In a recent rule change, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has changed the way in which it will view statements from an applicant's treating physician. Previously, statements of the treating physician had been according "significant weight" as evidence of disability in an application for Social Security Disability benefits.
The federal government is a large organization. It employees more than 2.6 million workers, and more than 4.1 million if you include the military. Many of those jobs demand advanced degrees, including doctors, scientists and lawyers. This means federal payroll makes up a significant part of the federal budget. And this makes it an attractive target when it comes to attempting to save money from that budget.
One of the difficulties many applicants for SSD run into is the need for their medical records. Because the application is designed to demonstrate to the disability claims examiner that they suffer from physical or mental impairments that make it impossible for them to continue to work, medical records are important. These records provide the most compelling, objective evidence related to their health and ability to function.
Sometimes, systems are designed to be difficult. Consider most retail rebate programs. They require you send in various documentation, such as UPC labels and the correct form within a short time frame in order to receive the rebate payment. Most of this process is intentionally designed to be cumbersome and difficult, in an effort to cause many individuals to make mistakes, forget or simply abandon the process because it seems too difficult.
Bureaucracies rarely like to state things in a forthright manner. Bureaucrats recognize they are embedded within an organization, and their progression "up the ladder" depends on their pleasing their bosses. This means issues are often obscured or numbers are manipulated to make situations look better than they are in reality. The Social Security Administration is one of the largest government bureaucracies, and its "bosses" are the members of Congress.
The Social Security Administration maintains many important pieces of data involving most Americans. One of the most important is the list known as the Master Death File (MDF). Because SSA is responsible for paying disability and retirement benefits for millions of Americans, it is necessary that it keep close track of when beneficiaries die. Given the size of the system, failure to keep accurate records could lead to millions of dollars in overpayments from a system that is already financially stressed.
A dollar doesn't go as far as it did at one time. A soda from a vending machine may have cost 25 cents and a new car or truck may have had a sticker price under $10,000. Inflation leads to prices rising and needing more dollars to buy the same products.
It's a good question. Many of those who apply for benefits from the Social Security Disability Insurance program may feel as if the complexity is designed simply to make their lives more difficult and that the process is so complicated that the goal must be to prevent applicants from obtaining benefits despite their suffering a disabling impairment.
The Social Security Disability program serves a real need for Americans. It provides income for those who have worked long enough to be eligible and meet the programs disability standards. The program is expensive because of the great need that exists, the many people it serves and the lack of any alternative.
You may have heard that the Social Security disability trust fund may have less money than it owes in late 2016. Some might ask, "if tax dollars are going towards the disability trust fund, how is it running out?" There are a number of reasons. For starters, only 1.8 percent of the payroll taxes that are taken out for Social Security go towards disability benefits. Another reason is the fact that the program has been "paying out more than it collects since 2005." So far, reserves have covered the difference. Some experts say that this, coupled with an aversion to raising taxes, has left Congress between a rock and a hard place.