A proposal by the Trump White House could lead to thousands of beneficiaries losing their Social Security disability benefits. The proposal first surfaced in November, but received little attention then, amid the impeachment news that dominated the headlines. However, it’s now clear that beneficiaries are at risk from the proposal that aims to ramp up reviews of claims.
The proposal specifically aims at scrutinizing disability claims even after the payments have started. To be fair, such reviews have always been implemented under the disability benefits program. Even after a person qualifies for benefits under the Social Security Disability program, and even after he or she begins receiving his or her disability checks every month, the case is still subject to periodic review. This is done to make sure that the person continues to meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of “disabled.” A significant improvement in the medical condition would make benefits unnecessary.
However, what is alarming about President Trump’s proposal is that it will mandate reviews at a greater frequency. This could mean that many beneficiaries whose condition still makes it impossible for them to earn a sustainable income may incorrectly be reviewed as medically fit, and no longer deserving of benefits.
According to the administration, such frequent reviews are necessary because they help to take into consideration the possibility of improvements in the beneficiary’s medical condition. Opponents of the proposal have already expressed their dismay at the possibility that still-eligible beneficiaries will be run off the program as a result of the increased number of reviews.
Recently, one of my clients experienced a loss of healthcare coverage after her benefits were cut off from a cessation of benefits review. She was one week away from a necessary surgery, and that surgery had to be cancelled. It took an appeal and almost 8 more months before her benefits were reinstated. These are the effects of a frequent and aggressive cessation of benefits program.
The current system of review is perfectly adequate and capable of monitoring improvements in medical conditions, and as a Security disability attorney, who sees up close the stress that reviews can place on an individual, I don’t believe there is any need for a ramping up of reviews. There is also much concern that the current administration is aggressively targeting the disabled community and its reliance on government assistance.