New Rule Modernizes How We Award Disability Benefits

February 24, 2020 • By

Last Updated: February 24, 2020

Documents on office table with pen and digital tablet as work space business concept

The Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs protect some of the most vulnerable people in our society. A successful disability program must evolve and support making the right decision as early in the process as possible. To help us do that, we must modernize the rules and standards we use to evaluate how we determine disability benefits. We are moving forward with a rule change that has been in the works for a number of years and serves to update a more than 40-year-old policy that made the inability to communicate in English a factor in awarding disability benefits. The new rule is effective April 27, 2020.

We are required to consider education to determine if your medical condition prevents work. In 2015, our Inspector General recommended that we evaluate the appropriateness of this policy. Research now shows the inability to communicate in English is no longer a good measure of a person’s education level or the ability to engage in work. The new rule also supports the Administration’s longstanding focus of recognizing that individuals with disabilities can remain in the workforce.

To make the right disability decisions, Social Security disability rules must continue to reflect current medicine and evolution of work. We need to update our rules to keep up with society’s changes.

We owe it to the American public to ensure that our disability programs continue to reflect the realities of the modern workplace. Please share this information with your family and friends.

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About the Author

Commissioner of Social Security Administration (June 17, 2019 - July 9, 2021)


  1. Robert G.

    Under the current administration people like myself a disabled person is now going with ZERO income during a global pandemic.

    Essentially The Social Security Administration is actively putting people on the streets adding to a national homeless problem.


  2. Rotek J.

    Easy jobs from home


  3. A. K.

    If I make a report to SSI in a timely fashion ,,,but they wait until months have past, before they contact me. Am I liable for their mistake.. I did all in a timely fashion ….. Who is to blame,,,,

    • Vonda

      For your security, A. Kilgore, we do not have access to private information in this venue. We ask that members in our Blog community work with our offices with specific questions. You can call us at 1-800-772-1213 for assistance or you can contact your local Social Security office. Please look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal. We hope this information helps.

  4. R R.

    Is it possible to have SSDI benefit increased? For example, if a beneficiary goes back to work, pay FICA taxes, and earnings were more than or higher than when originally approved to get SSDI. Does the beneficiary need to request to recalculate of benefits to increase their monthly check amount if has worked off and on.

    • Vonda

      Hi there. Each year we review the records for all Social Security recipients who work. If your latest year of earnings turns out to be one of your highest years, we refigure your benefit and pay you any increase due. This is an automatic process, and benefits are paid in December of the following year. For example, in December 2020, you should get an increase for your 2019 earnings if those earnings raised your benefit. The increase would be retroactive to January 2020.

  5. xray l.

    what can someone do if the time it took social security disability so long (5-6 years) to make a final decision that they run out of work credits because of the enormous backlog to be able to file again? i worked since i was 15 years old and my job moved to Mexico with the Fair Trade Act and i was able to go to college and obtain a degree but was hurt on the job and had preexisting conditions that made the injury worse. my problem is the time i went to college for retraining (3-4 years). i was turned down at every decision and i am still unable to work and my condition has worsened and i have credits to refile. is there any thing i can do. i havent worked in 10 years is there anything i can do?

    • A. U.

      My disability case took years to finally conclude. After 2 denials the third time I hired a social security lawyer who finally assisted me when I went in front of the judges and I won my case. I got all the years of money they owed me (of course the lawyer took his share) but I was so happy that it was finally over and I was going to get my and my children’s benefits that I didn’t care because he did his part. If you haven’t looked into legal assistance maybe you should think about it.

  6. Cynthia p.

    Try increasing SSI and other disability problems. People working get raises but we get nothing for increase. cOLA is whole $2.00 which is also cut because it’s an increases. Groceries raise, rents increases, gas, everything but we can’t get anything to cover that. I would be working if possible, I loved working. I can’t walk a step so can’t work in my field of teaching. They don’t hire disabled teachers in wheelchairs not able to walk. I have tried.

  7. OMAYRA Y.

    if I am disabled and I am getting married. can I lose my disability benefit

    • Vonda V.

      Hello Omayra, if you get Social Security disability or retirement benefits and you marry, your benefit will stay the same. See “If I get married, will it affect my benefits” for more information. Thanks!

  8. William F.

    I was oked for social security disability back in April,2020.They figured my payment to be $348.00 a month. SSD thinks I am still collecting workman’s comp.That stopped on Dec.15,2019. My represenative and I have sent in all the paperwork asked for by SSD and we still have not gotten any answer on this problem.We both have called the office and many extensions but nobody calls us back.What can I do to speed this process up? I am slowly going broke and using up all my savings to get by! Thank you.

    • Vonda V.

      Hi William, thanks for using our blog. We are sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing with Social Security. Please continue to work with your local Social Security office. Look for the general inquiry telephone number at the Social Security Office Locator. The number may appear under Show Additional Office Information. Please be aware that our call wait times are longer than normal.

      You can submit feedback by visiting our Contact Social Security page. Once there, select the “Email Us” link. This will take you to the “Email A Question to our Support Team” form, where you can complete and submit a compliment, complaint, or suggestion. We hope this helps.

      • KC S.

        There is no reason why Social Security cannot open their doors. This is absolutely ridiculous as people Need to apply for benefits or find out what is going on and get any help over the phone.
        It’s been 10 months, so put up plexiglass and wear masks and get back to work like everyone else. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS

    • Janice A.

      I too have ben waiting for ssd to stop dragging there feet and requesting ridiculous things from me. I had a workers comp compromise and release settlement and sent them the papers from the court. They will not accept that letter. They want one from workers comp adjuster. I cannot get one because I had a lawyer and the adjuster will not talk to me. Social Security thinks I’m still getting Workers Comp. The case has been closed since March 2020 and I was approved in August 2019. They are trying to get a letter from somewhere. They keep saying 2 weeks every time I call. I do have a case manager but that isn’t helping.

  9. James R.

    I like to say I am devastated right now the disability act and the legal law if you get disability and you’re under the poverty 803 a month you’re not allowed to garnish year Social Security disability check for child support arrivesment my son is 24 I no longer pay child support I have some reason for medical bills and interest over the years to pay back but but the legal law is I don’t get enough for child support enforcement to Ghana share I am devastated child support told me yesterday that they shouldn’t be gone to sharing your check so now I got to fill out paperwork that they’re sending me to stop the payment I notified Social Security disability and they told me they couldn’t do nothing does anybody know about law and your rights the disability act want you read it and once you read the law on the disability website on top of that the $227 they’ve been taken that was never a family court order from a judge I don’t know how they came up with that number but that’s incorrect the big question is are they going to pay me back or Social Security going to pay me back somebody’s going to be liable that is the law I can’t wait to find out how this unfolds I paid a ton of money in child support over the years my friend in Florida owes child support he gets $800 a month they’re not allowed to touch his check and he’s on SSI SSA I like somebody to email me back and contact me back cuz I’m furious all these years are the god of sharing that’s the legal law so I’m waiting for somebody in management in the Social Security administration to do something about this cuz I will keep on leaving messages on so social media cuz it is so wrong for that to happen to me and I’m glad I found out to put a stop to it immediately that is the law I’m devastated because right now I am in a shelter in New York in the Bronx I lost everything and starting all over and waiting for my housing on top of this I don’t get enough money each month so now I got to wait to go to the process to see who’s going to refund my money that I wasn’t supposed to be paying because of the disability act on top of that they took my impact payment which was $1,444 that I never received now I got an offset from the government and I got to see how I’m going to resolve that the lady told me a child support that must have been a mix-up on whoever’s putting the paperwork together with child support and Social Security and they should know the legal law you can’t go on and see if someone’s that makes 803 a month it’s so crazy at this time everybody needs every dime make you get we’re in a crisis this has to get out there for others that are going through the same thing God bless if this is happening to you contact child support in your local area and Social Security immediately and make them redo everything over God bless and stay safe

  10. rhonda

    I went on disability on sept 2019 and I was told I have a 2 year waiting period to get medicare . is there anyway of getting it sooner

    • Vonda V.

      Hi Rhonda, thank you for your question. You are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and B if you’ve been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for 24 months. An information packet will arrive in the mail a few months before you become eligible. Check out the Medicare brochure for more information.

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