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Should you worry about proposed cuts to Social Security?

The newest federal budget proposal, once again, takes aim at Social Security reform.

Retirees, you generally don’t have a lot to be concerned about — although the agency has gradually been increasing the age at which you can retire with full benefits to reflect increasing lifespans (and save money).

Disability applicants and recipients may have a little more concern. To be sure, it’s an election year and any cuts to Social Security are likely to be viewed darkly during a time of economic recession. There’s a good chance that none of the proposed measures will pass.

If they do, however, one of the biggest changes will affect Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) applicants who became disabled well before they finally filed a claim.

Currently, SSA recognizes that most people are reluctant to actually file a disability claim until they’ve thoroughly exhausted their other options and have given up hope of a successful recovery from their injuries or illness. The existing rules allow a “look back” period of up to 12 months prior to a claimant’s protected filing date (which is generally the date of their disability application). If the agency or Administrative Law Judge determines that a disability started 12 months or so before the applicant filed for benefits, it can retroactively award benefits for that year.

If the new budget is approved as-is, that look-back period would be cut in half. (This also potentially cuts into the payment that disability attorneys may receive for assisting with a claim. That could, indirectly, make it harder for claimants to find the experienced help they need.)

Now, more than ever, it’s wise to have an attorney on your side whenever you have a complicated claim involving retirement, survivors or disability insurance (RSDI) benefits.

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