in their benefit amount. This means that full SSI amount for an individual will be $783 while a married…  
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CMS Announces New Medicare Plan Finder


In readiness for the new Medicare open enrollment season The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that is has updated its website to make its most visited  page more user-friendly. In keeping with the times you can now access the page on any modern device you can…  
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Equifax Data Breach: Were You Affected?


In September 2017 Equifax, the consumer credit reporting agency, admitted that it had suffered a cyber-security breach of its system which had compromised the personal data of some 147 million customers in the United States alone. That translates to roughly 1 in 3 Americans having their full names, addresses and…  
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The Maryland Employment Network is Hiring!!


The Maryland Employment Network is Hiring!! The Maryland Employment Network is an Employment Network through the Social Security Administration’s Ticket to Work Program. MD-EN provides services to Marylanders with disabilities to assist them with meeting their career goals and achieving financial independence.   MD-EN looking to fill a Career Consultant…  
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This Week in History: Social Security Act Signed into Law


It was in June 1934 as part of his New Deal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt created by executive order a Committee for Economic Security (CES) which was to study the issue of economic instability and make recommendations upon those findings. Six months later the committee submitted its report and…  
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HUD Now Exempts ABLE Accounts


In a notice issued earlier this month the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, better known as HUD,  formally recognized the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and will now disregard the amounts in beneficiaries’ ABLE accounts when determining eligibility and continued occupancy for HUD programs. This change…  
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April is National Social Security Month!


T.S Eliot famously set off on his epic poem“The Waste Land” by declaring it the cruelest month but April has an additional identity as National Social Security Month, even if the notion is still to catch on at a truly national scale. There is certainly little evidence of this august…  
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Need Financial Planning Assistance? CASH Can Help


The CASH Campaign of Maryland (Creating Assets, Savings and Hope) is a new program that has been set up to assist Maryland residents with modest means to work towards financial security. As part of that initiative CASH has been promoting its free Financial Planning Program where professional planners are ready…  
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1619b Threshold Figures for 2019 Already Announced!


Having had to wait until nearly halfway through 2018 for last year’s figures, this year Social Security has been able to publish their threshold amounts for the 1619b provision with a certain degree of punctuality. Although there’s no guarantee that the threshold will increase annually, in Maryland this year there…  
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2019 Federal Poverty Level Guidelines are In!


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has just published the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) guideline figures for this year. These figures, which as would be expected have increased from 2018, are used to determine eligibility for Medical Assistance through the Affordable Care Act and also set the eligibility…  
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The Closed Period: Benefits for Disabilities Past


When you apply for benefits you are effectively saying that you have a disability that is expected to last for at least a year. Most applicants will expect that the disability will last considerably longer than that but there is the option to receive benefits to cover a time when…  
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Shining a Light on Black Lung Benefits


The Federal Black Lung Program, which has been around since 1969, provides benefits to miners who contracted pneumoconiosis whilst working in coalmines and who have since become unable to work due to their condition. Coalworkers’ Pneumoconiosis (CWP), which is another term for Black Lung, is caused by long term exposure…  
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A Quick Note on SSI and Child Support Payments


SSI recipients are highly likely to be fully aware that any other income other than earned income is going to reduce their SSI quite markedly. Indeed, for the most part, there is only the standard $20 General Income Exclusion (GIE) that stands in the way of a complete dollar for…  
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Social Security Relax Reporting Requirements for Representative Payees


Social Security have recently decided to cut down on administrative work for certain representative payees and are no longer requiring the completion of the annual Representative Payee Report. The report, which payees complete to account for the use of the income that the beneficiary receives, is no longer required as…  
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2019 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles Announced!


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced the changes to Medicare Parts A and B premiums and deductibles for 2019. While 99% of Medicare recipients pay no Part A premiums, inpatient deductibles will increase from $1,364 in 2018 to $1,340 in 2019. Next year the standard monthly…  
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Questions about Unincurred Business Expenses? Social Security Has the Answers


Social Security’s Ticket to Work program has been running a highly reader-friendly series on work incentives and recently pointed the spotlight on Unincurred Business Expenses, which is one of the incentives available to self-employed SSDI recipients. You can find some straight answers to frequently asked questions right here: https://choosework.ssa.gov/library/faq-unincurred-business-expenses


2019 SSI and SSDI COLAs Announced!


Social Security has announced the Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) for 2019 and it’s good news as there will be a 2.8% increase in benefits in the new year. This means that the standard SSI Federal Payment for an individual will go from $750 to $771 a month; an SSI…  
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Cash on The Nail: Emergency Advance Payments (EAP) and Immediate Payments (IP)


It is somewhat heartening to find that Social Security has recognized that there are times and situations where some people will find themselves utterly without a means to pay for necessary services. To that end the agency has gone some way to provide financial assistance to those in need by…  
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Wait For It: SSI and Retrospective Monthly Accounting


Given the tight space between subsistence and penury in which SSI recipients are often required to exist it is something of a peculiarity of the SSI program that there’s a specific policy that can appear to leave beneficiaries bereft at the very moment they have the greatest need, whilst allowing…  
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What’s Different When Working on Child’s Benefits


Within the wonderful work of federal and state benefits we encounter benefits programs that seem determined to add to their already confusing regulations by laboring under titles that are unquestionably similar to other programs. Thus we have SSI and SSDI, Medicare and Medicaid, and here in Maryland there’s EID (Employed…  
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Compassionate Allowances: Social Security’s Fast-Track to Benefits Eligibility


As anyone who has applied for SSDI and/or SSI knows there’s the rather long and tedious application to get through. As part of that application you have to provide as much medical evidence of your disability as you possibly can, and if you don’t have it to hand then you’re…  
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Social Security Administration’s 2018 Red Book Out Now!


The much anticipated update of Social Security’s Red Book is finally available. The annually published guide is a general reference source for beneficiaries, providers, and the generally curious who need to know about work incentives and employment-related provisions for both the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance…  
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Job Vacancies – Benefits Case Manager


Job Announcements! Maryland Benefits Counseling Network – Benefits Case Manager  The Maryland Benefits Counseling Network is seeking two full-time contractual Benefits Case Managers to provide benefits technical assistance and work incentives counseling to assist individuals within Maryland State psychiatric hospitals to transition successfully into the community. Positions will serve as…  
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Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Made Better Yet


There has been a quite notable change to the ABLE program in Maryland, which actually came into effect on June 1 of this year. The change was designed to be more generous to beneficiaries and goes further than federal regulations in taking consumers’ needs into account. Thanks to a couple…  
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All About EID: Seeking Feedback on Your Experience


If you are currently enrolled in or have had experience applying for Maryland’s Employed Individuals with Disabilities (EID) program, please consider taking a moment to fill out a survey and provide feedback about your experience – positive or negative. Willing to Work, a newly formed Maryland initiative, is seeking personal…  
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Wage Reporting: Now with Automatic Reminders


In a further update to the new wage reporting options, Social Security is now offering beneficiaries the chance to opt in for an automatic reminder to report their wages. It doesn’t matter which method anyone uses to report their wages, be it by mobile app, phone reporting, by accessing their myssa…  
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2018 1619b Threshold Amounts Announced!


It has been a long while coming, but Social Security have just announced the 2018 threshold amounts for 1619b and in Maryland it has increased from $40,005 to $40,365. For a full list of those changes and for some more information on 1619b please have a look here: https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/1619b.htm


Breaking News! On-line Wage Reporting Now Available to SSI Recipients


It was not too long ago that any working SSI beneficiary had quite limited and decidedly 20th century methods for reporting his earnings to Social Security. Those options expanded with the introduction of the automated Telephone Wage Reporting system (SSITWR) and the Mobile Wage Reporting application (SSIMWR). Those methods remain…  
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