Posts in:October, 2020

Social Security Seemed Like a Future Problem – The Virus Changed That

Posted October 30, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security has always seemed like a future problem, with experts long predicting a benefits squeeze in the decades ahead. But the coronavirus has put tens of millions of Americans out of work, and economists are predicting that the recovery will take years. That means the future is now.

If nothing is done to shore up the program, all benefit checks would need to be cut by roughly one-quarter in perhaps 11 years — or, if the recession is protracted and severe, maybe even sooner.

“We thought we had more than a decade, and now it could be less than a decade,” said Kathleen Romig, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “That makes a big difference both psychologically and in policy terms.”

The pandemic has hastened the cash crunch’s arrival by wiping out jobs and the payroll taxes — Social Security’s dedicated source of revenue — that they provide. Fewer people are paying into the retirement trust fund, and the longer they’re out of work, the deeper the problem becomes. (Even more pressing may be a fix for Social Security’s disability program, which has a trust fund of its own. A report issued by the Congressional Budget Office last month projects that fund could be exhausted in 2026.)

Despite such grim projections, Social Security hasn’t received a lot of attention during the presidential campaign, given everything else going on. But whoever wins next week will have little choice but to stretch out his hand toward the third rail of politics. And both candidates have offered ideas that could significantly shift how Social Security works.

President Trump hasn’t released a proposal, but he has said he wants to eliminate the payroll tax — Social Security’s lifeblood — as an expansion of the temporary holiday enacted by executive action over the summer. (Few companies have stopped collecting the tax, which would have to be repaid in 2021.)

Policy experts are highly skeptical that the payroll tax could be eliminated; it would require congressional action and be politically difficult. But if it happened, Social Security would have to compete for funding in a way it hasn’t before.

Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, has released a proposal that’s more moderate than many offered by his party’s progressive wing. But it would nonetheless make fundamental changes.

Just about every American has something at stake, or someone close who does: Roughly 178 million workers contribute to the program, and, this year, an estimated 45.8 million retirees will receive nearly $70 billion in benefits — the average monthly check is about $1,500 per month, according to the Social Security Administration.

Full article:

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

What is a Cooperative Disability Investigation?

Posted October 23, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

In the late 1990s, different government agencies joined forces to start the Cooperative Disability Investigations (CDI) Program. The program is a joint initiative by the Social Security Administration and the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). These agencies work with State Disability and Determination Services (DDS) offices and local law enforcement offices to investigate suspicious Social Security claims that they think might be fraudulent.

Disability fraud includes claiming to be disabled when no disability exists, filing multiple disability applications, and lying about disabilities, work, or other activities on a disability application.

Generally, a CDI may occur as follows:

  • A fraud referral is made to the appropriate CDI unit. DDS or the Social Security Administration usually makes the referral. However, a referral may also be made by the Social Security Administration’s Office of Hearing Operations, a law enforcement agency, a private citizen, or an anonymous source.
  • The CDI Unit investigates. The CDI Unit consists of a Special Agent from OIG who serves as team leader. The other members of the team include state DDS employees, a Social Security Administration employee, and state or local law enforcement officers. The investigation may include a thorough review of your educational, work, and medical records, video surveillance of you whenever you leave your home, and third-party interviews.
  • The CDI Unit issues a report. The detailed report explains the investigation and the unit’s findings. It is sent to the state DDS office for review.
  • DDS decides if fraud occurred and whether the applicant should get disability benefits. DDS decides whether the applicant should start or continue receiving benefits. If the person is already receiving disability benefits, then DDS may stop payments. In some cases, the case may be referred to the government for criminal prosecution.

The OIG estimates that from the time the program began in 1997 through May 2020, the CDI Program saved the country approximately $4.2 billion in Social Security disability payments. Additionally, the CDI Program saved an estimated $3.2 billion in non-Social Security government benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps.

Since a CDI could result in a report that prevents you from receiving Social Security disability benefits, it is important to understand your rights as a claimant if you are the subject of an investigation. Specifically, you have the right to:

  • Review the Report of Investigation. The report is part of your claims file, and as a disability claimant, you have the right to access your file.
  • Challenge the significance of evidence included in the Report of Investigation. You may, for example, present contradictory witnesses or provide evidence that the events described in the report are isolated occurrences that do not accurately reflect your condition.

In many cases, the goal of the investigation was to prove that you should not get disability benefits, and you should examine everything in the report with that premise in mind.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security Announces 2021 Cost of Living Adjustment of 1.3%

Posted October 16, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.

The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail starting in early December about their new benefit amount. Most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their personal my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at

Information about Medicare changes for 2021, when announced, will be available at For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2021 are announced. Final 2021 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit You may also follow this link to find a fact sheet detailing various other automatic adjustments: