SSA Commissioner Imposes Another Hiring Freeze

Posted August 23, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has imposed a hiring freeze on its headquarters in Woodlawn, Md., and in regional offices, while generally exempting positions involving direct service to the public.

The freeze is one of the first actions by newly-confirmed SSA Commissioner Andrew Saul and reflects the approach that President Trump took in imposing a general government-wide freeze on taking office, a freeze that was lifted four months later.

“The Commissioner has stated that his highest priority and commitment would be to improve service to the public,” the agency said in a notice posted on an internal computer network. “His priorities include improving [the] 800 number, hearings, and field office wait times and modernizing our information technology as well as our disability policies. To ensure that agency resources are focused on these commitments, he implemented a hiring freeze on July 31, 2019.”

“Operations workload positions and their respective management and supervisory positions in the Teleservice Centers (TSC), Processing Centers (PC), Area and Field Offices, and State Disability Determination Services are exempt from the hiring freeze,” the notice said.

For the occupations affected, the freeze applies not only to filling vacancies but also to creating positions and extending existing temporary positions or assignments past their end date, among other actions.

Exceptions will be considered, though, and routine promotions, hardship reassignments and certain other career actions will be allowed. Offices are not to hire contractors for “services currently provided by SSA employees unless approved by the Office of Budget.”

Two unions representing SSA employees, the National Treasury Employees Union and the American Federation of Government Employees, said they are working to assess the potential impact. The NTEU represents employees of SSA’s Office of Hearings Operations, and the AFGE largely represents employees in processing centers, teleservice centers and field offices.

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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®

Low Income Health Care Resources

Posted August 16, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

We all know that health care is expensive. The Affordable Care Act has made care more affordable for many lower-income patients over the past three years through cost-sharing reductions and tax credits on the health insurance marketplaces and through Medicaid expansion. However, 18 states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, leaving many people in a coverage gap, and many others who are eligible for subsidies or Medicaid remain uninsured. At the same time, trends in job-sponsored coverage show that those with employer coverage are facing higher health care costs, often in the form of high deductibles.

Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provide free or low-cost health coverage to millions of Americans, including some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Some states have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover all people below certain income levels. You can apply for Medicaid any time of year — Medicaid and CHIP do not have Open Enrollment Periods. You can find out if you qualify and learn how to apply here:

Even if you do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, there may still be resources that can help you get the care that you need. Below are some links to help you find free or low-cost health care near you.

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®

Learning the Lingo of Social Security

Posted August 9, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

If you are applying for benefits from the Social Security Administration, chances are you are hearing or reading some unfamiliar terms and acronyms that can feel like a whole new language.

Social Security employees are supposed to explain benefits using easy-to-understand, plain language. But if a technical term or acronym that you don’t know slips into the conversation or appears in written material, you can easily find the meaning in Social Security’s online glossary (see link below).

Social Security acronyms function as verbal shorthand in financial planning and claim adjudication conversations. If you’re nearing retirement, you may want to know what PIA (primary insurance amount), FRA (full retirement age), and DRCs (delayed retirement credits) mean. If you’re applying for disability benefits, you may come across acronyms such as SGA (substantial gainful activity, UWA (unsuccessful work attempt), or RFC (residual functional capacity).

Knowing some of these terms can help you fine-tune your conversations about Social Security.  If one of those unknown terms or acronyms does come up in conversation, you can be the one to supply the definition using the online glossary. Sometimes learning the lingo can deepen your understanding of how Social Security works for you.

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

Social Security Glossary:

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®