Social Security Extends Access to Benefit Verification

On Thursday, July 17, 2014 the Social Security Administration announced that local Social Security offices would continue to provide benefit verification letters until further notice. Providing services when and where the public needs them remains central to Social Security’s efforts, while continuing to encourage federal, state, and local agencies to take advantage of Social Security’s data exchange programs that can serve customers more efficiently and effectively.

“We appreciate the feedback from members of Congress, our community stakeholders and agency partners. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of our customers in a way that is convenient for them and also cost-effective and secure for all,” Acting Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin stated. “I believe that government agencies can work closer together to assist our mutual customers.”

Over the last few years, Social Security has invested in technology that allows most government agencies and many other organizations to verify their clients’ Social Security benefits electronically without requiring them to visit a local Social Security office.

“We recognize that some members of the public may require in-person assistance and we will have a presence in local communities,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “We also want to ensure that the public is aware that they can access many of our services without making a trip to a local field office.”

Members of the public with Internet access can obtain benefit verification information by creating a my Social Security account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Verifying your clients’ Social Security benefits is easy! This YouTube webinar is designed for advocates, social service agencies, and other third parties to help promote the use of Social Security’s online service options.

SGA, TWP and Other Important Numbers

Just as benefits increased in 2013, so too did the amount for SGA (substantial gainful activity).  This is perhaps the most misunderstood amount when people speak of disability.  Many believe they can make this much money and keep their disability.  The truth is that the amount is the gross wages per month, which for 2013 is $1,040 for non-blind persons and $1,740 if you are blind.  The problem comes if you are paid every two weeks – you will go over in the months you receive 3 paychecks when you had been planning on 2 checks per month to keep you under.

But wait!  TWP (trial work period) refers to amounts earned during a specific time frame.  One can both work and receive benefits, but upon successful completion of the TWP, benefits cease!  For 2013, the amount that triggers a TWP analysis is $750 … almost $300 less than SGA!  People often get these amounts confused, and this information is just the tip of the iceberg.  For further information on TWP, go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/OACT/COLA/twp.html