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Are Social Security Disability Standards Easy to Meet?

The argument that Social Security Disability (SSD) standards have become lax may be popular, but it is mistaken. In fact, the U.S. SSD standards are stricter than those in most other western countries.

This blog post is meant to address the concerns that SSD is not strict enough and to defend a system that helps millions of disabled people get by when they can no longer work. If you are disabled or have an illness that keeps you out of work, you may qualify for SSD, even under the current standards. Having a Social Security Disability lawyer on your side can help you meet SSD's definition of disability by presenting evidence of your disability and its impact on your daily life.

Changes to SSD

There have certainly been changes to the SSD standards over the last few decades; however, as Jon Dubin and Robert Rains mention in their article for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, Scapegoating Social Security Disability Claimants, "Virtually every amendment to the Social Security Act in the past forty-five years and virtually every recent regulatory change, have rendered the substantive disability standards more strict." The only exceptions are parts - and only parts - of the 1984 Disability Benefits Reform Act.

For example, over the last four decades:

  • Benefits for people who are alcoholics and drug addicts have disappeared.
  • SSD standards for certain medical conditions have become more severe, including standards for rheumatological disorders and HIV.
  • Most immigrants are no longer able to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Individuals can no longer apply for SSD based solely on obesity and diabetes.

The great majority of people who receive SSD are seriously disabled. Many people who receive SSD die two years after they begin receiving benefits and some do not even see their first check. Furthermore, the majority of people who do not receive benefits are unable to return to work because of their disabilities and must simply go without those benefits, even if they have paid into the system.

Now is not the time to make SSD any tougher for individuals with legitimate claims.

Source: American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, v. 34, No. 3, "Scapegoating Social Security Disability Claimants," Jon C. Dubin & Robert E. Rains, Mar. 2012.

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