Proposed Rule Changes Would Increase Review of Disability Cases

Recipients of disability benefits are occasionally subjected to what are known as Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to determine whether or not they are still disabled and entitled to disability benefits pursuant to the Social Security Act. These reviews are critical and an individual can lose benefits simply by failing to reply or missing deadlines to respond to notifications. Currently, when individuals are awarded disability benefits, they are lumped into one of three categories with the Social Security Administration. These categories determine the timeframe for a disability review. The current categories are "Medical Improvement Expected". Individuals placed in this category are typically reviewed 6-18 months after they are granted disability benefits. Individuals in the "Medical Improvement Possible" category have their cases reviewed every 3 years, while individuals in the "Medical Improvement Not Expected" are typically reviewed every 5-7 years. A new rule promulgated by the Social Security Administration would create a 4th category known as "medical improvement likely" which would subject individuals in this category to review every 2 years.

Analysts believe that the proposed new rule would subject many older disability recipients to the scrutiny of a continuing disability review. As such, it has not gone without criticism. According to Newsweek, more than 140 lawmakers in the House and Senate have signed an open letters pushing back at the Administration proposal. The letter argues that the SSA has failed to establish why there is a need for the proposed changes and has failed to fully evaluate the effects the proposed rule would have on beneficiaries. Moreover, on January 13, 2020, the Ways and Means Committee Chairman and subcommittee chairs issued a statement critical of the proposed rule changes.

Proposed federal agency rules are subject to a period of public comment from individuals. Currently, there have been over 85,000 comments about the rule change at Regulation.gov.

The proposed changes to the frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews is just one of several changes proposed or floated by the current Administration that could adversely impact disability recipients and applicants.

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