This Wednesday, July 25, 2018, our Director of Government Affairs, Lisa Ekman, will testify before the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee at the hearing entitled “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process,” which will examine the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) recent changes to the disability appeals process and its evaluation.
The hearing will take place at 10:00am eastern time in Room 2020 of the Rayburn House Office Building, and will be live-streamed at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/event/hearing-on-examining-changes-to-social-securitys-disability-appeals-process/.
This hearing comes on the heels of a number of recent SSA changes to the rules and regulations, including a decision to reinstitute the reconsideration stage of the disability appeals process in ten states.
In her testimony, Ms. Ekman states:
The process to apply for and appeal a denial of disability benefits has become increasingly difficult for people with disabilities to navigate. Changes that make the process more formal and complicated, add more procedural rules and obligations for claimants, or appear to be inconsistent with one another (for example, requiring the submission of all evidence that relates to an individual’s disability but not allowing the evidence to be considered in most circumstances if it is not submitted by a certain date) are nearly impossible for people with disabilities to even know about, let alone understand and comply with. This is especially true for people who have intellectual, cognitive, or mental impairments. Many of these recent changes have also made the process and how the adjudicator arrived at his or her decision more opaque. It can be very difficult to appeal a denial if one doesn’t understand the rationale used to deny the claim in the first place.
The cumulative effect of all these new rules – including submission of evidence, how medical opinions are evaluated, consideration of other agencies’ determinations, the lack of transparency in ALJ decisions, reinstituting reconsideration, requiring a “single submission” appeal, and politicizing the hiring of ALJs, all with no study as to their effectiveness, might threaten the ability of claimants to find professional representation in the future.
NOSSCR continues to oppose any change to the disability adjudication process that imposes unnecessary rules and increases delays.
*Oral statement added to the press release after the time of delivery.