Archive for February, 2012

Mistakes with Reporting Social Security Disability Income Can Be Costly at Tax Time, Allsup Finds

(Source: Chron)

Lump-sum SSDI awards for new beneficiaries require special attention; Allsup outlines other cost-saving tax tips.

More than 1 million people with severe disabilities became beneficiaries under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program last year. But many of them are likely to improperly report their SSDI payments on their income tax returns, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance representation and Medicare plan selection services.

“It can take months and sometimes years to receive Social Security disability benefits. So, many people receive a one-time, lump-sum amount that includes back payments,” said Paul Gada, a tax attorney and personal financial planning director for the Allsup Disability Life Planning Center. “One of the most frequent questions we receive from claimants at this time of year is whether SSDI benefits are taxable and how to report lump-sum payments on their tax return.”

Up to 50 percent of Social Security disability benefits are taxable each year. The actual amount is determined by adding one-half of the taxpayer’s SSDI benefits to all of his or her other income sources. For 2011, a federal income tax return must be filed if gross income is at least $19,000 for couples filing jointly and $9,550 for individuals.


Racism Allegations Force Buchanan Out of Job

(Source: KOLO News)

NEW YORK (AP) – MSNBC dropped conservative commentator Pat Buchanan on Thursday [Feb. 16], four months after suspending him following
the publication of his latest book.

The book “Suicide of a Superpower” contained chapters titled “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.” Critics called the book racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic, charges Buchanan denied.

Click here to find out more!MSNBC President Phil Griffin said last month that he didn’t think Buchanan’s book “should be part of the national dialogue, much less part of the dialogue on MSNBC.”

The network said on Thursday that “after 10 years, we have decided to part ways with Pat Buchanan. We wish him well.”


DA plans no charges on abortion records shredding

(Source: The Witchita Eagle)

TOPEKA — An outside investigation has determined that the Kansas Attorney General’s Office didn’t shred documents from a Planned Parenthood clinic when it destroyed abortion records in April 2009, raising questions about a county prosecutor’s statements that had prompted the dismissal of some criminal charges against the clinic.

None of the destroyed documents was “connected in any way” with Planned Parenthood, which performs abortions at its clinic in Overland Park, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor said Friday. The attorney general’s office asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to investigate the shredding and turn its findings over to Taylor.

The request came after Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told a judge last fall that the attorney general’s office destroyed documents it had from Planned Parenthood, hindering the prosecution of its clinic. In November, the judge dismissed 49 of 107 charges against the clinic, including the most serious ones that accused it of falsifying reports to the state on abortions it performed in 2003.


Being a pill about the pill? Santorum vs US views

(Source: Associated Press)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Most Americans don’t share Rick Santorum’s absolutist take on abortion. He’s out of step on women in combat. He questions the values of the two-thirds of mothers who work. He’s even troubled by something as commonplace as birth control — for married couples.

Even among a Republican presidential field eager to please religious conservatives, Santorum’s ideas stand out.

A Catholic father of seven whose kids are home-schooled, Santorum may seem to wear his conservatism as comfortably as his sweater vests. But he’s walked a careful path, keeping the more provocative opinions that helped sink his re-election to the Senate in 2006 mostly out of his presidential campaign.

That is until he leaped to the top of the polls, alongside Mitt Romney.

Now Santorum’s record on social issues is getting a closer look. On several matters, he’s outside the Republican mainstream. And if he becomes the GOP nominee, some of his ideas would probably be surprising, even puzzling, to general election voters.


Writing for a Sexist World

(Source: Patheos)

Dear Jana and Lauren,

Thank you, Jana, for starting this conversation about whether writers, who are women and who are feminist, have a responsibility to write overtly feminist books—and thank you, Lauren, for pointing out that simply being a woman who writes, especially a woman who writes about religion, is in and of itself a feminist act.

I am working now on an article for the Harvard Divinity Bulletin about how women’s memoirs are received and reviewed, and during my research, I read Francine Prose’s “Scent of a Woman’s Ink” in Harpers, which was written in 1998 but is, unfortunately, still relevant. She’s asking questions that, I think, are driving the conversation we are having here: What is a “woman writer”—and does that question make sense at all?

Prose quotes Norman Mailer’s Advertisements for Myself (originally published in 1959) at length, and I will share a small sample here:

I have a terrible confession to make—I have nothing to say about any of the talented women who write today. Out of what is no doubt a fault of mine, I do not seem able to read them. Indeed I doubt there will be a really exciting woman writer until the first whore becomes a call girl and tells her tale.

And Mailer goes on from there, describing the “sniffs” he gets from “the ink of women”—sniffs that smell to him like “old hat,” sniff that are “dykily psychotic,” “crippled,” “creepish, “frigid,” and “stillborn.” Mailer ends his rant with this little gem: “a good writer can do without everything but the remnant of his balls.”

Good to know.


Disability group asks judges to reconsider special-needs lawsuit decision

(Source: Journal Sentinel Online)

A disability advocacy group that lost its special-education lawsuit against Milwaukee Public Schools three weeks ago when a federal appeals court panel ruled in favor of the district is now asking for all the judges at the court to review the decision.

Disability Rights Wisconsin filed a petition Friday that asked all the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges in Chicago to re-hear the decision made by a three-judge panel on Feb. 3. The group says that the decision conflicts with how the Seventh Circuit has interpreted and decided other similar cases.

Specifically, the decision of the three-judge panel decertified the class in the 11-year-old class-action lawsuit and also vacated the liability and remedial orders that the school district was obligated to follow.


Growing class gaps weaken social bonds

(Source: Truman State University Index)

America’s social fabric — long maintained through common ideals and purposes — is fraying at the edges.

Monstrous social pressures tug at the threads that bind our families, communities and classes together, according to social scientist Charles Murray. In Murray’s new book, “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” he tells the story of this great unraveling and of the dangerously wide gap between the white lower- and upper-classes.

Unfortunately, Murray’s ideology prohibits him from granting the government any kind of role in the rescue effort. While disadvantaged Americans plead for help from the bottom of a hole we’ve been digging for 50 years, Murray reminds the upper classes it is their duty to foster virtue among the poor. Instead of a life preserver, Murray tosses the impoverished lessons about diligence.


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