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Several changes underway for SSD process: Part I

The federal government consistently revises its policies and procedures. Much of this regulatory and legal evolution does not dramatically impact the general public. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is currently revising its application and qualification policies and procedures for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Unlike other procedural changes, these have the ability to significantly impact an untold number of Americans who would like to apply for or remain qualified beneficiaries of SSD payments.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the SSA may be in the process of updating the grid used by administrative law judges who oversee SSD applications. The grid allows judges to better determine whether someone is or is not a qualified SSD applicant based on factors including age, educational status, job skills and health conditions. Because this grid is so critical to SSD determinations, it is important that the grid accurately reflects who should or should not be granted benefits. However, it has not been updated in some time and does not always accurately predict who should and should not be granted SSD beneficiary status.

In addition, agency officials have indicated within the past two months that the SSA will be proposing a rule in the near future that deals with problematic disclosure issues. Though the media is still unsure of what the rule will entail, its aims will focus on preventing legal representatives, firms and other interested parties from withholding critical information pertaining to SSD applications and claims.

A number of other changes are underway for SSD policies and procedures that will likely affect beneficiaries and applicants alike. Please check back next week as we continue our discussion on these important issues.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Six Changes Social Security is Making to its Disability Program,” Damian Peletta, Dec. 26, 2013

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