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CRS — Social Security: The Lump-Sum Death Benefit

July 25, 2014 Comments off

Social Security: The Lump-Sum Death Benefit (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

When a worker who is insured by Social Security and living with a spouse dies, the spouse is entitled to a lump-sum death benefit of $255. If there is no such spouse, the payment can be made to a surviving child who is receiving or is eligible to receive benefits based on the deceased person’s work. In the majority of deaths, however, no payment is made.

The death benefit used to be a more important part of Social Security, but the payment has been fixed at $255 for the past four decades, during which inflation has eroded its value. At the same time, the real value of other Social Security benefits has increased. Total federal spending on lump-sum death benefits is now about $200 million, only 0.03% of the total Social Security benefits.

Although the benefit was once linked to burial expenses and is sometimes still referred to as a “funeral benefit,” it no longer has any legal connection with funeral expenses.

Some proposals would have targeted the death benefit to those with the greatest need, increased the benefit, or eliminated it.

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New From the GAO

June 13, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Partnerships and S Corporations: IRS Needs to Improve Information to Address Tax Noncompliance. GAO-14-453, May 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-453
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/663184.pdf

2. Defense Health Care: TRICARE Dental Services Contracts’ Requirements and Structure. GAO-14-497, June 13.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-497
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/664091.pdf

Children’s Dental Care: Advice and Visits, Ages 2-17, 2011

April 28, 2014 Comments off

Children’s Dental Care: Advice and Visits, Ages 2-17, 2011
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

In 2011, 52.1 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 17 were offered advice from a doctor or other health provider about the need for routine dental checkups. In terms of actually receiving dental care, 50.5 percent of the children had at least one visit to the dentist during 2011.

Dental Care Coverage and Use: Modeling Limitations and Opportunities

January 17, 2014 Comments off

Dental Care Coverage and Use: Modeling Limitations and Opportunities (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Public Health

Objectives.
We examined why older US adults without dental care coverage and use would have lower use rates if offered coverage than do those who currently have coverage.

Methods.
We used data from the 2008 Health and Retirement Study to estimate a multinomial logistic model to analyze the influence of personal characteristics in the grouping of older US adults into those with and those without dental care coverage and dental care use.

Results.
Compared with persons with no coverage and no dental care use, users of dental care with coverage were more likely to be younger, female, wealthier, college graduates, married, in excellent or very good health, and not missing all their permanent teeth.

Conclusions.
Providing dental care coverage to uninsured older US adults without use will not necessarily result in use rates similar to those with prior coverage and use. We have offered a model using modifiable factors that may help policy planners facilitate programs to increase dental care coverage uptake and use.

New From the GAO

September 12, 2013 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. Information Technology: Key Federal Agencies Need to Address Potentially Duplicative Investments. GAO-13-718, September 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-718
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657791.pdf

2. Patriot Express: SBA Should Evaluate the Program and Enhance Eligibility Controls. GAO-13-727, September 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-727
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657794.pdf

3. Dental Services: Information on Coverage, Payments, and Fee Variation. GAO-13-754, September 6.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-754
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657455.pdf
Podcast: http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/657664

4. Federal Data Transparency: Opportunities Remain to Incorporate Lessons Learned as Availability of Spending Data Increases. GAO-13-758, September 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-758
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657828.pdf

5. Sex Offenders: ICE Could Better Inform Offenders It Supervises of Registration Responsibilities and Notify Jurisdictions when Offenders Are Removed. GAO-13-832, September 12.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-832
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/657816.pdf

Oral Health Literacy – Workshop Summary

March 7, 2013 Comments off

Oral Health Literacy – Workshop Summary

Source: Institute of Medicine

Oral health and oral health literacy are of national interest as demonstrated in the recommendations of two recent IOM reports – Advancing Oral Health in America and Improving Access to Oral Health Care for Vulnerable and Underserved Populations – as well as in the objectives of the HHS Healthy People 2020. Limited oral health literacy is associated with inaccurate knowledge about preventive measures such as water fluoridation, dental care visits, and oral health-related quality of life. The public and health care providers are largely unaware of the basic risk factors and preventive regimens for many oral diseases. Oral disease is expensive in terms of teeth, time, and money and results in pain, disfigurement, loss of school and work days, and even death when left untreated.

The IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy was interested in exploring findings from oral health literacy research and how such findings are being translated into oral health practice as well as the intersection between oral health literacy and health literacy. The roundtable held a workshop on March 29, 2012, to examine the field of oral health literacy. This document summarizes the workshop.

Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth

January 18, 2013 Comments off

Human Life History Evolution Explains Dissociation between the Timing of Tooth Eruption and Peak Rates of Root Growth

Source: PLoS ONE

We explored the relationship between growth in tooth root length and the modern human extended period of childhood. Tooth roots provide support to counter chewing forces and so it is advantageous to grow roots quickly to allow teeth to erupt into function as early as possible. Growth in tooth root length occurs with a characteristic spurt or peak in rate sometime between tooth crown completion and root apex closure. Here we show that in Pan troglodytes the peak in root growth rate coincides with the period of time teeth are erupting into function. However, the timing of peak root velocity in modern humans occurs earlier than expected and coincides better with estimates for tooth eruption times in Homo erectus. With more time to grow longer roots prior to eruption and smaller teeth that now require less support at the time they come into function, the root growth spurt no longer confers any advantage in modern humans. We suggest that a prolonged life history schedule eventually neutralised this adaptation some time after the appearance of Homo erectus. The root spurt persists in modern humans as an intrinsic marker event that shows selection operated, not primarily on tooth tissue growth, but on the process of tooth eruption. This demonstrates the overarching influence of life history evolution on several aspects of dental development. These new insights into tooth root growth now provide an additional line of enquiry that may contribute to future studies of more recent life history and dietary adaptations within the genus Homo.

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