SSD Benefits and the Numbers

The Social Security Budget was cut 10% between 2010 and 2016. The number of beneficiaries has gone up 13% in that time. This increase is mainly from Baby Boomers reaching the age of retirement.  The part of the budget that is earmarked for what Social Security calls “integrity activities” has gone up. Integrity activities include continuing disability reviews, this is for people already receiving disability benefits. These are the people who Social Security is trying to stop paying SSD benefits.

President Trump put a 90-day freeze on hiring all government employees. Last year the Social Security Administration(SSA) hired about 250 new judges but did not hire support staff for the new judges. The move in hiring more judges really didn’t accomplish anything. The current average wait time for a hearing is 560 days. What this meant is that last year over 8,000 people died before getting their Social Security hearing,  let alone their benefits.

New Rules from the SSA

Recently the SSA announced new rules for writing bench decisions. This is a decision that the Judge announces in court. This should speed things up a little bit. The SSA also changed the treating physician rule basically abolishing it. This rule states that if a claimant has a doctor who treated him for an appropriate period of time, and the doctor’s opinion was not inconsistent with other substantial evidence in the file,  the doctor’s opinions should control the decision.  The Judge would have to give that opinion controlling weight, even if the Social Security doctors disagreed. The new rule is called the “persuasiveness” of evidence rule. There is no law on the new rule,  but it probably means the Judge can decide the case based on what he believes is the most persuasive evidence when making a decision.  I am not sure this is going to make a difference at the hearing level because the judges typically cited to what persuaded them the most, and ignored treating physicians opinions,  even if there was a great opinion from a treating doctor.

SSA Rulings and Psychiatric Disorders

Another group of changes in the rules was released on January 17, 2017, relating to psychiatric disorders. It is now required that a claimant has two marked limitations in concertation, persistence, and pace, or activities of daily living or social functioning, or one impaired limitation. The SSA also enlarges the listing for autism related disorders.

In December of 2016 the Social Security administration announced a new portal where a claimant with non-medial and non-disability issues could not appeal on line. Prior to this, a person would most often have to go into the local office to appeal any not medical or non-disability issues.

Changes in Committee Personnel

The House Ways and Means Committee oversees Social Security by two sub-committees. The two subcommittees are the Social Security Subcommittee and the Human Resource Subcommittee. The House Ways and Means Committee is chaired by Texas Republican Kevin Brady. Representative Sam Johnson another Republican from Texas is the chairman of the Social Security subcommittee. The Human Resource sub-committee is now chaired by Adrian Smith a Republican from Nebraska.  

In the Senate Orin Hatch a Republican from Utah serves as the Chairman of the Senate Finance committee which oversees Social Security. The only person who I could find that serves on any Social Security committee from Illinois is Danny Davis a Democrat from Illinois.  

Are you applying for SSD Benefits or have you been denied? Consider the Law Office of Neil H. Good for your representation. Call #(847) 577-4476 for a complimentary case evaluation or contact us online.