The Associated Press reported today that the Social Security Administration has finalized rule changes that have been in the works for months. The changes cited in the AP story sound good, but not mentioned are the changes that will make it harder for claimants to obtain benefits, such as raising the ages of the various brackets. Excerpts from the article:
People who are clearly disabled could be approved for disability benefits in as little as 20 days under a new determination process to be rolled out by the Social Security Administration.
The new procedures, to be finalized Tuesday, could cut at least nine months off the roughly three years it takes people seeking disability benefits to work through the entire process for appealing decisions when benefits are denied.
Social Security Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart said six states in the Northeast will be the first to use the revised system, beginning Aug. 1. People who applied for benefits before the change will still operate under the old procedures.
The changes will be implemented in a second region about a year later, with new procedures put in place nationwide over several years.
Among the changes, a special unit will screen applicants for cases of clear disability that can be quickly approved for benefits. Other changes aim to give applicants a faster and more meaningful reconsideration in cases when claims are denied.
Medical and vocational experts will play a bigger role in evaluating disability applications.