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Several changes underway for SSD process: Part II

Last week, we began a discussion about several significant changes that are underway at the Social Security Administration (SSA). We noted that The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece indicating that the SSA may be finally updating the grid used by administrative law judges to determine whether applicants are eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. In addition, we mentioned that the SSA will soon be proposing a rule aimed at reigning in problematic disclosure-related practices committed by attorneys and other interested parties.

The grid is not the only SSD-related reference that is being updated. Over the next several years, the SSA will be updating the so-called dictionary that vocational experts use when determining whether a SSD applicant can perform any jobs available in the applicant’s home area.

This dictionary has not been updated at all since 1991 and contains many job titles that are no longer relevant or proper when considering an applicant’s potential employment. Among the job titles listed in this outdated dictionary are “blacksmith” and “show girl.” Also, newer technology-related jobs that may actually fit the sedentary lifestyle of some applicants are not included in the dictionary.

Finally, judges involved in the SSD application and appeals processes are likely to receive lighter caseloads in the near future as well as more scrutiny and supervision. Each SSD applicant and beneficiary depends on qualified, competent and well-supervised administrative law judges to make the right decisions when it comes to their cases. Certain changes affecting these judges in the near future will hopefully better ensure that SSD-related cases are given due consideration by competent officials.

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

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