The Social Security Administration appears to be tightening rules for individuals applying for disability benefits. Under a new proposal, applicants will be asked to provide what is considered all relevant medical information to the government. This will be the case even it appears individuals are unable to work.
There has been concern that officials at least at one firm withheld information that if released could have adversely affected their client cases. Besides concerns about withholding of evidence, the SSA also seemed concerned that evidence received was incomplete. The evidence could turn out to be either favorable or unfavorable towards the client's case.
As Michigan lawyers working in this area, we've long stressed how complex applications for Social Security disability benefits can be. Initial requests are decided by state agencies. A denial can mean reapplying with the state agency and possibly requesting a hearing with a Social Security judge at some point. The proposed changes will not likely make the process easier for many applicants.
Judges in these matters are often asked to decide upon a large number of cases. Though judges can ask for additional information, this often proves difficult because it involves issuing subpoenas to doctors and hospitals without always knowing where the appropriate information can be found.
The SSA has been under pressure by Congress to implement changes where more information can be provided. The proposed changes could arrive in the next few months. We stress the need for experienced SSDI lawyers while going through the process in any case. Navigating the process on one's own can greatly reduce the chances that an application for benefits will be approved.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Social Security Proposes to Tighten Rules on Disability Appeals," Damian Paletta, March 6, 2014