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Apr 23, 2014

An Alternative To Using A Freezer

     From Texas News:
Police have identified mummified remains of a man found in a Lexington storage unit and the man's daughter has been charged with stealing his Social Security checks.
Now, federal authorities are searching for the indicted woman's mother, who was last seen in March.
Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the remains found in the Econo-Self Storage unit in January are those of Luther Broughton. His daughter, Judith Maria Broughton, stands accused in Texas of stealing more than $150,000 of her father's Social Security retirement benefits.
     Concealing the death of a relative in order to continue receiving their Social Security benefits isn't common. I'm sure it happens in less than one in a million deaths but there are enough people dying that there are regular reports of this sort of thing. Bodies in the freezer, bodies buried in the back yard, bodies that are never found -- all of these happen. I don't recall one in a storage unit before but I wouldn't be surprised if it's happened before.

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  • Apr 22, 2014

    Things Keep Looking Better For The Disability Trust Fund

         The numbers are in to show how Social Security's Disability Insurance Trust Fund did during the first quarter of calendar year 2014. The Fund's balance declined from $90.445 billion to $84.057 billion during that time period, a reduction of $6.388 billion. That looks bad, like the Disability Trust Fund is rapidly heading towards zero. The Disability Trust Fund may become exhausted without some change but things are actually improving. The reduction in the first quarter of calendar year 2013 was $7.944 billion. Last year's intermediate projection of Social Security's Chief Actuary was that the rate of reduction in the Disability Trust Fund would be almost exactly the same in calendar year 2014 as in calendar year 2013. That meats that so far this year the Disability Trust Fund is doing significantly better than was expected. This is on top of the fact that the Disability Trust Fund also did better for the full calendar year of 2013 than was projected.
         Yes, the Disability Trust Fund is still heading towards exhaustion but more slowly than was forecast last year. Last year, the Chief Actuary projected that the Disability Trust Fund would be exhausted in late 2016. With each passing month it becomes clearer that the Disability Trust Fund won't be exhausted until at least 2017. If you don't think there's a huge difference between 2016 and 2017, you don't follow politics. Also, it's looking clearer that any shortfall in the Disability Trust Fund will be a short term matter that can be easily bridged by a reallocation of FICA revenues or by allowing interfund borrowing. These have both been done in the past. It's getting harder each month to argue that dramatic changes are needed in Social Security disability benefits.

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  • Apr 21, 2014

    Headcount Continues To Decline

         The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has posted updated figures for the number of employees at the Social Security Administration.
    • December 2013 61,957
    • September 2013 62,543
    • June 2013 62,877
    • March 2013 63,777
    • December 2012 64,538
    • September 2012 65,113
    • September 2011 67,136
    • December 2010 70,270
    • December 2009 67,486
    • September 2009 67,632
    • December 2008 63,733
    • September 2008 63,990
    • September 2007 62,407
    • September 2006 63,647
    • September 2005 66,147
    • September 2004 65,258
    • September 2003 64,903
    • September 2002 64,648
    • September 2001 65,377
    • September 2000 64,521

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  • Apr 20, 2014

    Happy Easter!


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  • Benefit Statements Coming Back -- At Five Year Intervals

         From Reuters:
    Paper Social Security benefits statements, which used to be mailed out every year and then fell victim to budget cuts, are going to make a partial comeback.Starting this September, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume mailings at five-year intervals to workers who have not signed up to view their statements online, an agency spokesman told Reuters. The statements will be sent to workers at ages 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55 and 60, he said, adding the agency would continue to promote use of the online statements.

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  • Apr 19, 2014

    Forensic Genealogists And Social Security

         Dee Dee King writes in Forensic Genealogy News about the new process to become certified to access Social Security's Death Master File. Who knew there were forensic genealogists?

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  • Apr 18, 2014

    A Little Weird

         Let me tell you something a little weird about this blog. It gets some surprising hits from outside the U.S. I'm sure that some of these hits come from people who are genuinely interested in U.S. Social Security. I'm sure that some of these hits come from people who were looking for information about another country's Social Security system. However, Google Analytics tells me that many of the hits from other countries come from people who did a search for "resignation letter." Long time readers can attest that the subject of resignation letters has not been a major focus of this blog. The term "resignation letter" has come up in only four posts out of 6,367 in the history of this blog! 
         Don't ask me why a search engine would direct people seeking information on resignation letters would funnel traffic this way or why that would only be the case for those making this request who live outside the U.S. I have no idea.
         I think there's an opportunity here. People in other countries want to find examples of resignation letters. They'll seek out your website if you provide them.

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  • Apr 17, 2014

    Social Security Ends Letter Forwarding Service

         From today's Federal Register:
    
    
    Letter Forwarding is a service we provided to the public since 1945. It is not a program related activity under the Social Security Act (Act). Therefore, we will stop the letter forwarding service. ... 
     DATES: The cessation date for letter forwarding services is May 19, 2014. ...
    We provided the letter forwarding service to the public since 1945. ... 
    SSA processes the following types of letter forwarding requests (free and for a fee). 
    • Humanitarian (free)--when the health or welfare of an individual is at risk and the requestor provides a compelling reason to show the person would want to be aware of the circumstances. In addition, when an immediate family member (e.g., parent, sibling) is seeking to re-establish contact with another immediate family member. 
    • Monetary purpose (fee $35 in fiscal year (FY) 2013)-- situations in which the individual sought is due something of value, and it is reasonable to assume that he or she is not aware that the asset is due.
         Reading this makes me sad. Yes, letter forwarding has been a very ancillary service but a damned important one to the people being served. This is one of many signs that the Social Security Administration lacks the funding needed to carry out its work in the humane way that the public deserves.

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  • We've Hit A Plateau

         TheWall Street Journal is noticing that disability claims have hit a plateau. They still don't want to acknowledge that the aging of the baby boom generation had anything to do with the boom in disability claims. It had to have been the economy or fraud or anything other than simple demographics. But it was almost completely demographics and predictable fifty years ago. The WSJ is also now acknowledging that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund may not run out of money in 2016.

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