“Helping constituents, especially our seniors, solve seemingly intractable problems is what my district office does every day.”
Social Security Administration and its Inspector General Announce New Online Reporting Form for Imposter Scam Calls
Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, and Gail S. Ennis, the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration, announce the launch of a dedicated online form at https://oig.ssa.gov to receive reports from the public of Social Security-related scams. These scams—in which fraudulent callers mislead victims into making cash or gift card payments to avoid arrest for purported Social Security number problems—skyrocketed over the past year to become the #1 type of fraud reported to the Federal Trade Commission and the Social Security Administration.
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.
“We are taking action to raise awareness and prevent scammers from harming Americans,” Commissioner Saul said. “I am deeply troubled that our country has not been able to stop these crooks from deceiving some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
Commissioner Saul and Inspector General Ennis encourage the public to use the new online form to report Social Security phone scams including robocalls and live callers, as well as email, text, and in-person scams. The form allows people to create a unique Personal Identification Number (PIN), so if OIG contacts a person about their report, they will know the call is legitimate.
“Awareness is our best hope to thwart the scammers,” said Inspector General Ennis. “Tell your friends and family about them and report them to us when you receive them, but most importantly, just hang up and ignore the calls.”
Social Security employees do occasionally contact people--generally those who have ongoing business with the agency--by telephone for business purposes. However, Social Security employees will never threaten a person, or promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money. In those cases, the call is fraudulent and people should just hang up.
Generally, the agency mainly calls people who have recently applied for a Social Security benefit, someone who is already receiving payments and requires an update to their record, or a person who has requested a phone call from the agency. If a person is not in one of these situations, they normally would not receive a call from the agency.
Social Security will not:
Tell you that your Social Security number has been suspended.
Contact you to demand an immediate payment.
Ask you for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Require a specific means of debt repayment, like a prepaid debit card, a retail gift card, or cash.
Demand that you pay a Social Security debt without the ability to appeal the amount you owe.
Promise a Social Security benefit approval, or increase, in exchange for information or money.
If there is a problem with a person’s Social Security number or record, in most cases Social Security will mail a letter.
If a person needs to submit payments to Social Security, the agency will send a letter with instructions and payment options. People should never provide information or payment over the phone or Internet unless they are certain of who is receiving it.
The Social Security OIG will also continue to take reports of fraud, waste, and abuse in Social Security’s programs and operations. A separate online form for those reports remains available at their website.
My Social Security
The Social Security Administration is encouraging people to take control of their future with my Social Security. On your my Social Security account, you can check your earnings history, confirm you have enough credits to retire, see an estimate of future benefits while still working, or manage your monthly benefits once you begin receiving them. You can also check the status of your application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card, and get an instant benefit verification letter. It is important to create a my Social Security account in order to protect your information—as long as you have created your account under your Social Security number, that means no one else can!
To create your my Social Secuirty account, click here.
Need help with your Social Security claim?
Return this form filled out and signed, to our office by mail or fax and we will reach out to you as soon as possible.
Social Security Announces 2.8 Percent Benefit Increase for 2019
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 67 million Americans will increase 2.8 percent in 2019, the Social Security Administration announced today.
The 2.8 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 62 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2019. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 31, 2018. (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.
Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $132,900 from $128,400.
Social Security and SSI beneficiaries are normally notified by mail in early December about their new benefit amount. This year, for the first time, most people who receive Social Security payments will be able to view their COLA notice online through their my Social Security account. People may create or access their my Social Security account online at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.
Information about Medicare changes for 2019, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov. For Social Security beneficiaries receiving Medicare, Social Security will not be able to compute their new benefit amount until after the Medicare premium amounts for 2019 are announced. Final 2019 benefit amounts will be communicated to beneficiaries in December through the mailed COLA notice and my Social Security’s Message Center.
The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.
CMS announces 2019 Medicare Parts A & B premiums and deductibles
Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the 2019 premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts for Medicare Parts A and B.
“CMS is committed to empowering beneficiaries with the information they need to make informed decisions about their healthcare,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “In addition to the information we recently released for Medicare Advantage, the program through which private plans provide Medicare benefits, today we are releasing information for fee-for-service Medicare, so enrollees understand their options for receiving Medicare benefits.”
As announced earlier this month, CMS launched the eMedicare Initiative that aims to modernize the way beneficiaries get information about Medicare and create new ways to help them make the best decisions for themselves and their families. Ahead of Medicare Open Enrollment – which begins on October 15, 2018 and ends December 7, 2018 – CMS is making improvements the Medicare.gov website to help beneficiaries compare options and decide if Original Medicare or Medicare Advantage is right for them. Among the tools released as part of the eMedicare Initiative is a stand-alone, mobile optimized out of pocket cost calculator that will provide information on both overall costs and prescription drug costs.
Medicare Part B Premiums/Deductibles
Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A.
The standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B enrollees will be $135.50 for 2019, a slight increase from $134 in 2018. An estimated 2 million Medicare beneficiaries (about 3.5 percent) will pay less than the full Part B standard monthly premium amount in 2019 due to the statutory hold harmless provision, which limits certain beneficiaries’ increase in their Part B premium to be no greater than the increase in their Social Security benefits.
CMS also announced that the annual deductible for Medicare Part B beneficiaries is $185 in 2019, an increase from $183 in 2018.
Medicare Part A Premiums/Deductibles
Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital, skilled nursing facility, and some home health care services. About 99 percent of Medicare beneficiaries do not have a Part A premium since they have at least 40 quarters of Medicare-covered employment.
The Medicare Part A inpatient deductible that beneficiaries will pay when admitted to the hospital is $1,364 in 2019, an increase of $24 from $1,340 in 2018.
Medicare Advantage Premiums
Medicare beneficiaries can choose to enroll in fee-for-service Medicare (Parts A and B) or can select a private Medicare Advantage plan to receive their Medicare benefits. Premiums and deductibles for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans are already finalized and are unaffected by this announcement.
Last month, CMS released the benefit, premium, and cost sharing information for Medicare Advantage plans in 2019. On average, Medicare Advantage premiums will decline while plan choices and new benefits increase. On average, Medicare Advantage premiums in 2019 are estimated to decrease by six percent to $28, from an average of $29.81 in 2018.
For a fact sheet on the 2019 Medicare Parts A & B premiums and deductibles, please visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2019-medicare-parts-b-premiums-and-deductibles.
For more information on the 2019 Medicare Parts A and B premiums and deductibles (CMS-8068-N, CMS-8069-N, CMS-8070-N), please visit https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection.
New Medicare Card Project – Important Updates
CMS started mailing newly-designed Medicare cards with the new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI), or Medicare Number. People enrolling in Medicare for the first time will be among the first to get the new cards, no matter where they live. Current Medicare beneficiaries will get their new cards on a rolling basis over the coming months. We will continue to accept the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) through the transition period.
During our planning, we continuously adjusted and improved our mailing strategy to make sure we are:
- Mailing the new cards to accurate addresses
- Protecting current Medicare beneficiaries and their personal information in every way possible
We are working on making our processes even better by using the highest levels of fraud protection when we mail new cards to current Medicare beneficiaries. Over the next few weeks, we will complete this additional work and begin mailing new cards to current Medicare beneficiaries.
We are committed to mailing new cards to all Medicare beneficiaries over the next year. For more information, visit the New Medicare Card landing and provider webpages.
Are you nearing retirement and exploring new opportunities? Or, are you wondering how you will manage once you retire? A growing number of individuals over the age of 50+ are turning to small business ownership. We call them “encore entrepreneurs”.
Whether you are interested in starting a small business right away or intend to wait until retirement, now is the time to explore the possibilities.
Get Ready for a New Start
SBA has a number of resources and tools to help encore entrepreneurs effectively prepare for starting and running a small business, including business planning, mentoring and financial assistance. It’s easy to get started.
- Complete a self-assessment to understand your readiness for starting a small business.
- Try our free “starting a small business” course for encore entrepreneurs. It’s an easy-to-use guide with important details you need to know about starting and running a small business, financing and more.
Encore Entrepreneurs: An Introduction to Starting Your Own Business
Learn More at the Virtual Help Desk
Our virtual concierge, named Jean, will help you discover more SBA resources. Jean is the go-to encore entrepreneurship help desk guide. She is available anytime and anywhere to walk you through what’s available at SBA. Jean shares information on disaster planning, Veterans resources and mentoring. You also have an opportunity to tell us more about what topics you’d like to see to start, grow and manage your business.
Do I Need a Business Plan?
Your business plan is an essential part of getting your small business up and running. It will serve as your short and long-term guide to managing your business. For step-by-step instructions on developing your business plan, try the business planner to define your market, products, services, sales strategy, marketing and financing.
Find Your Local Resources
Enter your zip code to find a small business counselor or mentor through a Women’s Business Center, SCORE chapter or Small Business Development Center near you. SBA resources can help you learn more about your target market, how to manage a successful small business, and ways to sustain your growth.
Start Smart with SBA Resources
SBA small business planner
Careful planning is fundamental to success. The Small Business Planner includes information and resources that will help you at any stage of the business lifecycle.
Buy a franchise
Business franchising offers many opportunities and this form of ownership has helped many entrepreneurs.
Finance a business
An integral component of starting a successful business is raising sufficient capital. There are many challenges here, but we have numerous resources are available to help you.
SBA healthcare resources
Did you know that small business owners may be able to deduct some of health insurance premiums from their taxes? Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) can also offer more ways to save on healthcare costs.
The SBA provides information on the various programs that can help you position your business for contracting opportunities throughout the Federal Government.
Helping senior citizens navigate the federal government -- Social Security, Medicare and other resources.
The Alzheimer's Association is the world's leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research.
For more information about Social Security Retirement, Disability, Medicare, Medicaid, social security cards, or your application for benefits, click here