Big Changes to the Social Security Disability Claim System in 2018
The Social Security Administration has instituted a new set of regulations that will affect the claim representatives who assist SSDI claimants in navigating the long, complicated claim determination process. The new regulations took effect in July of this year.
To further complicate matters, the Supreme Court ruled in Lucia v. SEC that the federal government’s hiring process for administrative law judges, including the judges who handle SSDI claim determinations, was unconstitutional. This prompted President Trump to issue an executive order empowering the president to hire SSDI judges and other federal administrative law judges.
Impact of 2018 Social Security Disability Changes
While some experts say the effect of these changes will be modest, Social Security Disability attorneys worry that these new regulations, as well as the new appointment process, could create problems for SSDI applicants. It seems that even the SSA itself is still unclear as to the implications of the Lucia and the new executive order.
Some agencies, such as the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives and Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force, believe that the executive order and the new regulations could have a big negative impact on claims.
Appointment of Social Security Judges
Previously, judges were selected on a merit-based system. The new executive order will change the hiring process to one that is based in politics, which threatens judicial independence. Now, the sole qualification to become an SSDI administrative law judge is a license to practice law. An incoming administrative law judge with little SSDI experience may well lack the neutrality necessary to uphold relevant provisions of the Social Security Act.
SSA officials are scrambling to develop guidelines for hiring new judges under the new executive order, but for now it seems unclear what qualifications will be required, how much actual hearing experience they will need to have, and what they must to know about the administrative process in general.
New Social Security Disability Regulations Create Uncertainty
Another concern is the overall tone of the new regulations, which seem to treat representatives in a more adversarial posture. In the best case scenario, a claimant and the SSA should work together to ensure that the correct decision is made as quickly as possible. The executive order seems to even limit a representative’s ability to advise a claimant about getting medical treatment, and what treatment options may available, for fear that such suggestions may taint evidence in the eyes of an adjudicator. The regulations seem to create uncertainty in terms of potential liability exposure for claim representatives.
It remains to be seen what impact these regulations and the new executive order will have on Social Security Disability claims. Our Long Beach Social Security Disability will continue to monitor the situation to ensure that our clients are protected and clearly understand all their options.
Long Beach Social Security Lawyers
If you or a loved one is unable to work due to a disabling injury, medical condition or disease our skilled and experienced lawyers are here to help you get the maximum Social Security Disability benefits for which you qualify.
The Law Office of Cantrell Green is a group of highly qualified and experienced disability attorneys who have obtained millions of dollars in Social Security Disability benefits for thousands of clients in Long Beach, Orange County and the greater Los Angeles. Our lawyers care about every client, and fight tirelessly to obtain the benefits you deserve.