SSA Looks To Increase Continuing Disability Reviews To Save Money, But At What Cost? sponsored by Todd Carmack
As per Todd Carmack In the fall of last year, the Social Security Administration (SSA) publicly made propositions on making some changes to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance programs.
Both of these social programs are based on the idea that citizens that are not able to have a job because of a disability, injury, or illness have the right to live their lives, which they need money to do for basic living such as food and shelter.
One change that has been suggested by the SSA is that some people participating in SSI and SSDI would have to go through a periodic evaluation to show that their situation has not improved. Others will also need to partake in a continuing disability review for those that have been diagnosed as medically disabled.
The forum for public feedback and comment was closed on the 31st of this past January. This may signify that these new changes may be found in the federal register this year.
The SSA states that they would like to ensure that the program stops the distribution of these benefits when the participants show improvement in their condition.
They believe that increasing the amount of continuing disability reviews (CDRs) to 18% will save $2.6 billion from 2020 to 2029.
However, those that know the processes of these continuing disability reviews counter that increasing these reviews will push more people with disabilities out of the program due to a lack of aid in the process rather than discovering many that have improved in health. They also state that more frequent reviews will be an unneeded hassle for the disabled as CDRs are already done with opinions based on medical evidence.
At this moment, according to the SSA, $1 towards continuing disability reviews saves $19.90 for the program. However, the SSA states that in the estimation, these increases in reviews would only save $1.40 for each $1 expended. This means that efficiency would be decreased.
Todd Carmack said because most of the disabled have to go through CDRs without any legal assistance, some end up losing their benefits to the burdensome process. When legal aid is provided, it can take anywhere from 20 to 80 hours of assistance.
The commencing paperwork that is necessary to be filled out in a review can be up to 15 questions and must be sent back via the postal service within a set timeframe.
This deadline to complete and send out in the mail can often be a difficulty for those participants that have a disability, which involves issues with cognition, memory, and other limitations with behavior.
There are also situations where participants are in the hospital and being treated for severe health conditions that prevent them from answering the CDR in time. Also, there are times where the recipient does not even receive the CDR paperwork even though they have not changed their address.
In the scenario where the SSA cannot come to an answer due to not enough proof, the participant being reviewed must ask that their benefits be maintained within ten days as the CDR goes into further investigation.
A CDR has the participant provide new medical information that shows that their health condition has improved, gotten worse, or has not changed. If the participant’s doctor or doctors do not send their medical records in time, the patient’s benefits can be canceled. They can also lose their benefits even if the doctor does not provide enough information.
Another way the benefits can be canceled is due to little flubs. The SSA can also request for the participant’s medical history at their request, and if they send the request to the doctor’s personal address rather than where they work, the paperwork may not be handled. This can lead up to the termination of these benefits if the second request isn’t answered.
For many, this may be their only income stream, which can lead to unfortunate financial circumstances for them.
So how does it affect you if you’re healthy without any debilitating issues?
Though there are citizens that have had their disabilities pretty much their entire lives, a good number of people end up with disabilities in their 50s and 60s due to many years worked or to a specific incident that happened in the workplace.
Over one out of four workers that are considered young will be eligible for SSDI before they are of the minimum retirement age. Individuals that are age 30 to 34 and 60 to 66 are more likely to be recipients of disability benefits 14 folds than the average American.
Being qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance is limited according to the statistics: 77% of applicants will be denied, and 12% of that group will be accepted to be recipients due to an appeal or a rereview.
Aside from monetary benefits, another reason it is critical for many of the older generations to be able to qualify and keep their SSDI is because they are also able to receive Medicare, no matter their age, after two years of receiving their disability benefits. Not having Medicare can be dire for those that are too ill to work and do not have a workplace medical plan as the medical expenses may be unaffordable.
If CDRs increase, which will also increase the number of disabled individuals being pushed off their benefits, they will also lose their Medicare plan as the eligibility for this program is linked with SSDI. This can be a life or death situation for some.
Under their new proposals, the SSA also intends to focus on increasing CDRs for the elderly that have a “step five” disability. A judge can decide a step five disability once they have looked over the individual’s work history and their physical restrictions. They will determine them as step five if they believe the individual is not able to be employed.
A step five will generally be aged between 50 and 70 and will have worked manual labor in fields such as construction or mechanics. They are no longer able to work in this line of work due to a medical condition. They may be able to work an office job, but due to their inexperience at a desk job along with their age, the judge can decide if the person would not be someone that employers would find hirable.
Judges can only make this determination based on the individual’s age and how much education they achieved academically. As per Todd Carmack age can be a significant factor as age discrimination is quite an issue for the older generations.
According to an attorney at Prairie State Legal Services, Linda Rothnagel, she believes this specific focus on step five participants is of concern and that it may be discrimination due to age being a factor to being eligible for the step five determination. And usually, with old age, medical conditions tend to decline even more so.
As per Todd Carmack it seems that if these new rules do go through, there will be some disabled Americans that will suffer from this change.