Thursday, May 04, 2006

Social Security Disability Claimants under attack ?

I've posted previously on the "new approach" to disability adjudication that is now set to take center stage in the social security administration's boston region (new england states) on 8/1/06. And in those posts, I've focused on some trust issues as well as on some of the specific mechanics of the new system. However, there are other changes to the social security disability and ssi system that I didn't address in those prior posts and here's one.

In the new system, disability claimants will be required to submit all of their medical evidence to the administrative law judge hearing their case no later than five business days before the actual day of their hearing.

What's wrong with this? Here's what's wrong: sometimes it is extremely difficult for a claimant or their representative (attorney or non-attorney) to get all the records together EVEN BY THE DAY OF THE HEARING. In fact, I can tell you from personal experience that it is very common to go to a hearing and advise the ALJ that certain records are still outstanding and will need to be sent in. Which is no problem in the current system, since judges will usually allot a claimant's representative X number of days in which to followup with a hospital, clinic, or doctor in order to obtain the records and submit them. Even the most hostile judges are generally ok with this.

There are BUREAUCRATS out there who would say "What's wrong with this change? It's ridiculous to not have your records sent in by as late as five days prior to a hearing".

What these people of questionable intellect are missing is this fact: claimants and their attorney or non-attorney representatives don't have a lot of control over how fast records can be obtained. This is up to the medical facility in question. And some doctors and hospitals simply drag their feet forever, especially when it comes to supplying statements in support of their patients (don't get me started on this one).

In summation, this change is a VERY bad idea. And it disadvantages disability claimants. You could even characterize it as petty. But it is when you examine changes to the system like this that you fully understand that the Commissioner for the Social Security Administration, Joanne Barnhart, is disingenous (i.e. full of it) when she says these new changes are for the benefit of the disabled.

Prior postings on the new approach being instituted:

Social Security Disability Reform ? Don't think so

From the Final Rule on Social Security Disability and SSI "reform"

Social Security Disability Reform and my inherent distrust of this administration

Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog

Other Posts

Winning Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Process
How social security determines you are disabled
Social Security Disability SSI Indiana


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