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SSA Tests New Models for Determining Disability in Missouri

Few people are satisfied with the Social Security Administration's process for determining disability and awarding benefits. Some may think that Social Security Disability (SSD) standards are not strict enough and discourage people from working even when they can. Those on the other side see that SSD is essential for millions of people. They argue that SSD eligibility requirements are too strict, keeping benefits from the disabled Americans who need them.

The SSA recently announced that it plans to continue testing two new models for determining disability through September 2013. The results of these tests could be used to tweak the SSA's guidelines for determining disability in the future, affecting all SSD applicants.

Cases selected for testing will go through one of two new processes for determining disability:

  • The "single decisionmaker test": Under the current process, a disability examiner must get the signature of a medical or psychological consultant before making a determination. The single decisionmaker model would allow them to make an initial decision without that approval.
  • The "prototype test": This model also allows disability examiners to make a determination without a medical consultant's signature. In addition, the prototype model would get rid of the reconsideration stage of the appeals process. The prototype test is currently being conducted on cases in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, California, and New York.

These tests could have a broad impact on SSD claimants. Allowing examiners to make disability determinations without medical consultants, for example, would give them more freedom to either approve or deny disability claims.

The prototype test model in particular would make significant changes to the SSD appeals process - an important resource for disabled applicants whose claims are initially denied. However, the reconsideration stage usually just results in a second rejection. Eliminating this stage could save claimants time and money by speeding up the process.

Do you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance?

The process of applying for disability benefits can be cumbersome and discouraging, especially if your initial claim is denied. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you meet SSD's requirements by helping you gather evidence of your disability and present your case.

Source: Wolters Kluwer, "SSA extends testing of alternative disability determination models."

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