Category Archives: Latest News

Latest News and Articles relevant to the APWU Retirees.

College Offers Discounts

(This article appears in the May-June 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Joyce B. Robinson, Research & Education Director

Excelsior College is an accredited, nonprofit, distance-learning institution that caters to working adults. The Postal Service’s partnership with Excelsior College enables USPS employees and their spouses or domestic partners to pursue an online degree with reduced tuition and fees. Associates, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs are available in the schools of Business and Technology, Public Service, Liberal Arts, Health Sciences, and Nursing.

The online business degrees emphasize practical skills and knowledge and focus on accounting, finance, global business and management of human resources, operations management, risk management, and marketing information systems.

Excelsior offers transfer terms for credits that students have earned at other accredited colleges; awards academic credit for prior military service, professional training courses, and other real-world experience; grants credit by exam, so students can earn full credit for subjects they’ve already mastered, and conducts degree classes online, so students can adapt them to their schedule and budget.

Students pursuing an Associate Degree in Business will learn:

  • Effective communication skills;
  • Principles of accounting, business law, computers, management, and marketing;
  • Principles of macroeconomics, microeconomics, and statistics;
  • Business problem solving;
  • About diverse cultural heritage, interpersonal relationships, the relationship between business and society, and personal values to make intelligent and discerning judgments, and
  • Computer applications used in business.

A total of 60 credits are required to graduate, including 33 in arts and sciences, 21 business component credits, and 6 electives, including a mandatory 1-credit information literacy course.

Tuition, Deadlines

A one-time application fee of $80 and enrollment fee of $130 are required to cover the processing of an application, evaluation of transferred credits, academic advisement, and academic program planning for the first year. Tuition is $360 per credit for course work. A Student Service Annual Fee is not required, provided the student completes a minimum of six course credits within the one-year period. If the student does not complete six course credits within the one-year period, a Student Service Annual Fee of $225 will be applied the subsequent year.

The Graduation Fee is $130 for program partners but reverts to the Standard Rate of $495 if the student does not complete a minimum of 12 course credits prior to the completion of his or her degree program. In the event the Graduation Fee reverts to the Standard Rate, this fee will be reduced by $15 per academic credit for each undergraduate course successfully completed. This fee reduction does not apply to academic credits transferred to Excelsior College.

There is no deadline for enrollment for the 8- and 15- week terms. Students may enroll as soon as they receive the results of their preliminary review, which shows how prior credits may apply toward a degree. Immediately upon beginning the application process, tell Excelsior’s admissions teams that you are with the United States Postal Service’s partnership in order to receive the partnership tuition and fee pricing.

Financial aid is available regardless of income, with low interest rates and flexible payment options. The best place to start is by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can find the form and additional information by visiting www.fafsa.ed.gov or call 1-855-323-9235.

Excelsior College offers more than 20 scholarships for a wide variety of programs. For more information, visit the scholarship programs page on the college’s website at www.excelsior.edu/scholarships.

For more information, including specifics on discounts, visit www.excelsior.edu/web/partners/united-states-postal-service or call 1-888-647-2388 ext. 21.

Beware of Candidates’ Misleading Appeals

(This article appears in the May-June 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

Judy Beard, Retirees Director

The Nov. 4 midterm elections are quickly approaching. Our vote is critical and can affect the outcome of the election.

Don’t be fooled by candidates with attractive campaign literature and broad statements painting themselves as a savior to seniors in order to lure our vote. You know the ads I’m talking about.

Also, beware of people who knock on your door or address community meetings speaking half-truths about their positions. Many candidates will be seeking retirees’ votes, when in fact their voting record proved that they do not support seniors.

A Case in Point

I remember too well when Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, proposed a budget plan that would end Medicare as we know it. His 2011 proposal included what is best described as a voucher system for future seniors.

Votes on Rep. Ryan’s 2011 budget fell strictly along party lines: Republicans supported the measure; Democrats opposed it.

Today, Congressman Ryan is at it again. On April 1 he circulated a new budget proposal that would replace Medicare with a voucher system. It also would raise the age of eligibility to receive Medicare, and it would re-open the donut hole in coverage for prescription drugs.

The Ryan budget plan would impact people age 56 and younger. We all have family members and former co-workers under the age of 55. There is no justification for cutting their benefits. We know that as we age, we need our medical benefits more than ever.

Let’s tell Congress that they can fix the national deficit by increasing taxes on the wealthy.

We thank Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who said, “Medicare and Medicaid are not the drivers of health care costs.” She further stated:

“They are growing more slowly than the rest of the health care sector overall. That’s been true for decades. Since the Affordable Care Act, they are growing much more slowly than private-sector spending.”

Today, as Congress debates reducing the deficit, in addition to taxing the wealthy, the legislature could find significant savings in drug costs. However, the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which created the Medicare part D drug program, explicitly prohibits the government from negotiating lower prices under Medicare.

Don’t Be a Victim

Are you at risk of being scammed? Do you know how to protect your savings?

SaveAndInvest.org is a free resource designed to help people make informed financial decisions; it is empowered by the federal government to ensure that investors are protected. The Alliance for Retired Americans supports its efforts. The company’s literature includes helpful hints to avoid fraud. If you believe that you have been defrauded or treated unfairly – or if you suspect that someone you know has been taken in by a scam – be sure to send a written complaint to a securities regulator.
– See more at: http://www.apwu.org/news/deptdiv-news-article/beware-candidates-misleading-appeals#sthash.EpeSrPwh.dpuf

Message from State Legislative Director Dave Bernstein

From APWU National…a request to please contact your House Representatives and ask them to CO-SPONSOR & SUPPORT HR 1351.

Everyone’s help is needed in building support on Capitol Hill for a very important piece of legislation introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (Dem., Mass.) HR 1351 is a bill that addresses the current financial crisis facing the Postal Service, as well as correcting the methodology used by OPM which has led to overpayments into the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) of over $50 billion dollars and overpayments of over $7 billion dollars into the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS).

Please use the link below to go to our Congressional Contact site and send an email to your House Member urging him/her to become a co-sponsor to this bill. Follow the instruction on the site and it will take only a couple of minutes of your time to send a message that National has written for you, or you can write one in your own words. Please take action as soon as possible as this matter must be resolved by congress before this fiscal year comes to a close.  www.Capwiz.com/apwu/issues/alert/

This is not a Democratic or Republican matter.  This is a matter of saving the U.S. Postal Service and saving your job.  It is so important that we are being asked to not only e-mail and call, but to actually make an appointment with your local congress person or staff person in charge of Postal Matters at their Home Office…take either other members of your family who can vote or other postal members…if you are not registered to vote DO SO IMMEDIATELY.  Explain that H.R. 1351 would require repayment of the surplus monies to the USPS, which would then allow the USPS to use those funds to meet its obligations. These are not TAXPAYER’S Monies…these are the USPS’s Monies. Let your Local know what the response was from your Congressperson.  Failure to act will result in you letting yourself, your family and the American public down….Help save the United States Postal Service and your Job.  It is vital that you immediately take action.

Just as important as being for a bill is to oppose a very bad bill that has come out of committee. H.R. 2309 would decimate the U.S. Postal Service.  It is imperative to contact your Representative and ask them to vote NO on H.R. 2309.  You can call toll free to 1-866-220-0044 and ask to be connected to your Congressperson.

About 33-40% of our members are Registered Republicans. The Agenda for the current Republican Party is to do away with Organized Labor.  We, the Unions set the standard for those who are not represented by Unions…just remember every Right that we lose we will never get back in our lifetime.  The Unions are neither Democrats nor Republicans.  They support those that support Labor’s causes….however, in recent years, while we have supported some “maverick” Republicans; for the most part it is the more liberal Democrat that is concerned with the working class. We need more support for COPA…just $52.00 a year ($2.00 per pay period) will help in the fight with Congress.  We need to educate our membership about the issues and the Legislative issues supported by our APWU                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: Washington could cost you hundreds of dollars each year…You may have seen in the NEWS…as part of the big budget agreement, leaders in Washington are considering altering the way COST-OF-LIVING ADJUSTMENTS (COLAs) are calculated in Social Security.  But what you may not know is that a change in the COLA calculations would also affect YOU and your FEDERAL RETIREMENT ANNUITY.  Don’t be silent! Call your members of Congress today…It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.  Use the toll-free numbers below and follow the instructions.

Step 1: Dial 1-866-220-0044 for the Capitol.  Ask the operator to connect you to your representative’s office or supply your ZIP code.

Step 2:  Tell the staff person who answers the telephone where you live.  So he/she knows you are a constituent.  Then say something like this:

I am a (ACTIVE/RETIRED) Federal Employee and I am calling because I would like to voice my opposition to any attempt to change the way cost-of-living adjustments in the federal retirement program are calculated.  A COLA change would hurt millions of retired federal workers who protect America and would drive qualified, talented public employees out of the federal workforce.

Step 3:  Hang up, then call again, and ask for one of your Senator’s Offices and repeat the script above…Then call your other Senator.

Step 4:  Call the White House at 1-888-225-8418 – Four calls can take less than 15 minutes, so call today.

This is not the time to sit on the side lines and let the other person do the work…it must be a united front…everyone must make the calls…it’s your jobs…it’s your future!

Life Insurance Beneficiaries May Be Due Additional Payments

Source: www.apwu.org/news/webart/2014/14-003-lifeinsurancesuit-140113.htm

Notice of Class Action Lawsuit:
Life Insurance Beneficiaries May Be Due Additional Payments

APWU Web News Article #003-14, Jan. 13, 2014

APWU has been asked to notify our members of a private class action lawsuit on behalf of beneficiaries of certain deceased postal employees.

The lawsuit covers the beneficiaries of deceased APWU and NALC bargaining unit members who were employed by the Postal Service during the period that the Annuity Protection Plan was in effect, from July 21, 1981, through Nov. 20, 1994.

The life insurance beneficiaries of deceased postal employees may be entitled to additional life insurance benefits or interest on their benefits.

For more information, click here [PDF]. You can obtain additional details by e-mailing Class Counsel at classaction@steinmitchell.com.

NOTE: All inquiries regarding this matter should be referred to Class Counsel, not APWU.

UPS, FedEx Fiasco Shows Need For Public Postal Service

Source: www.apwu.org/news/nsb/2014/nsb01-140106-staples-protests.htm

The failure of United Parcel Service and FedEx to deliver holiday packages by Christmas demonstrates the importance of the Postal Service, said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

The USPS performed well during the holiday season, but could have done even better were it not for the mandate to pre-fund healthcare benefits for retirees 75 years in advance, the union noted.

The Postal Service is under attack by corporate privatizers who want to take over the nation’s mail service, Dimondstein said. “Companies like FedEx and United Parcel Service want to get their hands on the Postal Service’s revenue.”

A 2011 Wall Street Journal editorial (Junking the Junk Mail Office) by a former United Parcel Service director underscores the point, he said. The column called for the USPS to be turned over to his company and other private corporations.

The Postal Service is able to provide better, cheaper service because it belongs to the people and operates on a non-profit basis, Dimondstein said. “The APWU will unite with the American people to preserve and expand this people’s Postal Service,” he said. “We need a vibrant service for generations to come.”

Making a List and Checking It Twice

By: Judy Beard, APWU National Director Retirees Department
Source:  www.apwu.org/dept/retiree/index.htm

(This article appears in the January-February 2014 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

Retirees were smart. We started planning for the 2014 elections right after the 2012 presidential election. We began by paying close attention to the public statements of elected officials about issues that impact our wallets, our families and the people in our communities.

Now that we’re closer to the midterm elections, which take place Nov. 4, 2014, it’s time for retirees to increase our involvement and start taking aggressive steps to protect our benefits. In approximately 11 months, every member of the House and 33 members of the Senate will be up for election. Gubernatorial races also will be held in 36 states and three territories.

Let’s all begin by making a list of contacts who will be our support network in the upcoming election. The list should include family members, friends, neighbors, and people we know in community organizations, along with their names, phone numbers, home and email addresses.

Our goal is to provide the people on our list with information about issues and help with voter registration, absentee ballot information, and poll locations and hours.

Retirees must step up our political participation because we have seen too many attacks on seniors in recent years. Many congressional representatives may think that by the time Election Day arrives, we will have forgotten who on the ballot favored cutting Social Security, Medicare, federal retirement programs, healthcare benefits and other “entitlement programs.” They refuse to accept the fact that our benefits are not the cause of the nation’s deficit.

Fifty-one Republicans were bold enough to call for cuts in Social Security in an Oct. 8, 2013, letter to House Speaker John Boehner. They wrote:

“We believe that the ongoing fiscal discussions in Congress provide an opportunity to address entitlement program deficits.”

“Many budget advocacy organizations on all sides of the political spectrum have stated recently that Social Security is the most straightforward entitlement program to address.”

“Virtually everyone recognizes that our nation’s entitlement programs are the primary, long-term drivers of our debt.”

(To read the entire letter, visit http://tinyurl.com/psply6q.) The signers’ names are listed below. Is your representative on the list?

State     U.S. Representative State     U.S. Representative
AL           Mo BrooksAR          Steve Womack

AR          Tim Griffin

CA          Devin Nunes

CA          Doug LaMalfa

CA          John Campbell

CO          Cory Gardner

CO          Scott Tipton

FL            Dennis Ross

FL            Jeff Miller

FL            Richard Nugent

FL            Ron DeSantis

FL            Steve Southerland

FL            Ted Yoho

FL            Tom Rooney

GA          Austin Scott

GA          Phil Gingrey

GA          Rob Woodall

IL             Aaron Schock

IL             Adam Kinzinger

IL             John Shimkus

IL             Randy Hultgren

IN           Marlin Stutzman

IN           Todd Rokita

IN           Todd Young

KY           Andy Barr

MD         Andy HarrisMI          Bill Huizenga

MO        Vicky Hartzler

MS         Alan Nunnelee

MS         Steven Palazzo

ND          Kevin Cramer

NV          Mark Amodei

NY          Tom Reed

OH          Bob Gibbs

OH          Jim Renacci

OH          Steve Stivers

OK          Jim Bridenstine

OK          Markwayne Mullin

PA          Glenn Thompson

PA          Mike Kelly

SC           Mick Mulvaney

SC           Tom Rice

TN          Marsha Blackburn

TX           Bill Flores

UT          Chris Stewart

UT          Jason Chaffetz

VA          Scott Rigell

WI          Reid Ribble

WI          Tom Petri

WY         Cynthia Lummis

We cannot continue to elect officials who try to balance the budget on the backs of seniors. We must make sure everyone on our contact list is registered to vote, has the proper ID, knows the issues, and votes for candidates who support our families.

‘Keeping It Local’ with Political Activism

By: John L. Marcotte, APWU National Legislative & Political Department Director
Source:  www.apwu.org/dept/legis/index.htm

(This article appeared in the January-February 2014 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

As the newly elected director of the Legislative and Political Department, I want to thank you for your support. Your support gives our union a mandate to make things happen, keep postal workers in the middle class, and protect our hard-won benefits. I accept the mandate and ask that you join with me to educate our friends and neighbors, participate in rallies and other activities, and organize for sweeping change.

We will win job security by mobilizing our members to fight anti-postal measures and by using political action to expand our reach and gain political allies.

“Keeping it Local” is a new program launched by the Legislative and Political Department to engage and train our active members at the local and state level in political action. Training will allow for a more coordinated and sustained effort to support local union involvement in events, pickets and rallies on a broad range of worker issues. Simply put, we will ramp up local involvement to better direct, communicate, and coordinate our activities across the country.

“Keeping It Local” means we protect our constitutional right to a vibrant Postal Service by building broad support among our allies and their organizations. As President Dimondstein has said, this includes seniors, retirees, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, the labor movement, community groups, faith-based organizations, the Occupy movement, and even some business groups.

Strengthening COPA 3-6-9

As a part of our “Keeping It Local” effort, we will strengthen our COPA framework by offering the option for contributors to participate in COPA 3-6-9, a forthcoming initiative designed to support and empower our interests in our neighborhoods and nationwide.

With the COPA 3-6-9 initiative you can be sure that your COPA contributions will have a real impact on your community. Through COPA 3-6-9, we will ask you to give $3, $6, or $9 per pay period. We intend – as far as is practical – to give the first third of these COPA contributions to support local allies and initiatives in your home state; to give the second third of your COPA contribution to support candidates in federal races in your state, and to give the final third of your COPA contribution to the general COPA fund. COPA 3-6-9 will allow you to put your money to work at the local and federal level, so keep your eyes peeled for its rollout.

For COPA 3-6-9 to work, every APWU member must have skin in the game. COPA disbursements at the local and state level give us an opportunity to secure legislative wins and build relationships between APWU locals and elected officials early in their careers. We have to give to get.

The APWU represents more than 220,000 postal workers and retirees, and nearly 2,000 private-sector mail workers. Yet COPA has less money now than at the start of both the 2010 and 2012 campaign seasons. We need to do better and we will. Clearly, the bigger the COPA team, the stronger we are.

Why do we need to “keep it local,” train more APWU members in political activism, and give more to COPA? We need greater resources to fight for the dignity of middle-class postal jobs, stop facility closures, save overnight delivery standards, keep our healthcare plan in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), pursue innovation at the USPS, and work to increase the opportunities to vote by mail.

On the legislative front, the department has been educating members of Congress about the devastating cuts to the mail processing network and the delays they are causing. News stories about late mail are surfacing across the country and we are hearing from members of Congress and their staff that late bills and payments are impacting their constituents’ credit and resulting in late fees.

In identifying new potential allies who share our concern about slowed mail, we want to hear directly from APWU members about postal customers who are suffering through the mail slowdown created by closures and consolidations. Please provide us with specific information, such as the nature of the delay, its impact, the individual or organization’s name, location and contact information.

The dictionary defines “activism” as “vigorous and sometimes aggressive action in pursuing a political or social end.”

Political activism means that we will unleash our union membership in every congressional district to achieve the mandate you have given us. We will be focused, successful, and relentless. Be assured no matter what “crisis” is generating headlines in Washington DC, your Legislative and Political Department will be aggressively working every day on your behalf.

Brothers and sisters, we are pursuing a more perfect union and a local action network. United in solidarity we will score victory.

We Will Build a ‘Grand Alliance’

By: Mark Dimondstein, APWU National President
Source: www.apwu.org/dept/presvp/index.htm

(This article appears in the January-February 2014 edition of The American Postal Worker.)

Greetings, my sisters and brothers! I am deeply honored to be elected APWU president, and I greatly appreciate the many activists around the country who worked for change. I join APWU members across the country in thanking the outgoing officers for their years of service to the APWU and their help in implementing a smooth transition.

Our election was hotly contested, with sharply differing visions for the future of our struggle. But the election is over, and unity must be the watchword as we fight Congress, the privatizers, and a postal management that is bent on destroying the Postal Service.

As your president, I promise that I will always be honest with you; I will listen well, welcome new ideas, and work for the common good.

As I embark on this weighty responsibility, I salute those who have come before us in the labor movement — from the Haymarket martyrs of 1886, who were killed in the fight for the eight-hour day, to the women and children murdered by Rockefeller thugs in the 1914 Ludlow massacre. From the courageous Flint sit-down strikers of 1936 whose brave actions forced the auto bosses to recognize their union, to those who perished, endured the beatings, jail and firings, persevered and overcame so that the working class could have a better life.

In our postal family, the heroes of the Great Postal Strike of 1970 defied unjust laws to fight for dignity and a livable wage. Their victory laid the basis for the APWU and for good union jobs in the USPS.

Dire Straits

But our U.S. labor movement is in dire straits. We are at the lowest unionization rate in 97 years. And with this weakened union movement, wages are down while corporate profits are up, more people are jobless and real pensions are disappearing. Union busting and concessionary union contracts abound, and workers lack any real independent political voice.

And anything that stands for the public good — public libraries, public education, public utilities, public transportation and public postal services are under severe attack.

It is in this context that APWU members will chart a new direction as we face the daunting challenge of protecting our jobs, our retirement and our public postal service. What is the new direction?

First, the Postal Service is at a cross roads — will it be the post office of the 1%, the Wall Street privatizers and profiteers? Or will it remain in the hands of the people, the 99%, offering universal, uniform, publicly-owned service for all?

The threat of privatization is very real. The threat to subcontract all of mail processing, retail, transportation, main­tenance and support services is upon us.

Not Enough

So how do we most effectively fight back against hostile management, hostile Wall Street and a hostile Congress?

Writing to Congress is important, but it is not enough. Lobbying for legislation is important, but it is not enough. When the Flint sit-down strikers occupied a General Mo­tors plant in 1936, labor law reform came to life. When women took to the streets to demand the right to vote, they won. When courageous civil rights workers fought segre­gation with sit-ins and boycotts, the 1964 Civil Rights Act followed.

History shows that movements move Congress. Movements create legislative victories, not the other way around.

So, we must build a “grand alliance” between the peo­ple of this country and postal workers. We must mobilize our allies and their organizations — including seniors, retirees, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, the labor movement, community and faith-based organiza­tions, the Occupy movement, and even some business groups — in defense of America’s right to vibrant public postal services.

We have done this in many separate locations, but to re­alize the true power of this grand alliance, we must do it on a coordinated national scale. And to protect jobs, we must enhance postal services. Services such as basic non-profit banking would be a real benefit to the people and an answer to the Wall Street “Banksters” who devastated our economy.

Second, we must build unity among the postal unions. We have a common foe, yet in these times of crisis we are too often working at cross purposes, sending different messages, supporting different legislation, organizing different rallies, signing different petitions — making it impossible to effectively organize the public.

Third, we must implement a nationally-coordinated plan to fight plant consolidation and its disruptive impact on postal workers and our families. Plant closures are an es­sential part of management’s plan to dismantle the Postal Service — and pave the way to turn mail processing over to Pitney Bowes with its non-union, low-paid workforce.

On the Workfloor

Fourth, and so very important to our members working day-in and day-out, we must fix many serious problems with our contract.

We must fight to restore full-time work and stop the race to the bottom. We must fight for many more conversion opportunities for our PSE brothers and sisters while protecting the retreat rights of excessed employees. We must reduce the number of non-career workers and fight for the coming generations, as all unions should.

We will only succeed if our members are involved. The next round of negotiations will be extremely difficult, but we will not negotiate from fear. We will prepare early and seek input from union members.

We Are Not Alone!

We have a long and rocky road ahead of us, but we are not alone.

In 2011, when workers in Wisconsin rose up, 100,000 strong, in defense of their union rights and union jobs, they showed that workers are willing to stand up and fight back. In 2012, when the owners of Republic Window and Doors began closing the plant, workers occupied the factory to protect their rights and benefits — and won! Later that year, the Chicago Teachers Union forged a mighty alliance between workers, parents and the community, fought the powers that be, and prevailed.

Wal-Mart workers are stirring. Fast food workers are demanding a living wage. We are not alone. A revitalized labor movement is indeed possible!

It is late in the game to save the public Postal Service, but we can save it with an unrelenting fight. Let’s stand together, unite with other postal unions and the labor movement, rally the American people in defense of their Postal Service, and stand with workers around the world in our fight for a better life!

Social Security Announces New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

Wednesday, January 15, 2014
For Immediate Release
Source:  http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/compassionate-allowances-0114-pr.html
Press/Media Contact: LaVenia J. LaVelle,Press Officer

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, today announced 25 new Compassionate Allowances conditions, including a dozen cancers, bringing the total number of conditions to 225.  The Compassionate Allowances program expedites disability decisions for Americans with the most serious disabilities to ensure that they receive their benefit decisions within days instead of months or years. The new conditions also include disorders that affect the digestive, neurological, immune, and multiple body systems.

“We are dedicated to providing vulnerable Americans with faster access to disability benefits through our Compassionate Allowances program,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin. “Social Security disability benefits are a vital lifeline for individuals who are facing severe diseases and we must ensure that they receive the benefits they rightly deserve.”

The Compassionate Allowances program identifies claims where the applicant’s disease or condition clearly meets Social Security’s statutory standard for disability. By incorporating cutting-edge technology, the agency can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances and quickly make decisions. To date, almost 200,000 people with severe disabilities have been approved through this fast-track disability process.

The Compassionate Allowances program is a significant initiative that highlights collaboration between government, medical experts, advocacy groups, and members of the public. Social Security has conducted public outreach hearings and gathered feedback from various stakeholders to identify conditions that are most likely to meet the agency’s definition of disability.

“I am extremely pleased that the SSA has included Prostate Cancer in its Compassionate Allowance list – a decision that will save lives, and give more patients access to treatment options,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD). “Working with constituents fighting this disease, I know just how life altering it can be, as well as how many will benefit from this change in policy.”

For more information on the program, including a list of all Compassionate Allowances conditions, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/compassionateallowances.

New Compassionate Allowances Conditions

  1. Angiosarcoma
  2. Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
  3. Chronic Idiopathic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction
  4. Coffin- Lowry Syndrome
  5. Esthesioneuroblastoma
  6. Giant Axonal Neuropathy
  7. Hoyeaal-Hreidarsson Syndrome
  8. Intracranial Hemangiopericytoma
  9. Joubert Syndrome
  10. Leptomeningeal Carcinomatosis
  11. Liposarcoma- metastatic or recurrent
  12. Malignant Ectomesenchymoma
  13. Malignant Renal Rhabdoid Tumor
  14. Marshall-Smith Syndrome
  15. Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumor- Grade III
  16. Pallister-Killian Syndrome
  17. Progressive Bulbar Palsy
  18. Prostate Cancer – Hormone Refractory Disease – or with visceral metastases
  19. Revesz Syndrome
  20. Seckel Syndrome
  21. Sjogren-Larsson Syndrome
  22. Small Cell Cancer of the Thymus
  23. Soft Tissue Sarcoma- with distant metastases or recurrent
  24. X-Linked Lymphoproliferative Disease
  25. X-Linked Myotubular Myopathy

Avoid chained CPI, federal employee groups urge White House

October 9, 2013

Source:  http://www.federaltimes.com
By: Sean Reilly

A coalition of federal employee, retiree and veterans groups pressed the Obama administration on Wednesday to avoid changing the government’s formula for calculating cost-of-living increases for pensions and other benefits.

“We’re all concerned about this [chained consumer price index] proposal,” Robert Silverman, president of the American Foreign Service Association, said at a news conference outside the Capitol. The union, which represents State Department diplomats, is one of several groups worried that the administration could embrace the less generous inflation measure as part of a long-term deficit reduction deal with congressional Republicans.

“It should not be a part at all of any budget negotiation,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said.

The administration proposed adopting the chained CPI in its fiscal 2014 budget request, saying that most economists agree it is a more accurate inflation gauge than the standard CPI because it accounts for consumers’ tendency to switch to cheaper items when the price of other goods rises. Over the next decade, the switch to a chained CPI would cut projected future deficits by at least $230 billion, according to the request.

But critics counter that the chained CPI doesn’t account for medical costs which make up a larger share of expenses for older people than for the population as a whole. Over time, they say, using the chained CPI to calculate cost-of-living-increases for pensions and Social Security benefits could cost recipients thousands of dollars that they would otherwise receive under the standard CPI.

On Wednesday, Schakowsky said that she didn’t know whether the White House intends to put the chained CPI on the table in any budget talks. The administration’s immediate priorities are persuading GOP lawmakers to raise the nation’s borrowing limit in time to avoid a potentially crippling default and pass the stop-gap spending resolution needed to reopen the government.

But in a Wednesday opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., called on the White House to negotiate “modest reforms” to entitlement programs and the tax code.

Outside groups are also urging all sides to look past this month’s bitter stalemate to begin tackling long-range financial challenges. On Thursday morning, for example, the bipartisan organization, No Labels, is holding an event at the Capitol with more than 40 lawmakers billed as “Stop Fighting, Start Fixing!” No Labels has not taken a position on the chained CPI, according to a spokeswoman.

Other participants in Wednesday’s news conference included Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), the Military Officers Association of America and the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.