Understanding Supplemental Security Income

Understanding Supplemental Security Income

The Supplemental Security Income program (SSI) was created by the United States government in 1974 to provide aid to individuals that are blind, disabled or aged 65 and above. Though similar assistance programs existed, the SSI program replaced them to create a more comprehensive set of guidelines, standards and requirements. SSI was brought about as a part of the Nixon administration’s efforts to reform the condition of welfare in the United States. During that administration, each state offered different forms of aid under the Aid to the Blind, Aid to the Permanently and Totally Disabled, and Aid to the Elderly programs. With the Supplemental Security Income program established, the rudimentary differences between each state’s programs disappeared. This was due to the Social Security Administration (SSA) taking charge of the program and restructuring guidelines of the program from the federal level to the state level. Although the SSA oversees and operates the Supplemental Security Income program, funds are not supplied by the Social Security trust fund. The United States Treasury supplies monies for the program from its general funds.
Applicants must meet certain criteria to be considered eligible for the Supplemental Security Income program. This criteria includes:
         Being blind, disabled, or aged 65 or older;
         Being a United States citizen residing in one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or a student studying abroad;
         Having an income within certain limitations and constraints;
         and, Applying for the SSI benefits package.
Applicants may be denied if they have not applied for other means of income aid, have outstanding warrants, or do not consent to the Social Security Administration performing a financial background check. Furthermore, if an applicant is uninsured for a disability at the time the application is filed, he or she must also apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Applications are first reviewed by the SSA to ensure that the minimum of requirements are fulfilled by the applicant. After that, the application is reviewed and investigated by the office of Disability Determination Services (DDS) in the applicant’s state. The state’s DDS office then reviews medical records, interviews the patient’s doctors, and checks any test results regarding the applicant’s condition. With the investigation completed, the state’s DDS office then renders its decision.
Unlike the Social Security Disability InsuranceThe Supplemental Security Income program is intended to provide a monthly stipend for participants in order for them to afford basic food, shelter and clothing needs. Some states bundle SSI benefits with a Medicaid package to provide for the medical needs of the participant.

Guide to Retirement Old-Age Insurance

 Guide to Retirement Old-Age Insurance

Retirement Insurance benefits (RIB), or Old Age Insurance, are available to United States citizens under the Social Security Administration (SSA). Retirement insurance is distributed to those who have reached full retirement age, as dictated by the SSA, or have been forced to retire due to a disabilityAn applicant may only apply for Old Age Insurance after reaching full retirement age.

As the standard for retirement age is changing, this depends on the year in which the applicant was born. Another factor involved is English common law which declares a person to be of a certain age on the day prior to the actual birthday. If an applicant’s birthday is January 1st, and that is when they are to reach full retirement age, that applicant can submit their application based on the retirement age assigned to the previous year. At present, the retirement ages are assigned by the Social Security Administration as follows:

         If the applicant is born between the years of 1943 and 1954, the full retirement age is 66.

         If the applicant is born in 1955, the full retirement age is 66 and two months.

         If the applicant is born in 1956, the full retirement age is 66 and four months.

         If the applicant is born in 1957, the full retirement age is 66 and six months.

         If the applicant is born in 1958, the full retirement age is 66 and eight months.

         If the applicant is born in 1959, the full retirement age is 66 and ten months.

         If the applicant is born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age is 67.

An old age insurance applicant may retire prior to the full retirement age, however, this will affect the amount of retirement benefits received. The SSA notes 62 as the earliest age for early retirement. If applying for retirement at the age of 62, the applicant may receive their retirement insurance with a 25 percent reduction.

An applicant may also retire later than their full retirement age. Doing so will increase the amount of benefits received. The SSA notes the age of 70 as the limit on the percentage increase of benefits for those that have decided to delay retirement.

Applicants may also continue to work while receiving Retirement Insurance benefits. The benefits package will not be affected unless the applicant’s earnings exceed certain limitations prior to reaching full retirement age as established by the Social Security Administration. Old Age insurance benefits may also be taxable depending on the earnings of the applicant.

If filing taxes as an Individual:

         If combined earnings fall between $25,000 and $34,000 annually, Old Age Insurance benefits can be taxed up to 50 percent.

         If combined earnings is greater than $34,000 annually, Retirement Insurance benefits can be taxed up to 85 percent.

If filing taxes along with a spouse:

         If combined earnings fall between $32,000 and $44,000 annually, Old Age Insurance benefits can be taxed up to 50 percent.

         If combined earnings fall are greater than $44,000 annually, Retirement Insurance benefits can be taxed up to 85 percent.

Medicaid Explained

Medicaid Explained

Medicaid is a government provided insurance program in the United States. While Medicare

Medicaid eligibility is prescribed on a case to case basis. The eligibility categories under the Medicaid program include children, women during pregnancy, adults with children that qualify for the program, and those suffering from disabilities. Again, in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits, applicants must be in a low income situation. Simply suffering from poverty does not guarantee Medicaid benefits. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Other eligibility criteria for Medicaid benefits include age, disability, blindness, income, and pregnancy. In regard to children, Medicaid benefits may be applied to a child who is a United States citizen or permanent resident. Even though the child can receive benefits, the child’s parent may not be eligible.

Medicaid benefits also extend to those with HIV and AIDS. Under Medicaid guidelines, an applicant with a T-cell count, or white blood cell count, below 200 can qualify for benefits. However, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends treatment and care for individuals with a T-cell count below 350. Also, those low income applicants must have a condition that has progressed to AIDS to qualify in most situations.

Medicaid is provided by each state, though it is operated and administered differently in each state. Each state’s Medicaid program is then monitored by the CMS. States often pay up to half of the cost of Medicaid benefits for participants unlike Medicare which is paid for through designated Medicare taxes. Medicaid also differs from Medicare in that it is needs based not simply available for all citizens of a certain demographic.

State guidelines and provided benefits also vary in degrees of coverage, eligibility, and payment for Medicaid applicants. In addition to providing Medicaid benefits, some states offer applicants an option to enroll in the Health Insurance Premium Payment Program (HIPP). This allows participants to receive private health insurance paid for in part, or whole, by the Medicaid program.

States receive additional federal support to pay for Medicaid services. The amount of federal aid given to each state is based on a formula known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage. This percentage is based on the poverty level of each individual state. This percentage also helps to match payments made by each state to the Medicaid program.

4 Parts of Medicare Benefits

4 Parts of Medicare Benefits

Medicare is an insurance program for United States citizens aged 65 and older through the United States government. This program was created under the Social Security Act of 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson. To qualify for Medicare benefits, applicants must be at least 65 and have lived in the United States as a legal citizen for a minimum of five years. The applicant, or his or her spouse, must also have paid Medicare taxes for a minimum of ten years to the program.
If an applicant is under the age of 65, he or she must have either begun to receive benefits under the Social Security Act or have been disabled. Medicare benefits would then become effective after two years from first receiving a disability payment. Other criteria for receiving Medicare include those applicants who receive regular dialysis treatments or require a kidney transplant and those applicants that may receive Social Security disability insurance or suffer from Lou Gehrig’s disease (or ALS).
Medicare benefits are paid for primarily through taxes. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) and the Self-Employment Contributions Act impose taxes on employers, through payroll (wages and salaries), to fund the insurance program. The taxes equal 2.9 percent of payroll to be paid to the Medicare program. Prior to 1993, there was a limit imposed through legislation on the amount of wages that could be taxed.
This cap has been disposed of since January 1, 1994. For Medicare benefits through employers, the employee and the employers split the difference of the 2.9 percent. Those who are self-employed have to provide the 2.9 percent tax from their total earnings. However, for income tax purposes, the 2.9 percent could be divided in half for the self-employed from funds set aside for income taxes.
Medicare benefits under this insurance program are divided into four parts – Hospital insurance, Medical insurance, Advantage plans, and Prescription drug plans.

Hospital insurance, or Part A of the Medicare program

This covers the costs of a participant’s overnight hospital stays or stays in a nursing facilityskilled nursing care Medical insurance, or Part B of the Medicare program, assists in paying for outpatient fees and some services not covered by Medicare Part A. Part B covers lab tests, vaccinations, dialysis, and the cost of medical equipment, e.g. wheelchairs, canes, and prosthetics.
Advantage plans, or Part C of the Medicare program
These are the plans that give participants the option to incorporate other health insurance plans into their Medicare benefits. This was made possible by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.


Prescription drug plans, or Part D of the Medicare program

These are the most recent addition to the government provided insurance program. Beginning in 2006, participants that receive benefits from Parts A and B of the Medicare program may receive benefits under Part D. These plans can be customized to choose which drugs will be covered and may exclude certain drugs. Drugs that Part D does not cover are cough suppressants, barbiturates, and benzodiazepines.

Other Social Security Benefits

Other Social Security Benefits

While the Social Security Administration
(SSA) provides benefits for United States citizens through Medicare and
Medicaid, other benefits packages are attainable under the Social Security Act
of 1965. These benefits allow citizens to maintain a certain level of income so
that basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing are met.

However, in order
to receive these benefits under the SSA, applicants must have worked for a
minimum number of years and have paid Social Security taxes. Any benefits
received will be affected by these amounts. When having approached retirement
age, citizens may apply for Retirement/Old Age Insurance.

Public Benefits

Public Benefits

Public benefits are sources of support for United States citizens which are provided and funded by the federal government. Agencies like the Social Security Administration (SSA) and legislation like the Social Security Act of 1965 ensure that citizens in need of aid receive. Public benefits available include health insurance, health care, retirement income and disability income. Many of these programs are paid for by federal and state governments, however, some do require contributions by prospective applicants in the form of taxes.

Public benefits help ensure that United States citizens are receiving proper care and can maintain certain living standards. While considered forms of social welfare, these benefits also provide for the future of the American populace. 

Medicare

Medicare is an insurance program designed to provide citizens aged 65 and older with proper medical care. Medicare is funded through taxes attributed to an employee’s pay. The Medicare program contains four parts that encompass health care benefits for its participants. These four parts, A through D, cover hospital care, medical care, advantage plans and prescription drug plans.

Parts A through D are the backbone of the Medicare program and have been amended by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003. This act updated and added guidelines to the program as health care and insurance providers had changed since the program’s inception in 1965.

Medicaid

Medicaid is another health insurance program created by the Social Security Administration for United States citizens. While Medicare focuses on care for senior citizens, Medicaid is designated for low income citizens. The Medicaid program is designed to help people with limited financial resources acquire adequate medical coverage as long as they qualify for eligibility.

The program is funded on two levels, state and federal. Each state has its own Medicaid program, however, these programs are governed on a federal level by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid ServicesStates provided coverage in varying degrees and may allow program participants to use private health insurance services. The program, is it varies by state, also receives different names in each state. In Maine, Medicaid is known as MaineCare. Wisconsin calls the program ForwardHealth. In Pennsylvania, the program is known as the Office of Medical Assistance Programs (OMAP).

Other Social Security Benefitsretirement age Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are benefits paid to citizens that can no longer work due to a disability or medical condition. Based on the SSA’s review of the disability, the applicant may receive benefits until they are able to return to the job market or for as long as the medical condition persists. Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) is another benefits package available to the elderly, disabled and blind from the SSA. These benefits are another form of social welfare and aim to help those with limited financial resources or disabilities. 

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) oversees hospitals and medical centers that provide care for United States military veterans. The VHA also trains doctors and nurses for the purposes of giving proper care to veterans.

Though in the past the VHA has received negative press for high mortality rates and poor patient evaluations, measures have been taken to ensure that these issues are no longer a cause for concern. These measures include updating facilities and creating centers for outpatient care. The VHA has also developed new systems to prevent medical malpractice on the behalf of doctors and nurses.

The VHA provides care for veterans regardless of gender or socioeconomic status. However, veterans must meet eligibility guidelines before care can be given. 

Veterans Health Administration

Veterans Health Administration

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides medical care and treatment for United States military veterans. This care is provided through designate veteran’s hospitals across the United States. In addition to these hospitals, the VHA provides outpatient care, nursing homes.
The VHA, formerly the Veterans Affairs’ Department of Medicine and Surgery, has set special objectives and initiatives for itself to ensure that the best possible care is given to United States war veterans. These objectives include:
         Providing care for veterans regardless of gender and socioeconomic standing (i.e. providing care for homeless veterans);
         Training nurses and doctors to ensure veterans receive proper care;
         Supporting research programs, fellowship programs and medical trials, especially in the field of geriatrics;
         Providing care for veterans recently discharged from combat to help re-acclimate those veterans to life back home;
         Leading research into the development of new prosthetics for those veterans who have lost limbs during tours of combat;
         and developing treatment for the symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Along with these initiatives, the Veterans Health Administration has developed a newer, effective system of records keeping known as VistA. The Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) is an electronic system of records keeping that has helped to reduce the amount of error in veterans’ hospitals. The VistA system operates by creating bar codes to track nurses, physicians, patients and medications. Patients, nurses and physicians wear wristbands with bar codes to be scanned each time medication is given to a patient.
The medication is scanned as well to keep a clear record of what medications are given to which patients by whom and in what amounts. The VistA system also operates in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) For decades, the VHA and its hospitals received negative reviews from patients and their families for the level of care received.
Complaints were issued due to the state of facilities and high mortality rates among veterans admitted to veterans hospitals. In 1985, Congress ratified Public Law 99-166 which requires the Veterans Health Administration to report their treatment outcomes of patients for comparison with outcomes of hospitals nationwide. The purpose of this law was to better understand illnesses, and their degree, that affected United States veterans.
Due to these efforts, in the 1990s the VHA made changes to its infrastructure to better provide care for veterans. The changes made brought in better beds for patients, updated hospitals, created outpatient care sites, created new guidelines for the Veterans Health Administration facilities when receiving veterans and prescribing care.
Veterans that qualify for care by the Veterans Health Administration are retired veterans, veterans injured during service, and veterans that received a Purple Heart. Other qualifications are based on a veteran’s financial need and level of disability.
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