SSD applicants may soon have to submit all medical information

The Social Security Administration recently announced some news that may worry some Philadelphia residents. The administration is proposing to make the rules for applying for disability benefits even stricter.

Today, most people apply for benefits by making a case for why they should be approved. This includes providing relevant medical information that speaks to their disability and inability to work. The SSA, however, is suggesting that applicants instead be required to submit all relevant medical information — even information that is not favorable to their case.

For example, consider a person who lives with a disability but is able to work part-time. This applicant may have a medical record that mentions that he or she is able to work to some extent. If the SSA’s proposal goes through, this information must be submitted with a Social Security disability application. As many people know, however, being able to only work a few hours a week hardly makes someone unworthy of assistance. It is difficult enough to provide for a family on a full-time salary, let alone part-time wages.

Of course, the SSA is quite clearly suggesting that some people lie — or fudge the truth — when submitting applications for disability benefits. Some may think this leads to people being approved for benefits unfairly. The truth is, however, that applying for disability benefits is not an easy process — and few judges ask for more information than what an applicant provides.

Perhaps the true problem lies with the Social Security disability application process, not with those who are seeking benefits. It’s no secret that administrative law judges are pressured to make quick decisions on SSD applications, and the process is so complex that many applicants are denied on their first try only to be accepted through an appeal. Hopefully the SSA will consider taking some of the responsibility rather than placing the blame and burden on those who are seeking benefits.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Social Security Proposes to Tighten Rules on Disability Appeals,” Damian Paletta, March 6, 2014

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