Some Americans May Soon Be at Greater Risk of Losing Their Social Security Disability Benefits

Approximately 16 million Americans depend on Social Security Disability benefits to help make ends meet. These federal payments provide essential financial support to adults and children with physical or mental conditions that make them unable to work or engage in other gainful activities. The process for qualifying can be difficult, and many claims are initially denied, only to be approved on appeal. However, rules changes proposed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in November 2019 might make it even more difficult for some disabled recipients to keep their benefits. The SSA conducts continuing disability reviews (CDRs) of Social Security Disability beneficiaries on set schedules to determine if they are still entitled to benefits. At present, the SSA has three categories of disabilities, each with a different schedule of CDRs:

  • Medical Improvement Expected (MIE) — Every 6–18 months
  • Medical Improvement Possible (MIP) — At least once every 3 years
  • Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) — Every 5–7 years

A CDR might result in a continuation of the claim in the same category, a change to a different category or, if it finds that the beneficiary can return to gainful employment, a cessation of benefits. The proposed rule change, if adopted, would create a new category, Medical Improvement Likely (MIL), with CDRs scheduled at least once every 2 years. According to the SSA, the new category would include:

  • Specific impairments that typically do not result in irreversible structural damage to the body and are amenable to improvement with treatment, including some that currently fall into the MIE and MIP categories
  • Some cases based on the inability to adjust to other work, known as Step 5 claims, although Step 5 cases based on certain types of impairment would continue to fall into the MINE category
  • Some disabilities of children who are approaching key developmental stages of their lives, such as the transition to formal education or adolescence

The inclusion of Step 5 claimants in the MIL category is difficult to understand and troubling. They are often between 50 and 65 years of age, in poor health, without much in the way of job skills and with debilitating disabilities. There’s no evidence that their conditions are likely to improve. Forcing such claimants to go through CDRs every two years seems like an unnecessary, burdensome inconvenience for them that could result in their losing benefits they desperately need. Whether you face potential loss of Social Security Disability benefits as a result of a pending or previously conducted CDR, or you lack benefits you need, the trusted attorneys of Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. in Bristol, Tennessee will give you and your case the personalized attention and advocacy you deserve. Call our law firm at [ln::phone] or contact us online to schedule your free introductory consultation.