Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act

SSA benefits
The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act of 2018 (H.R. 4547), introduced by Reps. Sam Johnson (R-TX) and John Larson (D-CT), was signed into law this month, Financial Regulation News reports. The authors of the bill say the goal is to modernize the representative payee program. If you are not familiar with the program, below you will find a quick breakdown.

The representative payee program was authorized by Congress in 1939 allowing the Social Security Administration(SSA) to make benefit payments to another person or organization if the beneficiary is incapable handling their finances. Payees are usually family members, such as parents or spouses. Around 6.2 million people or organizations serve as representative payees on behalf of some 8 million beneficiaries, according to the Social Security Administration’s Office of the Inspector General.

“This new law is great news for the millions of Social Security beneficiaries who rely on a representative payee to help them manage their benefits,” said Johnson. “Not only will it provide much-needed accountability for the representative payee program, but it also puts measures into place that ensure newly selected representative payees are qualified and trustworthy. I thank Congressman Larson for working with me on this important legislation that will ensure Americans – from children, seniors, to individuals with disabilities – will have more peace of mind when it comes to having a representative payee they can trust.”

Protections for Social Security and SSI Recipients

The Strengthening Protections for Social Security Beneficiaries Act includes other provisions that SSA program beneficiaries will find of interest. H.R. 4547 disqualifies individuals from serving as representative payees if they have specific types of criminal convictions, the Disability Scoop reports. It should come as little surprise that the bill bars individuals who have representative payees themselves from fulfilling the same role for another beneficiary; if a person can’t manage their benefits then it makes sense that they can’t handle others. SSA beneficiaries will make a list of people who they would prefer handling their payments, the top of the list would be their first choice.

The law also requires protection and advocacy groups in each state to conduct performance reviews on payees and report to the administration. H.R. 4547 does away with a previous mandate requiring parents or spouses (living with a beneficiary) complete an annual accounting form.

 “For too long dishonest representative payees have exploited and abused people with disabilities without fear of being discovered,” said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network, an umbrella group for the nation’s protection and advocacy organizations. “That stops today. We are thrilled to see that Congress has acted to protect the more than 8 million Americans who currently have representative payees.”

Celebrating National Social Security Month

It is fitting that this new bill was signed during National Social Security Month.

Celebrate National Social Security Month. Take 5 steps toward your financial security. Start Now. Produced at U.S. Taxpayer Expense.


SSDI and SSI Attorney

If the SSA denied your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or you are applying for benefits for the first time, The Driscoll Law Corporation can help. Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll can help you or a loved one appeal the SSA’s decision and get the benefits you require. Please contact our office today.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Social Security’s National Disability Forum

Exciting news! The Social Security’s National Disability Forum on Financial Independence: Directing the Management of One’s Social Security Benefits is taking place on April 18, 2018; and, you are invited! The Social Security Administration is looking for input on, “how we can best assess a beneficiary’s ability to direct the management of his or her benefits?”

Moderating the forum is Howard Goldman, MD, MPH, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine. There are several ways you can take part, ask questions, and engage in the discussion via social media.

You can submit your questions topical to NationalDisabilityForum@ssa.gov, before and during the forum. You can also utilize Twitter to ask questions during the event, using @SSAOutreach and the hashtag #SSANDForum.

Enhancing The Representative Payee Program

“Social Security's Representative Payment Program provides financial management for the Social Security and SSI payments of our beneficiaries who are incapable of managing their Social Security or SSI payments,” the SSA website reads.

The upcoming forum aims to bring about a better understanding of the role supporters should play for beneficiaries. The discussion has two sessions, Session 1 (10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT): “How to Strengthen & Clarify Instructions on Directing the Management of Benefits.” Session 2 (1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. EDT): “How to Define the Role of a Supporter for Individuals Who Direct the Management of Their Benefits?”

Discussion panelists will include:
  • Marty Ford, Senior Executive Officer, Public Policy, The Arc
  • Nina Kohn, Associate Dean for Research and Online Education, Syracuse University College of Law
  • Pamela Teaster PhD., Director, Center for Gerontology, Virginia Tech
  • Ruth Luckasson, Chair, Department of Special Education, University of New Mexico College of Education
  • Andrew Sperling, Director, Legislative Affairs, Advocacy & Public Policy, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Kate Lang, Senior Staff Attorney, Justice in Aging
  • Kelly A. Thompson, Esq., Thompson Wildhack, PLC Attorneys at Law
  • Dari Pogach, Staff Attorney, American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging
  • Susanne Horn, MSW, Representative Payee Program Manager, Bread for the City
If you receive benefits for the SSA or manage payments for another person, you can play an instrumental part in shaping the future of the Representative Payment Program. If you would like to participate, please register here, hit the "CONTINUE" button to register. The forum is being held at 1100 New York Avenue NW, Suite 200 East, Washington, DC 20005; you can also take part via teleconference.

SSDI and SSI Attorney

If the SSA denied your application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), The Driscoll Law Corporation could help. Attorney Stephanie Merritt Driscoll can help you or a loved one appeal the SSA’s decision and get the benefits you require. Please contact our office today.