You Can Help Shape Our Disability Policy

person holding puzzle piece

Social Security needs your help. We are asking for responses to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on how we should modernize our vocational rules, which we first published in 1978. These are the rules our disability decision makers use to decide whether an adult with a severe disabling condition can do any job in the national economy.

The Social Security Act sets out a strict definition of disability. Our agency pays benefits to eligible people who can’t work because of a disabling mental or physical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. This medical condition must prevent the person from doing not only their previous work, but any other substantial work.

On Friday, November 20 in Washington DC, Social Security will host a National Disability Forum. The meeting will focus on the realities of employment for individuals with severe disabling conditions, especially for those who are older, have low skills, or low education levels. The purpose is to gather insight on circumstances such as age, education, and work experience, helping us understand the effect these may have on an individual’s ability to work and to adjust to other work. The National Disability Forum looks to consider how these vocational factors can and should inform our evaluation of an applicant’s ability to work consistent with the Social Security Act’s definition of disability.

Paul N. Van de Water will moderate a panel of experts from varying perspectives on these topics. Following the panel presentation, we encourage comments and discussion from all attendees. Your involvement is of the utmost importance in helping us further enhance our disability determination process.

Comments presented during the forum, panel, and open discussion period will be included in the public record for the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule-making, which is available in the Federal Register. To review and provide written comments, go to www.regulations.gov and enter SSA-2014-0081-0001 in the search box. Comments will be accepted until December 14.

If you plan to attend the forum, either in person or by phone, please register by Monday, November 16, 2015. For more information about the National Disability Forum series, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/ndf.

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397 thoughts on “You Can Help Shape Our Disability Policy

  1. Why is it easier to become homeless and die than it is to get approved? If I could work I would I would rather be paying my own bills I’m going to become homeless because I can’t pay my rent I’m so tired all the time I can’t even keep my paperwork in order I have nobody’s help I have nobody I can depend on I’m so tired and just to do laundry in my apartment building makes me more tired why do people have to wait so long to get approved that they lose everything?

  2. This is just another way to push disabled people to the streets. The people making up policy have no concern anything other than their own jobs.

  3. I am a disabled person who has to work and supplement my disability income. I have no choice, but to work part time because my disability income is not enough to live off of. The cost if living and cost of everything else makes it impossible to make it on a disability income alone. As it is I still struggle to meet my bills every month. I have to live a very simple life and in a apartment that is full of mold and not fit for a dog to live in. But the government does not care if people live in apartments that are up to code and are not fit for humans at all. I am looked down upon because I am disabled and can no longer work full time anymore. That is very sad our government treats us like that. I should not be penalized for trying to work when I can’t work just to pay my bills. Grant you there are people who should not be getting any disability benefits at all. They are very capable and able to work, but living off the system is so much easier then working. These people need to have some type of penalty against them for not working when they are very able to work.

  4. Social Security Disability need to understand that physicians determing disability have incentives for influencing denials of disability claims and Social Security need to understand how difficult it is for persons with mental illness to access physical health , mental health and housing, especial when they do not have a working treatment plan; even when prescriptions are given they are often not filled. Mental health persons need courageous, professional physician (psychiatrist and psychiatric RN nurse practioners who specialize in mental health to work in the field: they would have to have the dedication of missionaries. They would have to be paid very well for their expertise, health and safety risk; they should be held extremely accountable. I am an RN Case Manager of many years, I am an older person and can not do the work; I understand because I have a mentally ill son who has been very difficult and nearly hope to get his Social Security Disability. and to get housing. I cannot take him in because I am permanent Guardian for 5 children, my daughter’s who was drug addicted. Please help. Caroline Johnson. P.S. I contacted outreach and they took the referral but dropped out of sight without an explanation. Some of these quock hires are only in it for the pay check.

  5. The article about a forum to discuss disability’s gives a deadline of November 2015. That is very out dated or a major typo. I felt it a waste of my time to have read the article.

  6. I have responded to many Veterans over the past 25 years, unfortunately, many of them are homeless now. They are some of the most vulnerable individuals we have in this country. Many of these men and women lost their lives fighting for causes they knew not. From the veterans who came out mentally affected by the routine bloodshed to the dismembered individuals learning a new life with missing arms, legs or internal organs. They are more than tools in a tool box. The effects on these hero’s extend to their children, spouses, family and friends. The people that form the communities in this great country. Lets take care of those that sacrificed so much more, than most of us even know.

  7. I read on the Forrest Jackson website(local lawyer), and several disability help websites in the last few weeks, claiming that if you worked with a lawyer to apply for social security disability, you would be more likely to get accepted the first time you applied, and have a much greater chance of getting approved during an appeal. Has anyone else on this site had any experience with this type of thing? It seems that this would save money in the long run even though the lawyer charges a fee, I would hate to wait a long time then have to re-apply. Please share your experience with applying for social security disability, and whether or not you worked with a lawyer. I am wondering if there is any research backing up this claim, that could help me make a decision on whether to apply directly or via an attorney.

    • Hey Greggory, my name is Tammy, I live in N.C. I’ve been getting disability for the last 20 or so years due to a 2nd back injury at my job. I had nerve damage from the surgery and constant pain, so I have not been able to go back to any kind of work. I hired a lawyer due to my back, he had a Social Security lawyer partner that he had me talk to, and she took over my S.S. case since I had already applied. She told me to expect to be denied the first 2 times, and I was. The 3rd and final time is before a S.S. judge at a convenient meeting place for all, and your lawyer will present all your medical facts that help your case, then she asks you what changes have come about in your life-they get specific-and you have an chance to say whatever you want to the judge and whoever else they have sitting in at the meeting.
      For me, they had a woman that was a vocational rehab. specialist there to see if there was any kind of job she could think of that I could do with my injury/disability. To look at me, you wouldn’t know how badly my body is damaged, but I am 100% permanently, totally disabled.
      I don’t believe I would have been able to get through all the “Red Tape” that my attorney dealt with for me. The main thing is, tell the truth about everything. I know men-please don’t be offended-try to downplay how much pain they are in. You can’t do that when your talking about the rest of your life, and having to survive on next to nothing. Hope that helps some. Good luck to you.
      P.S. From the day you apply, S.S. starts counting your application, so if your approved, they go back to that original date and give you all that back pay, usually 2 years worth.

  8. I read on the https://www.forrestjacksonlaw.com/practice-areas/social-security-disability/ Forrest Jackson website (local lawyer), and several disability help websites in the last few weeks, claiming that if you worked with a lawyer to apply for social security disability, you would be more likely to get accepted the first time you applied, and have a much greater chance of getting approved during an appeal. Has anyone else on this site had any experience with this type of thing? It seems that this would save money in the long run even though the lawyer charges a fee, I would hate to wait a long time then have to re-apply. Please share your experience with applying for social security disability, and whether or not you worked with a lawyer. I am wondering if there is any research backing up this claim, that could help me make a decision on whether to apply directly or via an attorney.

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