Recent proposed cuts to disability benefits announced by the White House Administration consist of new rules that would govern the Social Security Disability program, impacting tens of thousands of recipients. The new proposed rules would add more stringent verification requirements in the form of more frequent paperwork checks of those who receive benefits. This increased checking process would be referred to as a Continuing Disability Review.
The proposed new rules
Under this new proposed system, individuals who receive Social Security Disability benefits would need to submit various documents to the SSA, including income, medical, and asset records, including documents about living arrangements. An SSA staff person would then review this information and decide on whether the individual can continue receiving his or her benefits.
How often these reviews are conducted will depend on the category in which the person on disability benefits is placed. Individuals with conditions that are considered likely to improve would go under review every two years. Those with conditions that have the possibility of improvement would go under review every three years. Those with terminal or debilitating illnesses would go under review every 5 to 7 years. Children who are the recipients of disability benefits would undergo reassessment at ages six and 12.
Advocates of the Social Security changes
Proponents of the Socials Security Disability program changes include U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which conducts oversight over the Social Security Administration. Kelly and other supporters of the changes focus on the need to maintain the integrity and solvency of the Social Security program.
As Rep. Kelly stated, “Hardworking American taxpayers and businesses who fund the program deserve effective oversight of the money they contribute. The proposal to allow for more regular review of disability claims is the right one, because it will help the Social Security Administration protect against waste, fraud and abuse while ensuring that those in need receive the proper benefits.”
Critics of the proposed changes
Some who advocate strongly for individuals with disabilities have been shocked by these new proposed changes. They claim that the new requirements are simply a stealth way for the current Administration to cut individuals from a program that already leaves disabled individuals waiting for multiple years in many cases to qualify for and receive their benefits.
Currently, more than 16 million adults and children currently receive disability benefits (SSDI and SSI). The agency expects to perform about 4.4 million more continuing disability reviews over the next decade. The additional administrative costs to conduct interviews are expected to be $1.6 billion in order to trim $2.8 billion in benefits obtained by people no longer qualifying for the program. According to those who advocate for people with disabilities, this will translate into tens of thousands of disabled individuals losing their current benefits.
The controversy over the proposed SSD changes
A significant point of controversy over the new proposed SSD rules is the added complexity and time consumption involved for individuals with disabilities who will have to submit large volumes of paperwork.
There is also a concern among many regarding the feasibility of increasing the quantity of reviews. Greater numbers of reviews translates into doctors involved in the review process having to review a greater number of case files in the same or shorter amount of time. With this type of time pressure, the possibility of wrongfully rejected claims increases.
If you are having difficulty securing the Social Security Disability benefits you have applied for, or if your benefits were unjustly terminated, our SSDI and SSI attorneys at the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm are here to help. We can work relentlessly on your behalf to help you secure the Social Security Disability benefits you deserve. We fight for clients throughout the state of Tennessee with offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Knoxville. To arrange a free consultation, call us today at 615.425.2500 or leave us a message through our contact form.