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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 States that Rely on Social Security Benefits the Most

Ever since, millions of Americans rely on social security benefits for a living. In fact, in some states, it turns out that a greater proportion of their populations are depended on social security benefits to supplement their daily incomes.

Each year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides statistics about where it recipient live. Here are the five states with the highest percentage of population that rely on Social Security benefits such as retirement benefits, survivors and disability insurance under Social Security as of 2012.

West Virginia 

About 24.6 percent of West Virginia’s population relies on social security benefits. Apparently, almost a quarter of its 1.86 million populations receive social security benefits. It is not yet clear whether or not the increased number of recipients has something to do with the controversy linked to a retired Social Security administrative judge. Allegedly, the retired administrative judge collaborated with a lawyer to grant improper disability benefits to more than 1,800 disability claimants from 2006 to 2010.


At least 23.7 percent of Maine’s residents receive the federal benefits. Not far different from West Virginia, Maine has almost a quarter of its 1.33 million residents who collect social security benefits. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities saw a significant increase in the state’s senior poverty rate. From eight percent, the state’s senior citizen poverty rate has increased by 36 percent. A recent study revealed that proposals to modify the way cost-of-living increases are calculated could absolutely impact Maine’s Social Security recipients. 


Approximately 22.3 percent of Arkansas’ fairly small population depends of social security. So far, social security has become a big issue as the state’s senate race approaches. Recent news have it that current Sen. Mark Pryor is accusing his rival and current House Representative, Tom Cotton, of voting to cut Social Security earlier this year. Incidentally, social security is very important to its residents since the rise in full retirement age in the state is currently in full swing.


Almost being similar to Arkansas, the state of Alabama has 22 percent of its 700,000 residents rely on social security. The state was likewise dragged into controversy recently after an employee at the Washington County Sherriff’s office faced allegations of federal benefit fraud. As previously reported, the employee admitted to having understated earnings on social security forms so that he could maximize the amount of benefits he could receive at the same time. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t have an exclusive control on fraud over Social Security benefits. Thus, frauds have become an increasingly huge threat in the past few years.


Around 21.7 percent of Vermont’s 626,000 residents rely on social security. Most probably, the state’s independent member of Congress and biggest proponent of social security, Sen. Bernie Sanders, is a big factor that influence the enormously successful way of cutting senior citizen poverty rate in the state.

“Surprisingly, California, which houses Los Angeles, is not included on the list,” commented by a SSI lawyer.

Keep in mind that for any changes that are likely to occur in social security benefits, the said states could be the first one to be hurt the most. Thus, we encourage lawmakers to always put into consideration the nation’s most vulnerable citizens, the seniors, in whatever decision they have to make. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Food Stamp Cuts Devalues Recent Social Security Benefit Increase

Although many of the Social Security Benefit recipients were delighted with the recent increase in Cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA), some of them remain mum as the food stamp cut devalues the recent benefit raise.

Last month, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has officially announced that the automatic annual COLA increase for 2014 will be 1.5 percent. The said raise is supposedly enough for the increasing consumer prices.

However, just a few weeks following the federal benefit increase announcement, the food stamp cut has already begun to take effect.

This is some sort of a bit of bad news for the households that receive both social security benefits and food stamps at the same time. As the benefit increase take into effect by January 1, those who receive $1,000 in social security benefit and $228 in food stamps will receive a additional $15 in social security benefits while their food stamp have already went down by $20.

Obviously, the higher cut in food stamp makes the federal benefit increase worthless.

Based on recent statistics, about 17 percent or roughly 18 million Americans who rely in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program receive Social Security income.

The national food stamp came in light after the 13.6 percent benefit increase contained in the 2009 stimulus bill had expired. Previous reports have it that the said raise wasn’t supposed to expire if the Congressional Democrats did not use the allocated money to pay for other spending priorities in 2010. Although, they pledged to replace the funds, their promises were later proved futile.

Meanwhile, several financial experts warned against the people’s common perception that the Social Security’s automatic annual cost-of-living adjustment is an increase in benefits.

"The COLA isn't a real increase, it's just an increase to keep the benefit up to date with inflation, whereas the cut that's taking place in SNAP benefits is actually a cut in real terms," said Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal Washington-based think tank.

Subsequently, in Los Angeles wherein a lot of retirees and disabled Americans rely on social security, many social security claim lawyers likewise believe the same.

“This year’s benefit raise is actually one of the lowest adjustments in decades mainly because the consumer prices in previous years haven’t gone up much,” claimed by a lawyer herein.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

SSA Finally Announces Social Security Benefit Increase for 2014

Image gives credit to © BRADLEY C BOWER/AP/Corbis.
After various rumors and speculations regarding the automatic social security benefit increase for next year, the Social Security Administration has finally announced the exact amount of the said federal benefit in its official web page.

In its press release, the agency has confirmed that the automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) increase in 2014 will be 1.5 percent. 

By January 2014, approximately 57 million Social Security Benefit recipients will start enjoying the raise while some 8 million Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will start to receive the increased payments by December 31, 2013, the agency announced. 

The annual automatic increase was adopted long ago for the purpose of keeping up the recipient’s income with the constantly increasing consumer prices.

Moreover, the agency also noted that some other changes that will take effect in January every year are based on the increase in average wages.

Just before the agency officially announced the exact amount of the automatic annual increase, many analyst and economist here in Los Angeles speculated that the increase is likely to be only 1.5 percent. In fact, this is one of the lowest in the previous decades.

“Apparently, analysts have got it right. This is most probably due to the fact that consumer prices haven’t gone up much this year and the recent years as monitored by the federal government,” said by a long term disability lawyer.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

How Social Security Increase Should Be Estimated?

After news about the rumored social security increase for this year emerged, economist and even the recipients, have mulled over the projected minimal increase that reflects recent years’ low inflation rate amid poor economic growth.

Previous news have it that the automatic annual Social Security Cost-of-living Allowance (COLA) increase is likely to be at  1.5 percent only based on the economists’ estimates.

Meanwhile, everyone is still waiting for the official announcement from the federal government. Therefore, the exact amount of COLA increase is still unknown.

Generally, the automatic annual increase calculation is being based on the yearly consumer price index (CPI). However, due to the recent government shutdown, the Labor Department’s report regarding inflation for this year has been delayed. Usually, the said report is being released by October to give the federal benefit program ample time to adapt with the new payment scheme by January. Thus, recipients may be able to enjoy the increase as soon as the fiscal year starts.

If the economists got it right that this year’s increase will be only about 1.5 percent, then that could be one of the lowest increases over decades.

Thus, many economists contest that the standard CPI is not the best way to track how social security recipients, particularly retirees spend. As for them, the CPI is not designed to reflect what senior and disabled recipients are actually spending. Apparently, the same mostly covers what wage earners are paying.

Among seniors, health care and medicines account for a bigger share of their spending. Each year, prices for medical-care services increase by 3.1 percent, exhibiting a much faster pace than overall prices. Transportation and education on the other hand only account for a smaller share of their expenditures.

Economists believe that a better gauge for computing the automatic COLA increase is the Labor Department’s “Experimental CPI for Americans 62 Years of Age and Older”.

One economist explained that the experimental CPI would give a rate of inflation that is 0.1 to 0.2 percentage higher that the standard CPI this year. A social security disability firm, serving greater Los Angeles likewise shares the same belief

However, that is not always the case according to another economist. During the previous decade, there were instances where in the broader index is higher, in others, the experimental index is the higher one.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Veterans Likely to Cut Off Disability Benefit Payments if the Government Shutdown Lasts a Month

In a recent announcement released by the Veterans Affairs Department (VA), the agency claimed that if the government shutdown lasts for a month, it will be forced cut off disability benefits and educational benefit payment, which could have result in financial devastation among recipients.

In the meantime, the Veterans Benefits Administration claims processor will continue to handle disability and education claims while the government is in a shutdown mode. Also, the agency has accepted VBA claim processors so that they can continue to process claims and recipients will still continue to receive their payments amid the shutdown, according to reports.

Unfortunately, those benefits are provided through the appropriated mandatory funding, which will run out by late October if the shutdown continues, claimed by VA spokeswoman Victoria Drillon.

Meanwhile, the VA has assured that it will continue updating its official web page and official Facebook and Twitter accounts intermittently during the shutdown. Also, the contact centers for disability claims will be available, but not the education benefits hotline during the shutdown period. On the other hand, public affairs staff will be furloughed, the reports said.

Moreover, the shutdown will also affect burials and cemeteries operated by the VA, which claimed that internments would be “conducted on a modified rate”. 

We have to be hopeful that Congress will reach some sort of comprise before millions of disabled veterans and survivors are financially devastated,” the Department of Foreign Wars (DFW) spokesman, Joe Davis, said.

Also, the American Legion National Commander, Daniel M. Dellinger, said in his appeal to lawmakers that, “Congress has an obligation to put veterans ahead of politics. The fact that funding for VA benefits could disappear in a month ought to be incentive enough for our elected leaders to achieve a solution.”
As it is, millions of American veterans rely for a living, education and medications on federal benefit programs that are feared to come to an end in case the government shutdown pushes through the end of October. Thus, a Los Angeles disability lawyer hopes that the Congress will soon come to a resolution to get the government back in full swing.