The Social Security Disability Insurance benefits program will be undergoing a number of changes over the next year in the way the government determines whether applicants qualify.
The New York Social Security lawyers at Pasternack, Tilker, Zielger, Walsh, Stanton & Romano, LLP understand that some of these changes could improve your chances of receiving benefits, but others could make it more challenging.
One of the immediate changes involves the addition of 25 new ailments to the Compassionate Allowances list. This is the list that allows individuals with serious and usually rare and terminal conditions to receive benefits very quickly upon application.
While the average wait time for a disability hearing in New York state is 350 days (that's after you've received a denial), a person who is able to show proof of diagnosis of conditions on the Compassionate Allowance list can usually secure benefits within about 20 days.
With the addition of these 25 conditions, it brings the total number of Compassionate Allowance conditions to 225, and it's estimated some 200,000 people have so far received benefits through the program. Qualifying conditions range from brain tumors to intestinal disorders.
Another change on the horizon, according to The Wall Street Journal, is the way the agency determines whether you are able to work. Anytime a person applies for benefits, the agency asks vocational experts to see whether the applicant's background matches any various occupation locally. These experts are provided with a dictionary that contain more than 10,000 job listings. However, that list hasn't been updated since 1991. As you can imagine, there have been a number of new occupations that have emerged in the interim, mostly in the technology sector. This may be bad news for some SSDI applicants because a number of technology jobs may not require extensive physical work, which is often a determinant measure of a person's ability to be employed.
Another element that could soon be changing is the issue of disclosure. There have unfortunately been some examples in recent years of law firms representing applicants withholding medical records that might have been detrimental to their clients' claims. Of course, this is unethical and the agency has an interest in making sure it doesn't happen. However, this could be to the detriment of honest applicants, who may find the threshold for approval even higher. Agency administrators indicated that they would propose a new rule that would prevent law firms from failing to disclose relevant information. However, there is no word yet on the details of that proposal.
And finally, another matter the agency wishes to address is caseload. The agency has for several years faced a sizable backlog of cases, which is part of the reason these cases take so long to work their way through the pipeline. In some situations, administrative law judges for years were taking on anywhere from 500 to 1,000 cases annually, which breaks down to two or three or even four decisions each day. The judges complain this is hardly enough time to properly weigh the evidence - and they are probably right. The limit has since been capped by the agency at 800 cases per judge per year. But that is still a lot. There is now talk that the agency will hire more judges and again lower this caseload limit. However, there have been no solid numbers provided as of yet.
To file for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits in New York, contact the Law Offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP today by calling (800) 692-3717 or by visiting www.workerslaw.com.