If you were taking a sabbatical from the news over the holidays, you may have missed a new rule that’s being proposed by the Trump administration. It would impact how recipients of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are classified.
Opponents of the proposed change say it’s designed to take away these benefits from people who need them. Currently, about 16 million people receive money from one of these two programs intended for those who are unable to work due to physical and/or emotional disabilities.
Beneficiaries are subject to regular disability reviews to determine whether they still need the assistance. The frequency of reviews depends on the type of disability or illness they have. Currently, recipients are placed in one of three categories:
- Medical Improvement Not Expected
- Medical Improvement Expected
- Medical Improvement Possible
These categories are assigned based on medical standards that help determine the chances of a person’s condition improving. The category determines how frequently their benefits are reviewed.
The proposed fourth category is “Medical Improvement Likely.” It’s estimated that about 4.4 million people would be placed in that category, and their benefit eligibility would be reviewed every two years.
One attorney says that many of them would be children and people over 50 with little education or income. The new category has been called “arbitrary” and “mystifying” by advocates for Social Security recipients. Another attorney says, “There’s an underhandedness to this. It’s ideological, not based on medicine or science.”
Those opposed to the change say it’s simply a means to remove people from the SSDI and SSI rolls. Public comment is allowed on the proposed rule through January.
Like most everything these days, opinions on the proposed rule are divided along party lines. Democratic Sen. Bob Casey says the proposal “appears to be yet another attempt by the Trump administration to make it more difficult for people with disabilities to receive benefits.”
Whether someone receives the benefits they need and deserve shouldn’t be a political issue. Unfortunately, like many things, it often is. If changes to current federal regulations and procedures make it more difficult to continue receiving benefits, or if you believe you’ve been unfairly denied for other reasons, it’s wise to seek legal guidance.