Social Security Disability and SSI are likely to see some changes in the future in order to provide the program with the solvency it needs to take care for those who need the benefits to survive. However, some proposed changes to the program would significantly harm deserving claimants and only add more expense and confusion to an already confusing system. Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has proposed a plan that would supposedly save $3 trillion from entitlement plans. Listed below are some of his "reforms" with some brief comments in italics from this author. Please check back in the next few weeks to see more of Senator Coburn's wonderful ideas and their common sense results.
- Require SSA to redirect a portion of funds used for processing applications to performing continuing disability reviews (CDRs) and SSI redeterminations. Practical result: increased processing times for folks at the initial application stage and more time and money spent reviewing cases that do not need to be reviewed. I recently had a CDR on a claimant that turned 62 during the CDR and had a combination of cancer, heart disease, and orthopedic problems. Sure, the cancer was in remission, but the heart disease and orthopedic problems, the ALJ found, more than qualified him for SSD.
- Eliminate the medical improvement standard in CDRs. Translation: Make it easier to arbitrarily kick people off disability. The government knows that if they kick off a lot of people, some will be so discouraged as to not appeal for sometime thus saving some money. It makes no sense whatsoever to kick someone off disability without proof that their disabling impairments have improved. It will also increase the amount of appeals arising out of CDRs thus actually increasing the workload of the SSA. Increasing the workload will not save money.
- Eliminate benefits pending through the ALJ level in medical CDRs. Translation: Hurt those most in need who have already proven they are unable to work. Currently, beneficiaries receive benefits pending appeal of a denial at CDR as long as the denial is perfected within 10 days of receipt. This proposed change, which actually would be good for claimant's representative because it would make it easier for us to get paid, would leave those who have depended on disability payments and medical insurance suddenly and with very little warning without desperately needed support. Senator Coburn also probably figures that without the previously provided Medicare or Medicaid benefits that the claimant would have a more difficult time proving continuing disability, thus resulting in more denials. This is a very sinister and mean spirited proposal.
Please return next week for more proposals from Senator Coburn.
The bottom line theme is suspicion of those on disability and placing more hurdles to receiving and continuing to receive Social Security Disability and/or SSI benefits.
If you need more information about a personal injury matter (car wreck, boating accident, slip and fall, etc.), SSD/SSI matter, EEOICPA claim, or a workers compensation matter, please contact the Law Offices of Tony Farmer and John Dreiser for a free case evaluation. We can be reached at (865) 584-1211 or (800) 806-4611 or through our website at www.farmerdreiser.com.