Proposed Change in Disability Rules Could End Benefits for Millions

Critics of a proposed change in how Social Security conducts continuing disability reviews say that if a new rule is enacted, it could result benefits being terminated for millions of people.

Currently, when an individual is approved for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, the agency puts them in one of three categories: "Medical Improvement Not Expected," "Medical Improvement Expected," and "Medical Improvement Possible."

Anyone receiving disability benefits can be required to show ongoing disability through the continuing disability review process, though this occurs less frequently depending on how Social Security classifies their condition.

First published in the Federal Register in November, a new rule would create a fourth category called "Medical Improvement Likely," which would require a continuing disability review every two years.

It's estimated that 4.4 million people, mostly children and older claimants, could fit the new classification, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In particular, it would affect many individuals over the age of 50 who are found to be disabled under Social Security's rules due to a combination of medical and vocational factors that make it easier for them to qualify for benefits.

Critics of the new rule say that it is arbitrary and not based on any medical or scientific basis. They are concerned that requiring continuing disability reviews every two years is meant merely as a hurdle to confuse disability recipients and make them give up on keeping their benefits.

The rule is not final, and the public comment period for the rule has been extended. It is now open until January 31, 2020.

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