Social Security Trustee Report Shows Signs of Improvement – With One Major Caveat

Posted April 24, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Social Security is fully funded for the next 15 years, and it’s mostly covered for the next 25 and 50 years too, according to the program’s trustees report released on Wednesday.

The Social Security Board of Trustees issue a report every year on the financial health of the program’s two trust funds that support benefits to retired, survivor and disabled beneficiaries. Last year, the trustees expected the reserves in those two funds would run out by 2035, a one-year delay from the year before. The report on Wednesday shows that expectation remains the same. (Social Security is supported by two trust funds — when they run out of money, the program will rely mainly on revenue from payroll taxes).

The program will be 91% funded for the next 25 years, 85% funded for the next 50 years and 82% funded for the next 75 years, according to the report. The figures are based on the two trust funds combined, although each is earmarked for specific purposes: one for the Old-Age & Survivors Insurance and one for Disability Insurance. Individually, the trustees project the reserves for OASI funds will be depleted in 2034 and the DI funds will be depleted in 2065.

Medicare’s trust fund for hospital care will be fully funded until 2026, an estimate that remains unchanged from the year before.

But there’s one major caveat in the 2020 report: it won’t account for the impact COVID-19 will have on the program.

In the near term, the agency has run business as usual. The coronavirus hasn’t deterred the Social Security Administration from sending out payments to current beneficiaries. The agency is still distributing benefits via direct deposit and mail during the pandemic, the Social Security Administration’s commissioner said in a statement earlier this year. Americans who claim Supplemental Security Income payments will also continue to receive their checks.

But the health crisis may negatively affect the program’s future stability. The long-term actuarial status of the trust funds depends on numerous factors, including fertility and mortality rates, immigration and disability, as well as the consumer-price index and wages. The coronavirus has the potential to jolt all of these factors.

The good news: Although COVID-19 may hurt Social Security, it won’t destroy it — the effects of the virus may not even make a huge dent in the projections. The estimate for the depletion of the trust funds may come sooner, but likely only by a year or so, said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, which advocates for the expansion of the program. The shortfall in money needed versus had to pay out benefits might worsen, but only slightly, she added. “Even with what’s going on in the economy now, with such a large reserve the benefits will keep being paid and continued through the 2030s,” she said.

The trustees report gathers data over the last year, which means we won’t see the impact of the coronavirus on the program’s health until the report in 2021, said Dan Adcock, director of government relations and policy at the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.

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

Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-new-social-security-trustee-report-may-show-signs-of-improvement-with-one-major-caveat-2020-04-22

View trustee reports here: https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TR/

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Does Smoking Affect my Disability Claim?

Posted April 17, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

We all know that smoking is bad for you. However, there are also many ways that smoking can adversely affect your claim for disability benefits. Consider, for example, that:

  1. If you have COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, or any other lung impairment, and you consistently have trouble breathing, smoking will only make those impairments worse.  For instance, if you need to be on supplemental or home oxygen, it is dangerous to smoke near oxygen. By continuing to smoke, you put your life in danger, as well as the life of anyone in the vicinity. Also, if you tell the judge you cannot breathe, have trouble breathing, or are constantly short of breath, the judge may not believe it is really that bad if you are continuing to smoke.
  2. Your heart is directly affected by your lung health. If you have heart problems, you definitely should not be smoking. Both organs are compromised when you smoke. The nicotine in cigarettes constricts blood vessels, making it harder for your body to pump blood and get it into the bones and muscles that need it. This puts additional stress on your heart, organs, and tissues.
  3. Smoking can impair healing.  If you have an orthopedic impairment, it can be harder for your body to heal if you smoke. For example, if you have back surgery and continue to smoke, your healing is slowed because the capillaries are constricted and the bones and muscles cannot properly heal if the blood cannot be circulated through the damaged area at an optimal rate.
  4. Your claim may be denied if smoking caused your disability. In other words, if your smoking is a material reason why you developed your disabling condition, your application for benefits may be denied. For example, if you are a lifetime smoker who is claiming Social Security disability because of emphysema, you may not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
  5. Finally, a reason that many people do not think of and do not realize until told: If you tell the judge that you cannot fill your prescriptions or go to the doctor because you cannot afford it, yet you smoke a pack or two per day, you have basically just told the judge that smoking is more important to you than medical care or your health. An average pack of cigarettes costs more than $8 in Minnesota. If you smoke a pack per day, you are spending almost $250 per month on cigarettes. If the judge does the math on that, he or she may assume that your health is not as bad as you say it is because otherwise you would spend that money on medications and/or doctor’s appointments.

If you are suffering from a disabling impairment and believe that you are unable to work because of that impairment, PLEASE STOP SMOKING.  Your health and your disability claim will fare better if you do. You may also contact us for a free evaluation of your claim.

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®

 

April is National Minority Health Month

Posted April 10, 2020 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

With the nation advised to stay in and around their homes, this National Minority Health Month the Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will highlight the theme Active & Healthy and focus on safe ways all communities can stay physically active and advance mental and emotional wellness.

“Join us throughout April as we encourage everyone to take simple and creative steps to stay active and support physical, mental and emotional wellness. This year, we invite everyone to join #ActiveandHealthy, a national social media campaign that will focus on the steps the nation can take every day in and around the home to keep our minds and bodies active, consistent with the social distancing guidelines to stop the spread of COVID-19. Daily themes will highlight simple steps people can take to maintain and sustain an active and healthy lifestyle while reducing stress and anxiety.”

#ActiveandHealthy will promote and share the steps we can take each day to stay active and healthy during #NMHM2020 and throughout the year. The campaign will include creative ways to keep older adults and children safe and physically engaged, along with ideas to stay connected with friends, family and communities.

Remember—becoming active and healthy in and around your home to stay physically and mentally well, while doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19, is possible through simple changes to your daily routine—so get involved this #NMHM2020.

See more here: https://www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov/nmhm/index.html

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®