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January’s unemployment rate was 9%, and that means that there are a lot of Americans who still need jobs. The local paper is a good way to find jobs close to home, and these days many jobs are posted online. Don’t forget that there are lots of government jobs out there too.  If you’re looking for a job or an internship with the federal government, you’ll find all federal job openings announced to the public at USAJOBS. Check out your state job bank for even more job opportunities in your area. If you need a job-seeking advice, look up your local Department of Labor office and see what services they offer to job seekers in your area.

And if the job sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Be aware of job scams.

During Women’s History Month, learn about influential women in American history, including military veterans, musicians, and a former First Lady.

Broken heartValentine’s Day is just around the corner. For me, that means I’ll be receiving a prank Valentine card in the mail from my mom, which was supposedly sent by one of the guys that I knew in my teen years. Despite her attempts to disguise her handwriting, I always know they are from her. As usual, I laugh at the card and she denies any wrongdoing. What a fraud.

Unfortunately, there are more serious frauds that are no laughing matter.  Have you heard of the term “sweetheart scam ”? It’s a term that refers to a situation where a scammer acts as if they are interested in developing a romantic relationship with you. They spend time with you (generally on online dating sites) and develop an emotional connection; however, their only intention is to take your money. Some signs to watch out for include: Read the rest of this entry »

downed power linesJust a few weeks ago, I wrote a post about not being caught off-guard in summer storms. Sometimes I need to learn to take my own advice.

This past Sunday a wicked thunderstorm tore through the Maryland, DC and Virginia area. There were tornado warnings in some areas and, though I don’t think any funnel clouds were actually spotted, the storm left quite a mess to clean up.

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Airline travel has gotten so complicated.  Security lines are long; there are extra fees for baggage; adults need to keep out their federal or state-issued ID through the checkpoint; and there are restrictions on what can be carried onto the flight.  The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) website is the first place to go to find out the truth about these restrictions.

Here are three things you can’t carry on to your flight: Read the rest of this entry »

Arlene Hernandez is the manager of Kids.gov, the government’s official source for kids to find all kinds of government information.

When I was a teenager and hanging out at the mall, I used to see young kids whaling and crying and throwing a fit at the toy store.  I would think “Geez, what’s up with that kid?” and I probably rolled my eyes.

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National Institutes of Health scientists have discovered that the activation of immune cells called basophils causes kidney damage in a mouse model of lupus nephritis. These findings and the team’s associated research in humans may lead to new treatments for this serious disease, a severe form of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) that affects the kidneys and is difficult to treat.

Kids in poolWhen I was a little kid I can remember my mom warning me not to swim too close to the drains in pools and not to put my head under the water in hot tubs. She was concerned that my ponytail would get caught and I would drown.

I always thought that was a little morbid. I was just a kid and wanted to have fun.

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Once you decide that you want prescription drug coverage, think about what matters most to you. There are a range of plan options available, so you can focus on the kind of coverage you prefer. There are two ways you can get your Medicare drug coverage.You can add drug coverage to the traditional Medicare plan through a “stand alone” prescription drug plan.

Or you can get drug coverage and the rest of your Medicare coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, like an HMO or PPO, that typically provides more benefits at a significantly lower cost through a network of doctors and hospitals. No matter what type of plan you choose, you can choose a plan that reflects what you want in terms of cost, coverage and convenience. Read the rest of this entry »

Now, you can help someone you care about apply for Extra Help with their Medicare prescription drug plan costs. Anyone who has Medicare can get Medicare prescription drug coverage. Some people with limited resources and income also are eligible for Extra Help to pay for the costs—monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and prescription co-payments—related to a Medicare prescription drug plan. The Extra Help is estimated to be worth an average of $3,900 per year.

Many people qualify for these big savings and don’t even know it. To find out if someone is eligible, Social Security will need to know the value of their savings, investments and real estate (other than their home), and their income. If they are married and living with their spouse, we will need this information for both of them.

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How will Electronic Records Express affect my work routines?

The fax and secure website options should integrate easily with existing work processes. If your records are already electronic, you will be able to upload files directly instead of printing. If your records are on paper, you can use the website by scanning, instead of photocopying your records or you can fax your records. 

Why is the letter with the barcode so important?

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SSA needs information about work that exists throughout the nation to determine whether claimants’ impairments prevent them from doing not only their past work, but any other work in the U.S. economy. SSA uses the DOT and its companion volume, the Selected Characteristics of Occupations (SCO), as the primary sources of information about jobs and job requirements. However, the Department of Labor last updated the DOT in 1991 and has no plans to conduct further updates. As a result, OPDR is developing short and long term strategies to obtain updated occupational information used in disability evaluation.

The short-term project consists of two parts: 1) Acquire existing, updated occupational information in a format consistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), and 2) Obtain the services of an Independent Evaluator who will assess the accuracy and reliability of this occupational information. The goal of the short-term project is to provide SSA with updated occupational information that will be formatted in a manner consistent with the format and definitions found in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). This updated occupational information will provide disability adjudicators with updated occupational information that can be seamlessly incorporated into SSA’s disability adjudication process while long-term solutions are developed.

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The ADA specifically permits testing for illegal drug use. Drug tests are not regarded as medical examinations for employment purposes. Companies may elect to apply these tests to applicants or employees. The ADA specifically acknowledges that certain occupations, such as those in the transportation industry, may require such testing to ensure the welfare of the public. The ADA does not recognize a person who actively abuses illegal substances as having a disability. Applicants or employees abusing illegal drugs are not protected by the ADA on the basis of the drug use. A company may impose penalties on these employees and not be charged with discrimination.

Proposed Rule for Payment under the Ambulance Fee Schedule (AFS) published 5/26/06 (See AFS Regulations and Notices link.) Section 4531 (b) (2) of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 added a new section 1834 (l) to the Social Security Act which mandated the implementation of a national fee schedule for ambulance services furnished as a benefit under Medicare Part B. The fee schedule is effective for claims with dates of service on or after April 1, 2002, and it applies to all ambulance services, including volunteer, municipal, private, independent, and institutional providers, i.e., hospitals, critical access hospitals (except when it is the only ambulance service within 35 miles), and skilled nursing facilities.

Section 1834 (l) also requires mandatory assignment for all ambulance services. Ambulance providers and suppliers must accept the Medicare allowed charge as payment in full and not bill or collect from the beneficiary any amount other than any unmet Part B deductible and the Part B coinsurance amounts.

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Instructions on the Submission of OPPS ASP Data for Nonpass-Through Separately Payable Therapeutic Radiopharmaceuticals and Radiopharmaceuticals with Pass-Through Status. CMS has posted guidance for manufacturers who will be submitting ASP for radiopharmaceuticals in CY 2010.  These instructions can be viewed by clicking on the document.  Please note that in light of the imminent deadline for submitting ASP data for OPPS payment beginning on January 1, 2010, we encourage manufacturers wishing to submit ASP data for the January 2010 OPPS update to contact us immediately through the OPPS mailbox at OutpatientPPS@cms.hhs.gov (see Related Links Inside CMS below) so we can facilitate the submission process.

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Many seniors do not receive recommended preventive and primary care, leading to less effective and more expensive treatments. For example, 20 percent of women aged 50 and over did not receive a mammogram in the past two years, and 38 percent of adults aged 50 and over have never had a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Seniors in Medicare must pay 20 percent of the cost of many preventive services on their own. For a colonoscopy that costs $700, this means that a senior must pay $140 — a price that can be prohibitively expensive. Under health insurance reform, a senior would not pay anything for a screening colonoscopy or other preventive services. Reform will eliminate any deductibles, copayments, or other cost-sharing for obtaining preventive services, making them affordable and accessible.

Source: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/09/20090923b.html

The federal government pays private insurance companies on average 14 percent more for providing coverage to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries than it would pay for the same beneficiary in the traditional Medicare program. There is no evidence that this extra payment leads to better quality for Medicare beneficiaries, and all Medicare beneficiaries pay the price of these excessive overpayments through higher premiums — even the 78 percent of seniors who are not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. A typical couple in traditional Medicare will pay on average nearly $90 next year to subsidize private insurance companies that do not provide their Medicare benefits. Health insurance reform will eliminate excessive government subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans, which could save the federal government, taxpayers, and Medicare beneficiaries well over $100 billion over the next 10 years.

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