Mar 31, 2020

Transmission of Fraudulent Robocalls Enjoined

     From a press release:
The Department of Justice announced that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entered orders in two separate civil actions barring eight individuals and entities from continuing to facilitate the transmission of massive volumes of fraudulent robocalls to consumers in the United States.  In one of the matters, United States v. Nicholas Palumbo, et al., the court entered a preliminary injunction that bars defendants Nicholas and Natasha Palumbo and two entities from operating as intermediate voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) carriers during the pendency of the civil action.  In the other matter, United States v. Jon Kahen, et al., the court entered consent decrees that permanently bar defendants Jon Kahen and three entities from operating as intermediate VoIP carriers conveying fraudulent robocalls into the U.S. telephone system. ...

Mar 30, 2020

More Covid-19 Scams

     From a press release from Social Security's Office of Inspector General:
Today, I am warning the public about fraudulent letters threatening suspension of Social Security benefits due to COVID-19 or coronavirus-related office closures. Social Security will not suspend or discontinue benefits because their offices are closed.
The Social Security Office of the Inspector General has received reports that Social Security beneficiaries have received letters through the U.S. Mail stating their payments will be suspended or discontinued unless they call a phone number referenced in the letter. Scammers may then mislead beneficiaries into providing personal information or payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, internet currency, or by mailing cash, to maintain regular benefit payments during this period of COVID-19 office closures. ...

Mar 29, 2020

Claimants Objecting To Health Risk Of CEs

     From the Buffalo News:
While safety concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic have closed government offices across the United States, the Social Security Administration is putting people in danger by directing them to a small Buffalo clinic for medical evaluations, five Buffalo-area attorneys said Friday. 
The Social Security Administration has continued to require applicants for disability benefits to be evaluated by doctors at the 699 Hertel Ave. clinic run by Industrial Medicine Associates, also known as IMA, the attorneys said. 
“I’ve had clients who have been told to go to this clinic and told that if they didn’t go, their applications for benefits could be negatively impacted,” said Richard G. Abbott, a Kenmore attorney who represents applicants for Social Security disability insurance. “Our president, our governor and county executive are telling people with underlying health issues to stay home. Social Security tells them to go to a place where they may be exposed to people who are sick. It’s outrageous.”

Mar 28, 2020

What To Do With That $300 Million?

     Why is it that I have this feeling that the Social Security Administration, under the leadership of Andrew Saul, will use little of the $300 million supplemental appropriation it just got on additional overtime so it can get its work done but will, instead, spend the money on IT contractors who may help the agency, at best, in the long run? Perhaps because I've noticed that Republican officeholders are enormously hostile towards the federal workforce and either indifferent or hostile towards the federal government providing services to the public. Perhaps because I've seen what has happened previously when Social Security got special appropriations when a Republican Administration was in power.

Mar 27, 2020

Some Info On Economic Stimulus And Social Security

     From a Senate Finance Committee staff summary of the economic stimulus bill just passed by the House of Representatives and which is only pending the President's signature:
Are individuals with little to no income or those on means-tested federal benefits, such as SSI, eligible for a recovery rebate? Yes, there is no qualifying income requirement. Even individuals with $0 of income are eligible for a rebate so long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer and have a work-eligible SSN.
Are seniors whose only income is from Social Security or a veteran whose only income is a veterans’ disability payment eligible? Yes, as long as they are not the dependent of another taxpayer. The bill also provides IRS with additional tools to locate and provide rebates to low-income seniors who normally do not file a tax return by allowing them to base a rebate on Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement or Form RRB-1099, which is the equivalent of the Social Security statement for Railroad Employees. However, seniors are still encouraged to file their 2019 tax return to ensure they receive their recovery rebate as quickly as possible. ...
I am eligible for a rebate, what do I have to do to receive it? For the vast majority of Americans, no action on their part will be required to receive a rebate check since the IRS will use a taxpayer’s 2019 tax return if filed or their 2018 return if they haven’t filed their 2019 return. This includes many individuals with very low income who file a tax return despite not owing any tax in order to take advantage of the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
What should I do if I did not file a tax return for 2019 or 2018? The best way to ensure you receive a recovery rebate is to file a 2019 tax return if you have not already done so. This could be accomplished for free online from home using the IRS Free file program (https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free).  ...
If I have a past due debt to a federal or state agency, or owe back taxes, will my rebate be reduced? No, the bill turns off nearly all administrative offsets that ordinarily may reduce tax refunds for individuals who have past tax debts, or who are behind on other payments to federal or state governments, including student loan payments. The only administrative offset that will be enforced applies to those who have past due child support payments that the states have reported to the Treasury Department.
     This is a bit confusing. It says that the payments can be made just based upon the SSA-1099 but goes on to encourage Social Security benefit recipients to file a tax return even if they don't really have to. Why? What about SSI recipients? They don't get SSA-1099s. Do they have to file tax returns even though they have zero income?