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The Stimulus Act and Social Security

Published on February 17th, 2009

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the stimulus legislation into law. The Act provides for a one time stimulus payment of $250 to all beneficiaries of SSI and SSD. The Social Security Administration will also receive $500 million for processing disability and retirement workloads. According to a statement by the Commissioner, the SSA hopes to hire between 5000 and 6000 new employees before the end of fiscal year 2009.

The Act also provides for premium assistance to COBRA beneficiaries. The Act applies to individuals who became or who will become eligible for COBRA between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009, assuming that they were involuntarily terminated from employment. The premium assistance lasts up to nine months from enactment. Eligible individuals pay only 35 percent of their COBRA premiums and the remaining 65 percent is reimbursed to the coverage provider through a tax credit.

Backlog Update

As of December, 2008, the Hearing Office backlogs continue to be severe but are getting somewhat better. The Evanston Hearing office reported an average of 420 days to process a hearing request to the final decision. The Chicago office needed 545 days. The Orland Park office showed a significant improvement, cutting its processing time to 545 days from 774 earlier in the year. Oak Brook Terrace office also improved, with a backlog of 617 days, down from 768.

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