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CBO’s 2014 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information

December 19, 2014 Comments off

CBO’s 2014 Long-Term Projections for Social Security: Additional Information
Source: Congressional Budget office

Social Security is the federal government’s largest single program. Of the 59 million people who currently receive Social Security benefits, about 71 percent are retired workers or their spouses and children, and another 10 percent are survivors of deceased workers; all of those beneficiaries receive payments through Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI). The other 19 percent of beneficiaries are disabled workers or their spouses and children; they receive Disability Insurance (DI) benefits.

In fiscal year 2014, spending for Social Security benefits totaled $840 billion, or almost one-quarter of federal spending; OASI payments accounted for about 83 percent of those outlays, and DI payments made up about 17 percent. Each year, CBO prepares long-term projections of revenues and outlays for the program. The most recent set of 75-year projections was published in July 2014. Those projections generally reflect current law, following CBO’s 10-year baseline budget projections through 2024 and then extending the baseline concept for the rest of the long-term projection period. This publication presents additional information about those projections.

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Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments

December 19, 2014 Comments off

Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments
Source: Center for State & Local Government Excellence

Key findings:

  • Workers who work a full career in their city or county can expect a retirement income of between 45 and 80 percent of their pre-retirement income.
  • Career employees of local governments who participate in Social Security can expect retirement income replacement rates of 20 to 30 percentage points higher than employees whose governments do not participate in Social Security.
  • These and other variations mean that many local workers will need to be disciplined about participating in savings plans, outside of their primary plans, to meet their retirement security goals.

Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Misplaced Priorities: How the Social Security Administration Sacrificed Quality for Quality in the Disability Determination Process
Source: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Key Findings:

  • All of the 48 ALJ focused reviews conducted by SSA and reviewed by Committee staff showed numerous deficiencies in ALJ decision-making and several disturbing patterns. ALJs conducted few or inadequate hearings, misused vocational experts, failed to properly assess work ability and relied too heavily on medical briefs prepared by claimants’ paid representatives. (p. 13)
  • SSA continues to allow ALJs to decide cases even when they demonstrate gross incompetence or negligence in handling their responsibilities. In several cases, SSA did not inform the ALJ about the negative focused review for over eight months after the review was completed. (p. 28)
  • SSA was singularly focused on churning out a large volume of dispositions, which led to inappropriate benefit awards. In 2007, the agency directed ALJs to decide 500 to 700 decisions each year, without conducting any study to determine how long it takes ALJs to evaluate cases and issue informed decisions.
  • SSA encouraged ALJs to take shortcuts in deciding cases to increase the amount of decisions issued each year. The agency promoted on-the-record decisions, which do not require a hearing, and bench decisions, which do not require a written opinion, to increase the number of decisions issued.

New From the GAO

December 11, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office

Reports

1. Immigration Benefits: Improvements Needed to Fully Implement the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act. GAO-15-3, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-3
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667396.pdf

2. SSA Disability Benefits: Enhanced Policies and Management Focus Needed to Address Potential Physician-Assisted Fraud. GAO-15-19, November 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-19
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/666831.pdf

3. Information Technology: HUD Can Take Additional Actions to Improve Its Governance. GAO-15-56, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-56
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667359.pdf

4. Transportation for Older Adults: Measuring Results Could Help Determine If Coordination Efforts Improve Mobility. GAO-15-158, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-158
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667376.pdf

5. Public Transit: Federal and Transit Agencies Taking Steps to Build Transit Systems’ Resilience but Face Challenges. GAO-15-159, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-159
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667394.pdf

Testimonies

1. NASA: Human Space Exploration Programs Face Challenges, by Cristina T. Chaplain, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Space, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. GAO-15-248T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-248T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667351.pdf

2. Unmanned Aerial Systems: Efforts Made toward Integration into the National Airspace Continue, but Many Actions Still Required, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the Subcommittee on Aviation, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-15-254T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-254T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667398.pdf

3. Federal Retirement Processing: Applying Information Technology Acquisition Best Practices Could Help OPM Overcome a Long History of Unsuccessful Modernization Efforts, by Valerie C. Melvin, director, information management and technology resources issues, before the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service, and the Census, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-15-277T, December 10.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-277T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667372.pdf

Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments

November 21, 2014 Comments off

Retirement Benefit Decisions by City and County Governments
Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence

Key findings:

  • Workers who work a full career in their city or county can expect a retirement income of between 45 and 80 percent of their pre-retirement income.
  • Career employees of local governments who participate in Social Security can expect retirement income replacement rates of 20 to 30 percentage points higher than employees whose governments do not participate in Social Security.
  • These and other variations mean that many local workers will need to be disciplined about participating in savings plans, outside of their primary plans, to meet their retirement security goals.

Social Security — OASDI Beneficiaries by State and ZIP Code, 2013

November 7, 2014 Comments off

Social Security — OASDI Beneficiaries by State and ZIP Code, 2013
Source: Social Security Administration

This annual publication focuses on the Social Security beneficiary population at the ZIP Code level. It presents basic program data on the number and type of beneficiaries and the amount of benefits paid in each state, Social Security Administration field office, and ZIP Code. It also shows the number of beneficiaries aged 65 or older.

Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 4 (released November 2014)

November 6, 2014 Comments off

Social Security Bulletin, Vol. 74, No. 4
Source: Social Security Administration

How Effective Is the Social Security Statement? Informing Younger Workers about Social Security
by Barbara A. Smith and Kenneth A. Couch
The Social Security Administration began mailing annual earnings and benefit statements to workers aged 60 or older in 1995, and increased its mailings to include workers in younger age groups in succeeding years. In 1998, the agency commissioned the Gallup Organization to evaluate the effects of these statements on the public’s knowledge of Social Security programs and benefits. This article briefly describes the development and implementation of the Social Security Statement; discusses the Gallup surveys conducted in 1998 and 2001; and uses data from those surveys to compare, for workers aged 46 or younger, knowledge about Social Security before and after receipt of the Social Security Statement.

Incentivizing Delayed Claiming of Social Security Retirement Benefits Before Reaching the Full Retirement Age
by Melissa A. Z. Knoll and Anya Olsen
Claiming Social Security retirement benefits before the full retirement age (FRA) results in permanently lower benefits, while delaying claiming permanently increases benefits. This article uses Modeling Income in the Near Term data to determine the socioeconomic characteristics of individuals who claim at various ages. The authors then describe a number of novel approaches aimed at encouraging individuals to delay claiming in the months and years before reaching their FRA. Lastly, the authors model one of those approaches to examine how a 1-year delay in claiming affects benefits and poverty in the future.
Improving Access to Benefits for Persons with Disabilities Who Were Experiencing Homelessness: An Evaluation of the Benefits Entitlement Services Team

Demonstration Project
by Elizabeth Kennedy and Laura King
This study uses administrative data to evaluate the outcomes of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance (DI) applications submitted through the Benefits Entitlement Services Team (B.E.S.T) project, an initiative funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services to help individuals experiencing homelessness apply for SSI payments and/or DI benefits. The authors discuss the allowance rates and processing times for B.E.S.T applications, the combination of internal and external methods that supported the B.E.S.T application process, and the characteristics of B.E.S.T applications that increased the likelihood of an allowance.

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