With increasing budget crises at the federal level and an increased cost-saving emphasis on fraud prevention and reporting, there are a number of proposed changes to the Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs coming in 2015 and 2016. Although some of these changes are positive, and will help preserve future benefits for qualified individuals, other changes may be slated to take a bite out of your monthly budget. Read on, or talk to professionals from sites like http://www.johnehornattorney.com, to learn more about some of the changes coming to the SSD and SSI programs and how they may impact you.
Changes to how disability is determined
Several of the proposed or enacted changes deal with the manner in which disability is currently determined or the criteria required to adjudge someone disabled.
- Job type listing
In order to be determined sufficiently disabled to receive SSD or SSI benefits, you must not only not be able to perform your normal pre-disability job, but also unable to perform any job without requiring unreasonable accommodations. For example, if you work in an office and suffer a leg injury, you may be unable to perform filing and other physical tasks but still able to perform sedentary work. In this situation, your disability claim would likely be denied and your job reassigned to include only sedentary work. To determine whether you can perform any paid work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a "job book" that contains tens of thousands of job listings, as well as the physical requirements to perform each job. The SSA proposes to update this book over the next several years, removing outdated and obsolete job titles and including recent job innovations in the technical sectors. For example, many internet and e-commerce-based jobs are not included in this book, despite the large number of individuals employed in these fields.
Because many new jobs created are more sedentary (particularly compared to the outdated jobs being removed), this may make it more difficult to qualify for benefits if your disability is mobility-related.
- Judicial supervision
Social Security judges are now subject to more diligent oversight -- and judges who have improbably high numbers of approved claims could find their cases seeing greater scrutiny than before. This can prevent fraud by ensuring that litigants whose disabilities are questionable aren't "judge shopping" until they find someone who can approve their claims.
Changes to how payments are made
There are also some changes coming to the way your payment amount is determined.
- Reporting of workers compensation benefits
Several Social Security laws deal with "double-dipping" -- obtaining SSI or SSD benefits at the same time you're receiving workers compensation or other private insurance or disability benefits. Although the receipt of workers compensation benefits won't exempt you from receiving SSD, your SSD benefit may be reduced by the amount of workers compensation you receive. Currently, SSD and SSI recipients are required to self-report these payments, and officials estimate that there are thousands of Americans failing to report their receipt of these benefits.
A new proposal would require state agencies and insurance companies to create an online database that would automatically report these payments to the Social Security Administration -- reducing fraud and non-compliance.
- Potential reduction in benefits
Even with these fraud prevention measures coming, the Social Security Fund is in trouble. The portion of this fund used to pay disability benefits is scheduled to run empty in late 2016 -- so that the federal government will have only current payroll receipts available to pay outstanding disability claims. Some analysts believe that this could result in a 20 percent across the board cut in benefits to current SSD and SSI recipients if action is not taken to restore funding to these programs.