August 28, 2012

YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY Davenport, Iowa Office

By Karen Cole
Social Security District Manager
Davenport, Iowa


On Labor Day, many Americans commemorate the fruits of their hard work by taking a day off from it. There are gatherings and games, barbecues, and baseball. Labor Day was established in 1882, and it has become an American tradition to celebrate with family and friends.

For many Americans who receive Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits, Labor Day can be a good day to think about the future. It may be that, in spite of your disabling condition, you would like to attempt to work. But perhaps you’re apprehensive because you don’t want to find out you’re not quite up to the task and risk losing your benefits and critical medical coverage.

We have good news for you: our work incentives can help you go to work without the worry.

Work incentives include:

• Continued cash benefits for a period of time while you work;
• Continued Medicare or Medicaid while you work; and
• Help with education, training, and rehabilitation to start a new line of work.

For example, a trial work period allows you to test your ability to work for at least nine months without affecting your benefits. Beyond that, an extended period of eligibility allows you to work another 36 months and still receive benefits, depending on your earnings. If your benefits stopped because your earnings were too high, but you find that your disabling condition does not allow you to stick with the job, you’re eligible for expedited reinstatement without having to complete a new application.

If you are successful at returning to work, but you fear the loss of your medical coverage, here’s more good news. You can continue to get Medicare Part A for at least 7 years after your cash benefits end, and after that you can buy Medicare Part A coverage by paying a monthly premium. Through it all, you can opt to continue paying your Medicare Part B premium for that additional coverage.

In addition to these incentives, you also may be interested in the Ticket to Work program, which may be able to help you receive vocational rehabilitation, training, job referrals, and other employment support services free of charge.

Visit to learn more. Or read our publication, Working While Disabled—How We Can Help, available at


Making proper Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments is no game. But improving our accuracy has some similarities to a good football strategy. You’ve got to be strong on both defense and offense.

Social Security is committed to reducing improper payments. Our goal has always been to pay the right person the right amount at the right time. And we’re highly successful at doing that.

In paying retirement, survivors, and disability benefits to more than 55 million people each month, our accuracy rate is over 99 percent. When it comes to Supplemental Security Income – the means-tested program for elderly, disabled and blind people who have limited income and resources – our payment accuracy is about 91 percent.

As with a good game of football, we need a game plan to improve payment accuracy. Here is ours.

On offense, we check and recheck our benefit computations and recipient information. That’s done at kickoff, before we ever make a payment.

On defense, we have game plans, or strategies, to collect funds back from the person we improperly paid, especially if the error was the result of a beneficiary failing or incorrectly reporting an event that affects his or her payment amount. When an individual commits fraud in order to receive payments not due, we prosecute him or her to the fullest extent of the law.

We will continue to work on offense and defense in our efforts to perfect our game plan and to make each and every payment a touchdown. Learn more about what Social Security is doing to prevent improper payments by visiting our website on the subject at


What can I do to protect myself against identity theft?

First, don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Keep it at home with your other important papers. Second, avoid giving out your Social Security number. While many banks, schools, doctors, landlords, and others will request your number, it is your decision whether to provide it. Ask if there is some other way to identify you in their records.

To report identity theft, fraud, or misuse of your Social Security number, the Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, recommends you:

1. Place a fraud alert on your credit file by contacting one of the following companies (the company you contact is required to contact the other two, which will then place alerts on your reports):
• Equifax, 1-800-525-6285;
• Trans Union, 1-800-680-7289; or
• Experian, 1-888-397-3742.
2. Review your credit report for inquiries from companies you have not contacted, accounts you did not open, and debts on your accounts you cannot explain;
3. Close any accounts you know, or believe, have been tampered with or opened fraudulently;
4. File a report with your local police or the police in the community where the identity theft took place; and
5. File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY 1-866-653-4261).