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  • Problematic Changes in Social Security Benefits

    Although a new bill was recently proposed that could result in people losing their Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, few have noticed. The current administration first proposed the bill, which would allow the government to decide whether or not individuals already awarded SSDI benefits still qualify as “disabled”, in November. Current rules require individuals to demonstrate their disability every three to seven years, but under new guidelines the reviews would be much more frequent and could result in injured individuals unfairly losing benefits.

    Very often, recipients of social programs like Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are labeled as “takers” or people just do not want to work. But that is not true – approximately 8 million Americans receive disability benefits because of an onset of a serious and debilitating disability that renders them unable to be gainfully employed. Social security benefits are not easy to get. The reality is, the majority of requests (approximately 67%) are denied.

    What Does the Government Consider a “Disability?”

    According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a disability is defined as: “the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of no less than twelve months,” or blindness. The SSA reports that just over one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will be disabled before they reach the age of 67.

    Although there are many different types of disabilities and impairments that qualify for SSDI or SSI, some examples include:

    • Cancer,
    • Mental disorders such as anxiety, autism, depression, and intellectual disorders,
    • Kidney disease,
    • Immune system disorders, which includes lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and HIV/AIDs (and more),
    • Asthma and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), as well as other respiratory disorders and illnesses,
    • Cardiovascular conditions like coronary artery disease or heart failure,
    • Musculoskeletal problems,
    • Digestive track disorders like irritable bowel disease and ulcerative colitis, and:
    • Speech and sense issues, like vision or hearing loss

    According to lawmakers who are against the new proposal, they worry the regulations would affect hundreds of thousands of SSDI and SSI recipients and result in the termination of benefits for tens of thousands. While the SSA says the proposal could save $2 billion in just over ten years, the administration has failed to comment on how the new rules would affect individuals who depend on their benefits to survive.

    More Issues with the New Proposal

    There are many reasons that the current administration’s new proposal is problematic for SSI and SSDI recipients. According to the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), here are just a few examples of ways the proposal will negatively impact millions of disabled individuals:

    • Although the SSA estimates that it will take individuals only 60 minutes to fill out their CDR (continuing disability review) paperwork, it can take much longer for people who struggle to complete seemingly “simple” tasks,
    • CDR paperwork is notoriously difficult for lay persons to understand,
    • Recipients sometimes lose current benefits while filing CDR decision appeals,
    • Difficulties getting legal representation can occur, since SSI and SSDI benefits are not as straightforward as benefits in regular cases, and:
    • Sometimes claimants must pay out of pocket for medical opinions

    The new rule would not become official until the administration releases the final version – and so far, no date has been set for one. We will continue to update this story as it develops, but if you have questions or concerns about your current benefits or need help learning more about how to apply for social security benefits, please contact a representative at our firm directly. We can help.

    Philadelphia Social Security Disability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Injured Individuals

    Galfand Berger has offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading our attorneys serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.