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Changes to disability applications may create challenges

Social Security disability claims are already challenging, however, new rules that recently went into effect may make it even more difficult to obtain these badly needed benefits. The new rules eliminate what is referred to as the treating-physician rule, which historically provided significant deference to a report from a physician that accompanied a claim for benefits. The rule required those reviewing SSD claims for benefits to give significant weight to the physician’s report.

In addition to not providing additional weight to a report from a physician that is part of the application for benefits, the new rules will also not give added weight to disability determinations from other government agencies, such as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The Social Security Administration reports that for the first time in close to 30 years, the number of disabled individuals receiving disability benefits has declined. The number of approved claims has also declined.

In total, there are approximately 8.8 million disabled individuals receiving Social Security disability benefits, which is the lowest number of disabled individuals receiving SSD benefits in 5 years. The SSD claims process can be challenging. Disabled individuals who suffer from a physical or mental medical condition that prevents them from working and this disability is expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death, may be eligible to receive SSD benefits. To qualify, successful applicants must also have the necessary work history.

As the application process for SSD benefits becomes potentially more challenging, it may be more important than ever before for disabled individuals to thoroughly understand how to navigate the process. Greater familiarity with the ins and outs of the application process can only benefit disabled individuals as they seek the benefits they need for daily living.

Source:, “New rules go into effect for Social Security disability claims,” Nick McGill, March 27, 2017


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