If you need to appeal a Social Security disability decision, you can now: File your appeal online and upload your supporting documents File your appeal even if you’re abroad and not in the United States Find a shorter appeals process online Receive quicker decisions from Social Security If you wish to submit an appeal online, be sure to provide the necessary documents to support your appeal online. Learn more about the appeals process .

Consumer Protection Bureau Advises Caution with These Loans The reverse mortgage ads you may have read or seen on TV sound like great solutions to older homeowners’ financial strain, but can you trust them? Not entirely, warns the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Many of these ads lead seniors to believe reverse mortgages are risk-free. If you’re thinking of getting a reverse mortgage, learn what the ads don’t tell you and what the risks are first. If you or a loved one already has a reverse mortgage, take these three steps to protect yourself and make a plan for the future.

From the Ford Library: A First Lady Flag After noticing the national flags flying on diplomats’ cars as they arrived at the White House as well as the American and Presidential flags displayed on the President’s car, Betty Ford had a question: “If the President gets flags, why shouldn’t the First Lady?” In answer Dick Hartwig, then the head of Mrs. Ford’s Secret Service detail, and Rick Sardo, the White House Marine Corps aide, presented her with this specially designed flag on June 24, 1975. Sarah Brinkerhoff, a friend of Hartwig, handmade the pennant for the First Lady’s limousine. Made of blue satin and trimmed in white lace with blue and red stars, the flag features a pair of red and white bloomers in the center as a play on Mrs. Ford’s maiden name, Bloomer. White text above the bloomers reads, “Don’t Tread on Me.” The letters “E.R.A.” below stand for the Equal Rights Amendment, an indication of Mrs. Ford’s strong support for the proposed amendment that would have given women equality under law through the United States Constitution. Although it had been designed for her car Mrs. Ford kept the flag on display on her desk in the East Wing. Images: Betty Ford’s “Bloomer” flag ; Betty Ford proudly displays her flag with Dick Hartwig, Rick Sardo, White House photographer David Hume Kennerly, and East Wing staff members Kaye Pullen and Carolyn Porembka on June 24, 1975 (White House photograph A5197-15A).

We have launched  beta.USA.gov  and would like your feedback! What is a beta site? A beta site is a test site. In other words, it’s a way to share a work in progress and get the feedback we need to build a more useful website. During this phase, we’ll be using your feedback to make sure we’re providing information that’s helpful and presenting it in a way that’s easy to find and read. Because the site is in beta, you may find that some features aren’t yet available. We’re working hard to put the finishing touches on the site, so please be sure to share your comments. Why are we building a new site? We want you to: Have a better experience when you visit us Get to the information and services that you need faster Please visit beta.USA.gov today, take a look at the site, and take our survey!

NHTSA’s Database Now Lists All Affected Vehicles If your vehicle is manufactured by BMW, Chrysler, Daimler Trucks, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, or Toyota, you may be affected by a recall on airbags. The recall affects nearly 34 million vehicles in the U.S. If your vehicle is manufactured by the brands listed above use the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) VIN search tool or a specific vehicle-maker’s site to confirm if you are affected by the recall. If your vehicle is listed, contact the manufacturer to find out when you can get your vehicle fixed and at no cost to you. You can also continue to check for updates on this recall or subscribe to NHTSA’s Recall Notification E-mail System.

Phony Waiting Lists Take Fees; The Real Ones Never Do If you know someone who needs public housing assistance, make sure he or she knows about the Section 8 housing scams that prey on home-seekers. The scams use websites that look like registration sites for Section 8 waiting list lotteries. They take people’s “registration fee” money, their personal information, and their chance to register for the real lottery—since these hopefuls usually don’t know they’ve been scammed until the real waiting list is closed. There is never a fee to register for a real Section 8 waiting list. To sign up for one, contact your local public housing authority . And for more information on finding an affordable home, visit our new USA.gov “beta” site —a work in progress!

If you’ve ever looked for a babysitter or worked as one, you’re probably familiar with the dozens of ways you can connect online. From message boards to sites dedicated to connecting families with childcare providers, the options are endless. However these popular sites can be used to take advantage of caregivers. Be on the lookout for scams and frauds on these sites. How will I know? Now a days most caregivers are initially contacted by potential matches online. Most people using these sites are truly looking for nannies or babysitters, but some prey on innocent caregivers. This is how a common nanny or caregiver scam happens: A person approaches you looking for a caregiver saying they do not live in the area yet, but will be moving soon. With a very convincing story, they will ask you to purchase supplies or medical equipment needed for their loved one. They will give you a check to cover the costs, but ask you to make the purchase through a third party right away. However, after making the payment, the check and the third party turn out to be fake and the transaction takes place too fast for banks to realize what’s going on. So you’re out the money before the bank realizes the check is a phony. What to do? Protect yourself. Don’t get involved in an unknown transaction and don’t send money to someone you’ve never met. Services like Western Union and MoneyGram are legitimate, but can be used illegitimately in scams like this. If you know someone tricked by this scam report it to the company: MoneyGram: 1-800-666-3947 (1-800-955-7777 for Spanish) or at moneygram.com Western Union: 1-800-448-1492 (1-800-325-4045 for Spanish) or at westernunion.com Also, report it to the Federal Trade Commission and the website where the contact occurred.

In the rise of today’s digital world where you can buy almost anything and have it delivered by the next day, it’s hard to believe there was a time when mail functioned without a ZIP code. Here’s how ZIP code was invented and how it revolutionized the U.S. Post Office: H. Bentley Hahn , the man who gave us ZIP codes With the loss of many employees from World War II and mail circulation on the rise, the U.S. Post Office was searching for ways to manage the exponentially increasing mail volume. After serving in the Air Force from 1942 to 1946, Henry Bentley Hahn, Sr., became a postal inspector for the U.S. Post Office Department. Six years later, Hahn developed a solution to the growing mail problems with the idea of a “Zone Improvement Plan,” establishing the ZIP Code and the two-letter state abbreviations. The final plan was announced to the public on November 28, 1962 and implemented on July 1, 1963. Learn more about the ZIP code implementation and check out the fully digitized H. Bentley Hahn Personal Papers now available to view from the JFK Library.

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