January 15, 2020

Report: SSA Moves To Tighten Eligibility For SSDI

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The Wall Street Journal reported Jan. 10, 2020, that the Trump administration and Social Security Administration (SSA) are developing a plan to change a number of rules the agency uses in determining eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The rule changes will affect older applicants in particular.

The proposal, according the media report, would reduce the role of age, education and work experience which typically are used in the evaluation process for former workers filing SSDI claims. For example, under current rules the agency adjusts some criteria for those age 50 and older, citing the challenges in one’s ability to adapt to different work or learn new skills as they age. The new plan would increase this threshold to age 55.

SSA data show 76.7% of beneficiaries are age 50 and over, while 23.3% are 49 and younger.

The new rules also would update the role of occupational skills and criteria used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility, incorporating new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The proposal, which has been attempted but, failed during previous administrations, is an effort to adapt for changes in worker demographics and jobs since the current criteria was put into place decades ago. Fewer people are working in jobs requiring extensive physical labor, more are in service industries and technology has changed how many work tasks are accomplished.

According to the report, SSA plans to release the proposed rule changes in mid-2020, at which point the public will have 60 days to comment.

Separately, the SSA has indicated it wants to eliminate an SSDI claimant’s inability to speak English as a factor in adapting to other work when determining eligibility for benefits. Another rule also has been proposed that would require earlier Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) of some applicants’ SSDI benefit once they’ve been approved and are receiving benefit income.

The Social Security Administration has not released information on the age, education and work experience provisions. Click here for more about the proposal to increase the frequency of CDRs, and also find online the rule regarding the inability to speak English.

Steve Perrigo
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Steve Perrigo

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