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How Does the Stimulus Package and New Budget Affect Social Security?

With a slew of new events going on in Washington it may be difficult to keep up with how new financial plans are affecting the world of Social Security. Two specific documents that are catalyst for this change are the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the Stimulus Package, and the 2010 fiscal year budget. Each provides some kind of proposed financial assistance or boost in funding to the Social Security Administration (SSA), but what will it mean for the future?

Stimulus Package
Total Amount to the SSA:
$1 Billion

Breakdown of funds:
$500 Million to build a National Computer Center
$500 Million to assist in processing of workloads.

What does this mean?

In a previous newsletter we talked about four reasons that Social Security disability claims may be taking so long. This specific part of the Act, in theory, will help relieve some of the backlogs, but that means the hiring and training of new staff. Over time, these new hires may become very familiar with the process, but at the beginning many mistakes could be made due to inexperience. Even someone who has an “air tight claim” may still have their claim denied due to the fact that the people handling the case are not familiar with the processes involved.

The same can be said of the building of a National Computer Center. Anyone who has moved from one house to another or from one office building to another can attest to the hectic times that follow after the move. Again someone can be denied due to simple errors associated with the transition of information. If denied, obtaining an attorney that specializes in Social Security and can cut through the red tape and greatly improve a claimant’s chance of winning an appeal.

2010 Fiscal Year Budget
Highlights of Budget:
• Provides 11.6 billion (10% increase) for the Social Security Administration

The increase, much like the $500 million in the Stimulus Package, is targeted at providing relief to the backlogs already in the SSA by staffing new employees. The budget reads, “This amount includes resources to ensure increased staffing in 2010 and will allow SSA, to increase the level of work processed in key service delivery areas to the American public, such as processing initial retirement and disability claims, and disability appeals.”

One thing is clear from both of these financial documents. The Social Security Administration is augmenting their efforts to process claims. With the hiring of new staff and the transition of information in the near future, claimants who are initially declined can make sure their case was not one that fell through the cracks by hiring an attorney who is well versed on the laws of Social Security.

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