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Fewer Lose Benefits in SSA Disability Reviews: CDR "Cessation" Rate Now Below Four Percent
Fewer beneficiaries are losing disability benefits in SSA "continuing disability reviews" or "CDRs," the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) said in July.  Though SSA stopped benefits for an estimated 7.2 percent of beneficiaries reviewed in fiscal year 1997, it terminated only 3.7 percent in 2001. SSA estimates it will terminate benefits for 3.5to 3.7 percent of beneficiaries reviewed in fiscal years 2004 through 2008, inclusive.

SSA initially told some reviewed beneficiaries that their benefits would stop, but ultimately kept paying them. Told that their benefits would cease, the beneficiaries appealed and persuaded SSA to continue paying. Often, however, the appeals took quite a long time.

To avoid unfavorable initial decisions and the harrowing experience of appeals, beneficiaries who are notified by SSA of medical reviews should promptly provide the agency all available medical evidence showing they remain disabled.
For copy of report in Adobe Acrobat format, click here:
Social Security Disability: Reviews of Beneficiaries’ Disability Status Require Continued Attention to Achieve Timeliness and Cost-Effectiveness GAO-03-662, July 2003

Above Updated December 12, 2003

Post Polio Disability Proof Clarified by New Social Security Ruling
Proof of disability due to post polio illness was clarified today, when the Social Security Administration published Social Security Ruling 03-1p in the Federal Register. (Federal Register July 2, 2003, pages 39611 to 39614.) Readers may access a copy of the Ruling by clicking here.

Above Updated December 12 2003

SSA May Change Disability Listings for Systemic Lupus
The Social Security Administration has extended the expiration date of the Immune Systems listings (14.00 and 114.00) until July 1, 2005 . These include the lupus listings 14.02 (adults) and 114.02 (children). However, SSA may well modify the listings before that date because they published a notice in the Federal Register, May 9, 2003, requesting comments or proposed revisions to immune system listings (Federal Register, May 9, 2003, page 24896).

Above Updated  December 12, 2003

Social Security Hearings Now May Be Held by Video
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has revised its rules to allow hearings before administrative law judges (ALJs) where parties and witnesses may "appear" by video teleconferencing (VTC). If SSA schedules your hearing as one where you would appear by VTC, rather than in person, you may object to use of that procedure and they will reschedule your hearing and provide one where you may appear in person before the ALJ. See
Federal Register: February 3, 2003, pages 5210-5221.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

SSA "Ticket to Work" Program Extended to More States
he Social Security Administration is implementing the final phase of its "Ticket to Work" program. Between November 2003 and September 2004 SSA will add the following States and U.S. territories: Alabama, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, as well as in American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

The Ticket to Work program is designed to help people who are drawing disability benefits, to resume work.

Initially, tickets were mailed to SSDI and SSI disability beneficiaries in thirteen states - Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and Wisconsin should be receiving tickets.

Later tickets went to beneficiaries in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The Ticket Program is voluntary. Social Security and SSI beneficiaries who receive a Ticket are not required to work, but may choose to use their Ticket to strengthen their capacities and go to work. On the Internet, see the Ticket information site at www.ssa.gov.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

SSA Issues Ruling for Evaluating Interstitial Cystitis 
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has issued a new Social Security Ruling (SSR) that explains how the agency evaluates disability caused by interstitial cystitis or "IC." Published November 5, 2002, the ruling became effective immediately. It is titled SSR 02-2p, "Evaluation of Interstitial Cystitis." Applicants for disability benefits who have IC (and their advocates) should certainly review the ruling.

SSR 02-2p alerts SSA decision-makers to the disabling potential of IC, a relatively rare disorder, and helps doctors of women and men with IC focus on the issues that concern SSA when providing medical  documentation for disability claims.

SR 02-2p calls IC, "a complex, chronic bladder disorder characterized by urinary frequency, urinary urgency, and pelvic pain. IC occurs most frequently in women (about 10 times more often than in men), and sometimes prior to age 18. IC may be associated with other disorders, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, endometriosis, and vulvodynia (vulvar/vaginal pain). IC also may be associated with systemic lupus erythematosus." Click here to view the text of SSR 02-2p, or look in the Federal Register dated November 5, 2002, pages 67436-67439.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

2003 Cost of Living Adjustment and SSDI Earnings Limits
Social Security says, "Because of the annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment, or COLA, you can expect a 1.4 percent increase in your checks soon. If you’re a Social Security beneficiary, the increase will start with your January 2003 benefit. SSI recipients will get increased payments beginning December 31." Also, individuals receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may earn up to $800 a month in 2003 without jeopardizing their benefits. It is best for people receiving disability benefits to seek competent professional advice before working. See "Social Security's Directories of Free Professional Advice for Returning to Work," below. To view the official SSA announcement,
click here.

Above Checked December 12, 2003

SSA Return to Work Incentives Explained in Free Online Briefings 
Professionals who advise disability beneficiaries on the opportunities and risks of SSA "work incentives" will want to read several briefing papers published recently by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). The subjects include:

Understanding 1619(b)
Expedited Reinstatement (EXR)
Getting the Right Answers to Work Incentives Questions
Parent to Child Deeming
Introduction and Overview of Deeming
Subsidy and Special Conditions
Plan for Achieving Self-Support (PASS)

VCU created the publications under a Social Security Administration (SSA) grant, and they can be downloaded without charge from worksupport.com.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

SSA Union Officer Alleges Wide Variations Among States in Awards  of Disability Benefits
A union official says SSA tolerates wide state-to-state variations in the percentages of successful Social Security disability claims: "More than 70 percent of Social Security Disability Insurance [SSDI] claims for benefits are approved in New Hampshire, while only less than 38 percent of those who file for benefits in Oklahoma are approved. Of those who applied for SSI [Supplemental Security Income] benefits, New Hampshire soars with an allowance rate of over 63%. However, less fortunate are those from Kansas, Missouri, Louisiana and Georgia. Less than 35 percent of the SSI applications in these states are approved by the respective State Disability Determination service (DDS)." 

So testified Witold Skwierczynski, President, National Council of SSA Field Operations Locals, American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, Baltimore, Maryland, on June 11, 2002, to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security. His full statement is available on the Subcommittee's Internet site.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

SSA Issues Ruling on Evaluation of Obesity in Disability Claims
New Social Security Ruling 02-1p establishes evaluation guidelines for disability claims where obesity is a factor. Issued September 12, 2002, the ruling (or "SSR") both describes SSA's current policy and explains its relationship to prior rulings and regulations. Federal Register, September 12, 2002, Pages 57859-57864. Click here to see Ruling.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

Better Description of Claimant's Role Published by SSA 
Social Security Administration (SSA) publications sometimes describe the role of disability benefit claimants as "signing up" for benefits. Many unsuccessful claimants have learned they should have done more to prove their cases than just "sign up." Recently, SSA published a more candid description of the claimant’s role:

". . . you [the claimant] generally have the burden of proving your disability. You must furnish medical and other evidence we can use to reach conclusions about your impairment(s) and its effect on your ability to work on a sustained basis. Our [SSA’s] responsibility is to make every reasonable effort to develop your complete medical history. That includes arranging for consultative examinations, if necessary. We are responsible for helping you produce evidence that shows whether you are disabled. Federal Register, June 11, 2002, Pages 39904-39915. Click here to see notice.

Above Updated December 12, 2003

SSA Might Offer Jobs to Disability Benefit Recipients. 
Commissioner Jo Anne Barnhart of the Social Security Administration told a congressional subcommittee she is thinking about replacing agency retirees with people recruited from the disability rolls. She said: "many of SSA’s employees are retirement eligible and many more will become eligible over the next few years ... We can even look creatively at this challenge as an opportunity for employment of our own SSI and SSDI recipients."  To the House Ways & Means Committee, Social Security Subcommittee, May 2, 2002. Click here to review the statement.

Above Updated March 31,2004

[Physicians' Disability Services, Inc.]
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Last Revised Wednesday, November 17, 2004, 11:31 AM EST

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