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Disability Evaluation in a Nutshell 2005
Disability Evaluation in a Nutshell 2005 gives
clear, concise, and authoritative guidance to doctors who write disability evaluation reports. The 2005 edition of the proven booklet includes charts and checklists that help examining doctors identify functional impairments that limit a patient's ability to work. The new edition was added to the Pds Internet website in the past week.

The Nutshell booklet focuses on the three medical questions asked in the Social Security Act’s definition of “disability.” These must be answered by the medical evidence in every successful disability claim. Focusing medical reports on these questions assures that SSA evaluates the impairments accurately.

The booklet includes:

• a hypothetical report prepared by two physicians experienced in Social Security disability evaluation,

a doctor's checklist for functional impairment based on official SSA publications,

a summary of the SSA Listing of Impairments — medical conditions that SSA considers especially severe, and

a daily activities worksheet that the patient completes for the doctor which identifies physical and mental limitations.

Available in print or as a downloadable Pds e-Book

Above Updated August 22, 2005

Does Social Security Care What Your Name Is?
Have you ever filled out an application that doesn’t ask for your name? We found a Social Security form that doesn’t.

See if you can find a place for your name and Social Security number on the Social Security Administration’s new “Medical and Job Worksheet” (Form SSA-3381). To see one on the Internet go to www.ssa.gov/disability/Adult_StarterKit_Worksheet.pdf. As of the date we are writing, there isn’t any place for name or Social Security number.

Since April 2004, SSA has sent this form to people filing disability claims.

SSA knows the form lacks a place for name and number. In June 2004 a management group meeting at the Social Security headquarters heard a report on the problem, and that an SSA workgroup is “looking at” it.

You might expect that a correction would follow quickly. After all, without a name and number you don’t know what claim file the paper belongs in. However, almost five months later SSA is using the same form.

Above Updated October 24, 2004

Claim Approval Rates Decline Slightly at SSA
Social Security disability claim approval rates declined slightly in 2003, according to figures published by the U.S.General Accountability Office (GAO) July 2, 2004.

Initial claim decision 37% approved 63% denied
Reconsideration 15% approved 85% denied
Administrative Law Judge 61% approved 39% denied or dismissed

For comparison, the 2002 figures were:

Initial claim decision 38% approved 62% denied
Reconsideration 16% approved 84% denied
Administrative Law Judge 61% approved 39% denied or dismissed

As of July 2004, approximately 10,562,000 people were receiving Social Security disability benefits in the United States, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Above Posted September 1, 2004

SS Disability Benefits and work: New 2005 Red Book
People with disabilities who want to work, should consult Social Security's 2005 Red Book. The long form title of the book explains the purpose:

2004 Red Book: a Summary Guide to Employment Support for Individuals with Disabilities under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Programs.

The Red Book is free on the Internet at: www.ssa.gov/work/ResourcesToolkit/redbook.html
It can be had in Adobe Acrobat or HTML formats. If printed, the Acrobat file is 65 pages in length.

For access to a much more detailed guidebook (4,063 pages) that tells how work affects all kinds of disability related benefits, see Supporting Career Development and Employment (for Beneficiaries of Social Security), published by Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations, under contract with the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is available in Adobe Acrobat or plain text formats at: www.ilr.cornell.edu/ped/ssa_curriculum/

Above Posted September 1, 2004

White House Cites Strengths/Flaws of Social Security Disability Insurance Program
Strengths and weaknesses of Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program performance were identified as part of the Bush Administration’s budgeting procedure in February 2004. Among the strengths noted by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), were:

1. SSA has set “realistic and challenging targets” for initial claim processing time, hearing processing time, and hearings productivity. However, targets for disability determination services (DDS) productivity at the initial decision level are not ambitious.
2. SSA measures decisional accuracy on an ongoing basis and payment accuracy each year.
3. The DI program works effectively with other related programs including programs of vocational rehabilitation facilities, employment initiatives of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), state workers’ compensation agencies, and the Veteran’s Administration (VA).

Among the deficiencies OMB noted, were:

1. The program contains major design flaws, mainly that SSDI does not reflect changes in the workplace that make it more accessible to people with disabilities and advances in medicine.
2. A significant portion of SSDI benefits may be going to unintended beneficiaries, as indicated by low accuracy rates for hearing decisions, and excessive inconsistency between claim decisions at the initial and hearing levels.
3. The agency has failed to shorten processing times for decisions at the hearing appeal level, namely:
o Hearing level processing time increased from 336 days in 2002, to 344 days in 2003. SSA's target for 2004 is 377 days.
o In contrast, initial level claim processing time dropped from 104 days in 2002, to 97 days in 2003. SSA's target for 2004 is 97 days.

For the complete OMB assessment, on the Internet go to: www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2005/pma/ssa.pdf

Above Posted March 31, 2004

2006 Cost of Living Adjustment and SSDI  Earnings Limits
COLA: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has announced a 4.1 percent upward cost of living adjustment (COLA) for benefits paid to people in its disability and retirement programs, effective January 1, 2006.

SGA: SSA also raised the amount of earnings it calls "substantial gainful activity" or "SGA." This is the monthly earnings from work which may trigger a review of one's entitlement to disability benefits. Beginning January 1, 2006 the agency will consider monthly earnings exceeding $860 to be SGA (for 2005 earnings exceeding $830 per month were SGA). People disabled by blindness can earn more; their SGA figure in 2006 is $1,450 per month (compared with $1,380 per month in 2005).

Earnings Needed for a Quarter of Coverage: In 2006 it will take $970 of earnings to obtain a credit toward Social Security disability insurance, retirement, and Medicare coverage (in 2005 it took $920).

Trial Work Month: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries will use up one of their nine trial work months every month in 2006 that they earn $ 620 or more (in 2005 a trial work month was consumed each month that SSDI beneficiaries earned $590 or more).

SSI: The monthly federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment in 2006 is $603 for an individual recipient (compared with $579 in 2005). For a couple who both receive SSI, the combined benefit in 2006 is $904 per month (compared with $869 in 2005). From Fact Sheet: 2006 Social Security Changes, SSA Press Office.

More news in Disability Facts Blog

Fewer Lose Benefits in SSA Disability Reviews, click here
Post Polio Disability Proof Clarified by Social Security Ruling, click here
SSA May Change Disability Listings for Systemic Lupus, click here
Social Security Hearings Now May Be Held by Video, click here
SSA "Ticket to Work" Program Extended to More States, click here
SSA Issues Guide for Evaluating Interstitial Cystitis, click here
2003 Cost of Living Adjustment and SSDI Earnings Limits, click here
SSA Return to Work Incentives Explained in Free VCU Briefings, click here
SSA Union Officer Alleges Wide Variations Among States in Awards of Disability Benefits, click here
SSA Issues Ruling on Evaluation of Obesity in Disability Claims, click here
Better Description of Claimant's Role Published by SSA, click here
SSA Might Offer Jobs to Disability Benefit Recipients, click here

[Physicians' Disability Services, Inc.]
Pds-Third Floor Publishing, LLC
Douglas M. Smith, Editor

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4848 Lemmon Avenue, Suite 100,
Dallas, Texas 75219
Telephone: (214) 363-5374
E-mail: dfacts@earthlink.net
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Last Revised Thursday, December 23, 2004, 12:08 PM EST

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