A short while ago, this blog discussed the importance of understanding the application process to seek disability benefits afforded by government programs. The Social Security disability or SSD claims process can be challenging and the challenges may have just become greater thanks to a new rule change. The recent changes eliminate the rule referred to as the treating-physician rule. This rule provided weight to a physician’s report that was included as part of a disability application.
The old rule required that significant weight be placed on a physician’s report that was included along with the disabled individual’s claim for SSD benefits. Those reviewing the applicant’s claim for benefits are no longer required to give the same weight to the physician’s report. In addition, determinations of disability from other agencies, such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, will also no longer receive added weight from reviewers.
Social Security disability benefits are based on the disabled individual’s inability to work due to a physical or mental medical condition that is expected to last greater than 12 months or result in death. Applicants for SSD benefits must also have sufficient work history to qualify to receive benefits. The process of applying for benefits can be complicated and there are several levels of appeals disabled individuals should be familiar with, as most initial claims for benefits are denied.
The Social Security Administration reports that the number of disabled individuals receiving benefits has declined for the first time in 30 years to 8.8 million disabled individuals receiving benefits as the number of approved claims goes down. Receipt of disability benefits can be a significant concern impacting disabled individuals and their families, which is why it is important for them to understand the current application process and how to navigate it.
Source: Fox59.com, “New rules go into effect for Social Security disability claims,” Nick McGill, March 27, 2017