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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Take Action to Protect Social Security Benefits!

The Social Security Administration has proposed a new rule for people who get disability benefits. The proposed rule would apply to both SSDI and SSI and would change the number and frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs). If this rule is finalized, over 2 million people could be at risk of losing their disability benefits over the next 10 years.

Social Security is a lifeline that so many people with disabilities depend on. We need to fight this proposed rule!

Background

When a person is determined to be disabled by the Social Security Administration (SSA), they are required to undergo Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs) to ensure they continue to qualify. If Social Security determines someone no longer meets their criteria for disability – and are not disabled anymore, or not disabled ‘enough’ to need benefits – their benefits are terminated.

The frequency of CDRs depends on what SSA considers a person’s likelihood of ‘medical improvement” to be. People are put into one of three categories: Medical Improvement Expected (MIE), with reviews required every 6-18 months; Medical Improvement Possible (MIP), with reviews required every 3 years; and Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE), with reviews required every 5-7 years.

The new proposal would add another category – “Medical Improvement Likely” (MIL) – which would be subject to CDRs every two years. A lot of people are expected to be put in this category, and a majority (if not all) of the people in this category would be moved from the categories that currently require less frequent reviews. See a list of the disabilities tentatively identified for inclusion in the MIL and other categories (PDF). In addition to this new category with more frequent reviews, people in the Medical Improvement Not Expected (MINE) category would now be subject to CDRs every 6 years.

CDRs are burdensome and complex, and this proposal would result in some people having their benefits terminated because they can’t navigate the process. People also have their benefits terminated because of errors made by the Social Security Administration and poorly-done reviews. The proposed changes are expected to lead to 2.6 million more CDRs over the next 10 years, and in an already overburdened system, those errors would only increase.

Social Security estimates that this proposal would cost them an estimated $1.8 billion. They also estimate $2.6 billion in savings – which means $2.6 billion in benefit cuts! The clear purpose of this proposal is to terminate benefits. These changes would put millions of people at risk of losing their benefits over those ten years.

Take Action!

Comments are due January 31, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., Eastern time. Your comments should urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw the proposed rule and explain why you oppose it. Every comment counts! We have included some talking points below, but your comment will be strongest if you personalize it with your own experiences. Please note: comments submitted are public. If you want to submit comments anonymously, make sure to enter “Anonymous” in the name fields.

Comments can be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking Portal (preferred), by fax, or by mail.

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: You may submit electronic comments at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=SSA-2018-0026-0001 or by going to regulations.gov and searching for Docket number SSA-2018-0026. Click on “Comment Now” and you can type your comments into the comment box or upload a document.
  • Fax: You can fax your comments to (410) 966-2830.
  • Mail: You may mail comments to the Office of Regulations and Reports Clearance, Social Security Administration, 3100 West High Rise Building, 6401 Security Boulevard, Baltimore, Maryland 21235-6401.

Talking points:

The process of getting benefits: Getting Social Security benefits is extremely difficult. This proposed rule will add another layer of difficulty to maintaining the benefits we need. Tell the Social Security Administration how complicated the process of applying and qualifying for benefits was for you.

The Continuing Disability Review (CDR): The CDR process is also complex and burdensome. It can be time consuming, costly, and stressful. Some people will lose their benefits just because the process is so difficult to navigate. Tell them how the CDR process is difficult for you.

Longer wait times: People already have to wait years for hearings, reviews, and approvals. By increasing the amount of work on an already overburdened Social Security Administration, this will result in longer delays for the benefits people need to survive.

More errors: It is well-documented that the Social Security Administration sometimes mistakenly terminates and denies benefits. This new rule will put more people at risk of being unfairly being denied benefits due to errors and poorly-done reviews.

Higher costs: The proposal will increase administrative costs by $1.8 billion over 10 years.

Cuts to benefits: The proposal estimates $2.6 billion in cuts to benefits over the next 10 years. Over 2 million people will be at risk of losing their benefits.

Sample comment template:

(We recommend personalizing your comments with your own experiences and additional information from the talking points above.)

I am writing to oppose the Social Security Administration’s proposed rule that would change the frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews for many people. This proposed rule would harm many people, and I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw it.

Getting disability benefits is extremely difficult. Continuing Disability Reviews are also very complex and burdensome for many people with disabilities. Making people with disabilities go through these reviews more frequently will push people off their much-needed benefits and create longer delays for everyone.

This proposed rule is dangerous. It puts over two million people with disabilities at risk of losing critical, life-saving benefits. This rule should not go forward. I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw this proposed rule.

Comments

  1. Dr. Kira Meskin says

    I am writing to oppose the Social Security Administration’s proposed rule that would change the frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews for many people. This proposed rule would harm many people, especially the consumers I serve, and I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw it.

    Getting disability benefits is extremely difficult. Continuing Disability Reviews are also very complex and burdensome for many people with disabilities. Making people with disabilities go through these reviews more frequently will push people off their much-needed benefits and create longer delays for everyone.

    This proposed rule is dangerous. It puts over two million people with disabilities at risk of losing critical, life-saving benefits. This rule should not go forward. I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw this proposed rule.

  2. Kim Crystal says

    I am writing to oppose the Social Security Administration’s proposed rule that would change the frequency of Continuing Disability Reviews for many people. This proposed rule would harm many people, and I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw it. This proposal will harm me. I suffer from a multitude of disabling mental and physical factors, but mostly mental. Having had experienced CDRs myself, I can testify to how highly stressful this process is. After every single one, I was worse off for the experience. It’s degrading. It’s devaluing. It’s like being interrogated. I feel traumatized afterwards.

    Getting disability benefits is extremely difficult. Continuing Disability Reviews are also very complex and burdensome for many people with disabilities. Making people with disabilities go through these reviews more frequently will push people off their much-needed benefits and create longer delays for everyone. Having to go through these reviews makes me feel like a non-citizen.

    This proposed rule is dangerous. It puts over two million people with disabilities at risk of losing critical, life-saving benefits. This rule should not go forward. I urge the Social Security Administration to withdraw this proposed rule.

    SSDI IS A LIFE SAVER. I would be dead if it weren’t for my SSDI benefits. Without them, I cannot afford to live, to go to Doctors, to receive treatment and medications necessary to help me live.

    This proposal will kill Americans.

  3. Sandra Timmermans says

    I am writing about the proposal to cut social security disability.I am 68.I make $600.00 on social security disability every month.After medicare fees.My supplemental insurance is $340.00 which covers nothing.My prescription costa are $600.00 are month.I am so ill with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome I would not even be able to go and have my case reviewed.Please do not consider this.

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