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Recent Issues


 Page last revised Sep 15, 2008
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The following are items of recent Congressional interest.


Hurricane Ike

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced that benefit checks were delivered to Gulf Coast residents on Tuesday, September 9, before the arrival of Hurricane Ike and one day ahead of the regular payment date.

Current information on SSA response to Hurricane Ike:


Update on Gustav

On Friday, August 29, 2008, Commissioner Astrue announced steps taken to ensure early delivery of benefit checks to residents along the gulf coast from McAllen, Texas to Tallahassee, Florida.


Retirement Benefits Estimator Online NOW

July 21, 2008 -- Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, today unveiled a new online calculator at that will provide immediate and personalized benefit estimates to help people plan for their retirement. The Retirement Estimator is tied to a person’s actual Social Security earnings record and eliminates the need to manually key in years of earnings information.

Social Security Administration Attacks Disability Backlog

Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security, announced that the Social Security Administration made progress in the 2007 fiscal year (FY) toward making faster decisions on disability claims.

“Better systems and business processes were essential to the progress we made in 2007,” Commissioner Astrue said, “but we cannot overlook the tens of thousands of overtime hours put in by the hardworking men and women of the Social Security Administration.”

A Summary of Initiatives to Eliminate the SSA Hearings Backlog was outlined by Commissioner Astrue during a May 23, 2007 appearance before the Senate Finance Committee.

SSA's Plan to Reduce the Hearings Backlog and Improve Public Service is further detailed in this September 13, 2007 report.

Commissioner Astrue announced that SSA's National Hearing Center (NHC) is open for business, in this December 17, 2007 press release. The NHC is one of the many steps the agency has taken to address the backlog of disability cases at the hearing level.

The status of SSA’s Initiatives to Eliminate the Social Security Administration Hearing Backlog is provided as of June 27, 2008 in this report which we will update periodically.

The Semiannual Report on SSA's Plan to Eliminate the Hearing Backlog and Prevent Its Recurrence details the progress made in the first half of FY 2008.


Social Security Employee
No-Match Letters

As part of the Social Security Administration's ongoing efforts to ensure that workers have an opportunity to correct any discrepancies in their earnings records, SSA began releasing the Tax Year 2007 Employee “No-Match” letters (also known as the Decentralized Correspondence, or DECOR letters) on April 3, 2008. It is important to note that the employee no-match letters are not subject to the Department of Homeland Security's rule entitled “Safe Harbor Procedures for Employers That Receive a No Match Letter” or the related pending court case.  

ALJ Hiring

On February 26, 2008, Commissioner Astrue announced that SSA was extending offers to 144 Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) candidates; 135 candidates have accepted. Hiring new ALJs is a crucial element of the Commissioner’s plan to reduce the disability hearings backlog. Click here to see a breakdown of the 135 ALJ selections by hearing office and state.

2007 Performance and Accountability Report

SSA's PAR for FY 2007 incorporates SSA's Annual Performance Report with the agency's audited financial statements to provide full disclosure of SSA's financial and programmatic operations. 


Social Security Employer
No-Match Letters






On October 10, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a preliminary injunction in AFL-CIO, et al. v. Chertoff, et al. (N.D. Cal. Case No. 07-CV-4472 CRB). The preliminary injunction enjoins and restrains the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration from implementing the Final Rule entitled "Safe-Harbor Procedures for Employers Who Receive a No-Match Letter."

Each year SSA receives approximately 245 million wage reports on Forms W-2 from employers covering approximately 153 million workers. To help improve the accuracy of the wage reporting process, SSA issues Educational Correspondence (EDCOR) letters, commonly known as the Employer “No-Match” letter, when an employer submits Forms W-2 where a significant number of employees' names or corresponding Social Security numbers can not be matched to SSA's records.



Other Information


A+ for SSA

On May 20, 2008, Tom Davis, ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, announced the results of the Committee's annual evaluation of agencies' ability to safeguard sensitive information on government computer systems. The grades are derived from annual reports agencies produce to comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA).

Agencies were rated on their annual tests of information security, their plans of action and milestones or corrective-action plans, whether they certify and accredit their systems as secure, how well they manage the configuration of their computers to ensure security, how they detect and react to breaches, their training programs and the accuracy of their inventories.

SSA received a grade of A+ with high confidence in the results because of sterling financial audits. Click here for the Fiscal Year 2007 annual FISMA report card.

2008 Trustees Report

On March, 25, 2008, the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees released their annual reports on the status of the Social Security and Medicare programs. Press Release. Reports Summary. Complete OASDI report.

Social Security Announces 2.3 Percent Benefit Increase for 2008

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income benefits for more than 54 million Americans will increase 2.3 percent in 2008, the Social Security Administration announced today.


New Security Features of the Social Security Card

Effective October 1, 2007, the Social Security card included new security features. These changes are the result of recommendations made by the Interagency Task Force that was created as part of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), P.L. 108-458. SSA further strengthened and safeguarded the card from counterfeiting, tampering, alteration and theft by implementing the task force recommendations.



The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, P.L. 108-173, enacted December 8, 2003, required SSA to undertake a number of additional Medicare-related responsibilities. Detailed information about SSA's activities under the prescription drug legislation is available here.



Current information about the status of Social Security totalization agreements with other countries. Also available: a Fact Sheet and Press Release on a Totalization Agreement with Mexico.



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Last reviewed or modified Monday Sep 15, 2008
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