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As new rules take hold, some worry SSD backlog will increase

A previous post on this blog talked a new rule issued by the Social Security Administration which would have potential impact on those applying for disability benefits in Houston, Texas, as well as in other parts of the country. Basically, the rule ended the practice of the Social Security Administration's giving heightened credibility to a Social Security Disability applicant's treating physician about the applicant's disability.

While the initial reaction to this rule was somewhat muted, some are now wondering whether a rule change at this juncture is well-advised, especially with the notorious backlog of administrative appeals causing lengthy delays, sometimes approaching two years, in the application process.

According to the Administration, the new rule was needed to fight a fraudulent practice. Some were concerned that a treating physician, while he or she may know a patient better, may also be more willing to say that a patient was disabled so the patient could collect SSD benefits, even if the medical evidence did not support this conclusion.

The net effect of this rule, however, may be that the Administration denies more disability applications up front, meaning the number of people who will require an appeal, in order to get SSD benefits will increase. This will in turn mean longer waits, as there is no sign that the Administration will be hiring more administrative law judges or a large number of other employees any time soon. Already, the Administration denies more than half of the applications it receives.

Although this new rule could spell longer waits for Houston residents who need disability benefits, it does not mean that, in the end, fewer people will be able to get disability. The new rule may simply require better documentation when presenting a disability application. Getting the right documentation is often something a qualified Texas Social Security disability attorney can help with.

Source: KCUR 89.3, "New rule may worsen backlog for Social Security disability claimants," Alex Smith, June 7, 2017.

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