Acting Social Security Commissioner Martha A. McSteen notified agency offices throughout the country yesterday that more than 2 million Social Security recipients will get a benefit increase averaging $21 a month, beginning with checks received Dec. 3, because the Social Security Administration has finished posting earnings for 1982 and has recomputed benefits to reflect them.
In addition to the increase in their basic benefit, many beneficiaries are to get a one-time, retroactive payment averaging $480 based on the 1982 figures.
The December increase will be in addition to the automatic annual cost-of-living increase of 3.5 percent that all 37 million Social Security recipients are to receive in their Jan. 3 checks.
In recent years, because of problems with the SSA's antiquated computer system, the agency has fallen behind in posting earnings. When they eventually are included in each retiree's record, benefits must be adjusted. Now that the SSA has begun modernizing its computers, it is beginning to catch up on postings.
McSteen said the agency identified 2.5 million people who will receive higher benefits; 2 million of them are in the new automated system and will get their increases in December, while the remaining 500,000 will get theirs later because changes must be done by hand. Beneficiaries do not need to contact their local Social Security office in order to receive the increase. ANOTHER ROUND ON DISABILITY CASES . . .
Social Security is getting ready for the massive job of reviewing tens of thousands of cases involving disabled people previously ordered off the disability rolls. The cases are in the courts or the administrative pipeline, but must be reconsidered under rules just approved by Congress. Already there is a dispute over one issue: whether federal district courts should retain jurisdiction over cases that were before them when the law passed, to make sure that they are properly remanded to the SSA for reconsideration.
Jonathan Stein, director of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, said legal services groups fear that the agency will not do a good job of notifying everyone involved that they have the right to a review under the new rules and to receive benefits while awaiting the outcome of their case. The legal services groups want the district courts to keep jurisdiction over the cases, while the government is asking that the courts be relieved of jurisdiction. The matter is now before the Supreme Court. CHANGES ON THE BUDGET FRONT . . .
Anthony L. Itteilag, deputy assistant secretary for budget of the Department of Health and Human Services for the last four years, is leaving after the general election to become budget director for the Interior Department. A career civil servant, Itteilag has been at HHS for nine years. MEDICAID CUTS . . .
The states no longer are cutting or restricting Medicaid the way they were during the first two years of the Reagan administration, according to a survey by the Intergovernmental Health Policy Project of George Washington University.
The survey, conducted in July, found that "a reversal of those earlier trends seems to be developing. In 1983, for example, 15 states adopted policies leading to an expansion in program eligibility, and so far in 1984, nine states have expanded eligibility. Most of the recent increases have been through introduction of limited 'medically needy' programs which focus on services for pregnant women and children. Also, in 1984, 14 states either adopted a new service or reinstated a previous service which had been cut . . . ." TRETIREMENT BENEFITS . . .
The Employee Benefit Research Institute reports that, based on a May 1983 survey, 52 percent of the nation's 99 million full- and part-time civilian employes worked for an employer with a pension plan, with Delaware having the highest proportion, about 63 percent, and Arkansas the lowest, 37 percent. In the District of Columbia, about 52 percent of those surveyed worked for employers having a pension system; in Virginia, 60 percent, and in Maryland, just over 60 percent.