When Life Changes, the Social Security Administration Needs to Know

by Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.
Contact

While the Social Security Administration (SSA) frequently conducts reviews to make sure that people who receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are still eligible for those programs, there are also times when a beneficiary is responsible for notifying the SSA of a change. These mandatory reporting events usually occur around major life changes and can often be overlooked.

One of the most important notification requirements is for beneficiaries to tell the SSA if they move. The SSA needs to know where beneficiaries live in order to send important notifications that could affect benefits. If a beneficiary misses a notification that calls for action, it could result in a loss of benefits. In addition, out-of-state moves can radically change the amount of a beneficiary's SSI award because states have different methods of calculating benefits. If a beneficiary moves from a state with a lower cost of living into a state with a higher cost of living and doesn't tell the SSA, the beneficiary could be leaving money on the table.

The death of a beneficiary also triggers an automatic reporting requirement. But on top of this, beneficiaries must also report the deaths of people living with them because the size of an SSI beneficiary's family and the earning power of the people in that family can affect SSI benefits. In certain cases, a beneficiary can receive an increased SSDI benefit when a parent or spouse passes away.

There are some other, less obvious changes that require a beneficiary to file an immediate report. Beneficiaries must report changes in income and assets, including reporting if any assistance the beneficiary was receiving to help pay for bills or housing changes. Marriage and divorce also need to be reported because the SSA factors in spousal income and resources when calculating benefits.

Beneficiaries must also tell the SSA if they become the beneficiary of a special needs trust. This could happen suddenly (when a relative dies and leaves money to the beneficiary in a trust that was previously unfunded) or it could be expected (at the conclusion of a lengthy negotiation over a personal injury settlement). Either way, the SSA should hear about the trust and receive a copy of the document.

According to the SSA's internal rules, a beneficiary is responsible for notifying the SSA in writing of these important changes within 10 days from the end of the month in which the change occurred. So, if a beneficiary moves in January, the beneficiary has until February 10th to let the SSA know. It's important to keep track of correspondence with the Social Security Administration, so the notification should always be sent with some kind of tracking system that requires a signature, like certified mail or express service with a signature.

The actual monetary penalty for failing to file the report itself is very small and is not always assessed, but a much larger problem looms in the background. If the SSA learns of a change in circumstances that would have reduced the benefit received by a person with special needs, then the SSA can recoup the improperly paid benefits from the recipient, and there is no limit to the amount that can be recovered. So, if a beneficiary fails to report a change in circumstances that would have resulted in a $100 reduction in his monthly benefit and the SSA finds out about the change five years later, that beneficiary owes the government $6,000, which can be almost impossible to repay. The end result is a further loss of benefits because the government will garnish the beneficiary's award in order to recover the improperly paid funds. On top of this, the bureaucratic nightmare that ensues when the SSA attempts to calculate the amount owed can take months, or even years, to sort out while the beneficiary is left twisting in the wind, unsure of what the monthly benefit will be moving forward.

Your special needs planner can help make sure that you comply with all of the SSA's reporting requirements. Contact your planner immediately if you have experienced, or expect to experience, any changes like the ones discussed above.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C.
Contact
more
less

Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.
Feedback? Tell us what you think of the new jdsupra.com!