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Closer look at big proposed change to Social Security Disability

Everyone who reads or watches the news knows that the current political landscape is chaotic. While we don’t make political comments in our Raleigh legal blog, there are some issues that merit attention, even though they have political overtones.

One of those issues is a recent Trump administration proposal to increase case reviews of people who are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. At first glance, the proposal might well seem harmless to many. After all, they might well reason, it’s no great burden for the government to check in and see if those who are receiving SSD benefits remain unable to work.

Advocates for disabled Americans are not convinced that the proposal is harmless, however. An attorney who helps people apply for benefits said, “We think the real intent of this is just to be a backdoor cut to the program.”

While filling forms, visiting doctors, obtaining medical documentation and so on might not be a big burden for a healthy person, those who are receiving SSD are, by definition, physically or mentally limited by illness or injury.

The proposal would require some SSD recipients to go through a case review every two years, with administrative and paperwork hurdles to complete just to keep the benefits they depend on.

The executive director of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives said that kind of hurdle – and accompanying threat of losing benefits and health care – would be stressful for anyone, it will be “more difficult, stressful, and time-consuming for disability beneficiaries, who as a group are older, poorer, and sicker than the general population.”

Many receiving SSD struggle daily with not only paying bills needed to keep the lights on and food on the table, but also have physical or intellectual limitations on obtaining documents outside their homes, completing and submitting complex paperwork, and coping with the stress of possibly losing critical aid.

The Social Security Administration is accepting public comments on the proposal through the end of January. No matter your position on the proposed SSD revision, it is always a good idea to weigh in on changes to government that could have a dramatic impact on your life.

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