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Social Security Disability Changes for 2014

Posted on Jan 15, 2014

For people applying for Social Security disability income benefits in 2014, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has decided to make six critical changes. These changes are anticipated to have a profound impact on how people are approved or denied the SSDI benefits they need.

The first two changes to be made alter how the SSA determines whether someone qualifies for Social Security disability. These changes will impact the listings and the grid.

The listings are designed to set clear qualifying standards in place for specific disabling conditions. Now, the SSA has decided to change Social Security disability listings for the first time since 1991. The reason is that the disability listings no longer take into account many jobs in the technology sector, which has boomed since the early 1990s. The new listings are not anticipated to go into effect until 2016.

Social Security law judges use the grid to decide whether or not a person qualifies for benefits. The grid does not currently reflect that many people are able to continue working into their 60s and 70s, so it is in the process of being updated.

Another two changes being made are to the way medical information is disclosed. Many Social Security disability lawyers will be forced to provide full disclosure about their clients. Doctors and lawyers will also be under close scrutiny to determine whether some third-party groups are enabling fraud in the system in any way. So far, the task force selected to search for fraud has not found any culprits.

The job descriptions and caseloads of SSA workers make up the final changes being implemented. Up until recently, SSA workers have had an abundance of cases to tackle, causing a major backlog in applications. The cap on how many cases a judge can handle has been lowered to 800 cases. Also, several layers of supervision will be added to each judge. This will encourage better training and more accuracy in a judge’s workload.

As a Social Security disability law firm in Boston, we welcome these changes and hope that they will ease the process so more people can receive the disability benefits they need to live.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law