Anyone who has gone through the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits in California knows that it is a stressful and lengthy process. Many initial applications—as many as two-thirds– are denied and the appeals process is also time-consuming. Meanwhile, the physical or psychological suffering from the disabling condition, coupled with the financial burdens of having no paycheck or income understandably causes depression, anxiety, and stress for many applicants.
To avoid or minimize processing delays and increase the likelihood of an application or appeal being granted, many choose to hire a skilled Social Security disability benefits attorney who is familiar with and has handled many successful cases. An added incentive to do so is that there is no fee unless you win. Under Social Security Administration (“SSA”) rules, attorney compensation is based on a percentage of the final award.
Despite the often-grueling initial application process, those fortunate enough to receive disability benefits worry that they could lose them someday. Those worries have escalated with recent proposed changes to the program by the current administration.
What changes to continuing disability benefits are proposed?
The Social Security Administration is considering instituting more frequent “continuing disability reviews” of disability benefit recipients in an effort to check if their health has improved enough for them to return to work, thereby ensuring the disability benefits—which are funded by taxpayers’ contributions– go to those who deserve them. Is this an admirable goal to stop fraud and/or reduce costs or is it “a backdoor way to cutting people from the program”?
Proponents of the proposal want to weed out those who have lost their disability and are able to return to work, but haven’t attempted to do so, and they feel more frequent reviews are needed to do so effectively. They also claim the administrative costs will be more than offset by the savings anticipated by reducing the number of recipients on the program’s payroll who no longer qualify for benefits.
Critics of the new proposal understandably fear that many disability recipients who are truly disabled will lose their benefits over their inability to handle the mountains of medical and other paperwork involved in more frequent continuing disability reviews. This may be particularly difficult, if not impossible, for those with intellectual, developmental, and other mental disabilities. Many disabled people may not have the money or access to transportation to attend frequent doctor’s appointments necessary to document their continued disability and as a result may get booted from the program despite still being disabled and entitled to their benefits. In addition, while an attorney may be free for the initial application and appeal, there is no such perk built into the current proposal for recipients who are already collecting benefits and are undergoing a continuing benefits review– which is an additional financial hardship.
Contact your representatives and voice your opinion or forward it to the Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High-Rise Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.
If you have any questions regarding applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing a denial of benefits, the disability benefits attorneys of California at Roeschke Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.
From our office in Los Angeles, California, we have a long track record of helping disabled people and their families access the Social Security disability benefits they need and deserve.