Redetermination: A New and Old Additional Step to Getting Your Social Security Benefits
We often hear in government about cutting through the red tape, getting rid of regulatory strangleholds, battling the bureaucracy and making government lean and efficient to encourage growth. Does this apply to business only or does it also apply to programs for the disabled and the poor? President Trump and Social Security Commissioner Andrew M Saul are you listening to me?
The return of Redetermination in 10 States is a tremendous waste of government resources with very little benefit. Many people who have been around in this business and look at all the stats and numbers and history much more than me think so.
How do I know or feel this personally? Well I wasn't around in the past for Redetermination but I'm going to go by just one thing that happened just the other day with a Client of mine just a few days after it was reinstituted along with my general belief and understanding about big organizations.
My Client was denied at the initial determination level. He was instructed inn the denial to go online to complete a form to appeal that determination. The system would not let him appeal unless he filled out what is probably for most people one to two hours worth of information. IT IS ALL INFORMATION HE ALREADY PROVIDED TO THEM JUST A FEW MONTHS PRIOR. I couldn't believe it myself so I went on and looked.
Talk about a disconnect.
I'm told that in the states that have had Redetermination for some time that on average 10% of the people get approved at that level. I haven't seen any stats on what types of cases these are or why they weren't approved in the first place. I've heard and would guess that a good number of them are because of not having all the medical records needed at the time of the first determination. That's nice. Wouldn't it be better to just improve the initial determination process to catch these cases earlier and let them hold onto them longer than the maximum six months to work them up and get the files.
Many of the people I meet are so discouraged from applying and/or fighting the appeals. Its especially bothersome when you have people who have put off applying just because of how hard they hear it is to get and/or they feel guilty or bad about collecting the benefits they earned and/or need. Most people who try to appeal at redetermination and who see that the government wants them to tell them everything over again that they already told them are going to be discouraged. They are just going to sign off.
There is of course more to discuss about this and more that I don't like about it. I'll try to be an optimist though and we'll see what happens. I could be wrong but I don't think so. Part of my job and that of all Social Security Disability Attorneys is to work with and withing the system as best we can but also realize that we are advocates fighting for people outside the system, often far far far outside the system.
Added Note: Andrew Saul is not yet the Commissioner of Social Security. Apparently it has been several years since there has been a Commissioner. You could say that there is nobody who is in charge. As Harry Truman might ask, "Where Does the Buck Stop?"
Also I have confirmed with Social Security at the Regional Level that for someone to appeal at the Reconsideration Level they can just fill out the one form and submit it to their local Social Security Office. They still need to change the website. It's misleading and confusing and will result in many people giving up on their appeal. They also need to change the wording in the Denial Letter to state this.