Feb 2, 2015

A First Look At The President's Budget

From the President's Budget for FY 2016:
... Equalizing Social Security Benefits for Same-Sex Married Couples. The Budget proposes to amend the Social Security Act to ensure all lawfully married same-sex couples will be eli - gible to receive Social Security spousal benefits, regardless of where they live. Currently, if a legally married same-sex couple lives in a State that does not recognize the marriage, these Social Security benefits are unavailable under Federal law. This means that for a couple that marries in one State where same-sex marriage is recognized and then moves to another State where it is not, the protection that Social Security spousal ben - efits provides to families is unavailable. Under this proposal, such married couples would have access to these benefits. ...
To address reserve depletion of the Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund, the Budget proposes to reallocate existing payroll tax collections between the Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) and DI trust funds while a longer-term solution to overall Social Security solvency is developed with the Congress. ...
The Budget also includes initiatives to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce. It builds on the bipartisan support for these ef forts in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, by providing new authority and $400 million in new resources for the Social Security Administration (SSA), in partnership with other Federal agencies, to test innovative strategies to help people with disabilities remain in the workforce. The cost would be offset by a proposal to better coordinate DI and Federal retroactive dis - ability payments between SSA and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM.) Early-intervention measures, such as supportive employment services for individuals with mental impairments, targeted incentives for employers to help workers with disabilities remain on the job, and incentives and opportunities for States to better coordinate services, have the potential to achieve long-term gains in the employment and the quality of life of people with disabilities, and the proposed demonstrations will help build the evidence base for future program improvements.
To address increasing wait times for a disability appeal decision, the Budget proposes to increase the hiring of Administrative Law Judges (ALJ). SSA’s workloads continue to increase as the baby boom generation enters its most disability-prone years. The average wait time for a disability decision before an ALJ reached a record high of 18.5 months in August 2008. SSA was able to reduce the wait time down to a 10-year low of 12 months in 2011 and 2012, but due to funding constraints, the wait time has begun to grow again and is anticipated to rise above 16 months in 2015. Currently there are over one million people waiting for a disability appeals hearing decision from an ALJ. The Budget commits increased resources to hire more ALJs. But resources alone will not be enough. The process for hiring SSA ALJs has not operated efficiently as is needed to fill vacancies even when funding is available. Therefore, the Administration is creating a workgroup led by the Administrative Conference of the United States and OPM, along with SSA, DOJ, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review the process of hiring ALJs and recommend ways to eliminate roadblocks, which may include proposing administrative reforms or legislative changes.
To continue to strengthen the integrity and accuracy of Social Security, the Budget proposes to establish a dependable source of mandatory funding in 2017 for Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) and Supplemental Security Income Redeterminations, which ensure that only those eligible for benefits continue to receive them. SSA estimates that each $1 spent on CDRs would save the Federal Government $9. This proposal, THE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2016 43 together with discretionary funding proposed for 2016, could produce net savings of $32 billion over 10 years and reduce the current backlog of 906,000 overdue CDRs.

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