The U.S. Department of Education announced yesterday (August 20, 2021) that it will cancel $5.8 billion in student debt for more than 320,000 borrowers. The debt forgiveness, which will go to borrowers with a total and permanent disability, will be automatically granted using data already available to the Social Security Administration. Borrowers will begin to see the relief in September.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued the third round of Economic Impact Payments (EIP) in April. Most Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients should have received their EIPs by now. If a person is missing their first or second EIP, they need to file a 2020 tax return with the IRS and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) as soon as possible.
Any person who did not receive his or her EIP, or the full amount of their EIP, please read this carefully. To get any missing first or second EIPs, file a 2020 tax return with the IRS and claim the 2020 Recovery Rebate Credit (RRC) immediately. People should file the 2020 tax return even if they have no income to report for 2020. When the tax return is processed, the IRS will pay the RRC as a tax refund. The IRS will send any additional third EIP amount owed in 2021 separately.
If people already filed their 2020 tax return, they do not need to do anything else.
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for approximately 70 million Americans will increase 1.3 percent in 2021, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 1.3 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 64 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2021. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2020. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits). The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If the payroll tax deferral becomes permanent next year, as the President indicates he wants to do, the trust fund that pays out Social Security benefits could run out in three years without other funds to cover the shortfall, according to a new analysis.
The fund that provides disability benefits would deplete even sooner — by the second half of next year, according to the chief actuary of the Social Security Administration.
Currently, the Social Security funds are estimated to run out in 2034, while the disability fund is expected to remain solvent until 2065, according to the 2020 OASDI Trustees Report.
Social Security Unveils Redesigned Retirement Benefits Portal at socialsecurity.gov
The Social Security Administration announced the first of several steps the agency is taking to improve the public’s experience on its website. The newly redesigned retirement benefits portal, at www.socialsecurity.gov/benefits/retirement, will help millions of people prepare for and apply for retirement.
“We are working hard to continue improving our website to provide people with clear, helpful information and easy access to our online services,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. “Our new retirement portal is more user-friendly and easier to navigate, whether someone is ready to learn about, apply for, or manage their retirement benefits.”
The redesigned portal will make it easier for people to find and read about Social Security retirement benefits, with fewer pages and condensed, rewritten, and clearer information. The portal also is optimized for mobile devices so people can learn and do what they want from wherever they want, and the portal now includes the ability to subscribe to receive retirement information and updates.
Good News Regarding Social Security Trust Fund
The Social Security Board of Trustees released their 2020 annual report earlier this week, which included some positive news: the financial health of the Federal Disability Insurance (DI) Trust Fund has improved significantly and can now pay full benefits until 2065. This estimate is 13 years more than what was indicated in last year’s report and 33 years longer than the 2018 report. After 2065, the trust fund is predicted to pay 92 percent of benefits.
Update on Stimulus Checks
“Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients who don’t file tax returns will start receiving their automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department soon. People receiving benefits who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes, and have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should immediately go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filersenter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here section to provide their information. Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries with dependent children and who did not file 2018 or 2019 taxes need to act by Wednesday, April 22, in order to receive additional payments for their eligible children quickly. SSI recipients need to take this action by later this month; a specific date will be available soon.
Social Security Administration warns the public about a recent scam.
The Social Security Administration launched a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to continue warning people about the ongoing nationwide telephone impersonation scheme. The scammers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments for help with purported identity theft, or to avoid arrest for bogus problems with Social Security number.
Social Security officials also warn that people should also be on the lookout for a new version of this scam. Fraudsters are now emailing fake documents in attempts to get people to comply with their demands. Victims have received emails with attached letters and reports that appear to be from Social Security or the OIG (Office of Inspector General). The letters may use official letterhead and government jargon to convince victims they are legitimate.
Social Security Offices Will Soon Be Open Again On Wednesday Afternoons
Starting on January 8, 2020, Social Security offices nationwide will be open to the public on Wednesday afternoons, Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, announced. This change restores Wednesday public service hours that were last in place in late 2012.
Currently, a field office is generally open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to Noon on Wednesdays. Beginning on January 8, 2020, offices will remain open until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, with typical field office hours from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Report an Online Social Security Scam
In an earlier blog, we reported that scams falsely claiming to be associated with Social Security were on the rise. In response, Social Security recently announced the launch of a dedicated online form at https://oig.ssa.gov to receive reports from the public of Social Security-related scams.
To combat these scams, Social Security and the OIG will use the new online form to capture data that will be analyzed for trends and commonalities. The OIG will use the data to identify investigative leads, which could help identify criminal entities or individuals participating in or facilitating the scams. Ultimately, these efforts are expected to disrupt the scammers, help reduce this type of fraud, and reduce the number of victims.