Social Security’s Proposed Fourth Category: What Does It Mean?

Social Security’s Proposed Fourth Category: What Does It Mean?

proposed fourth social security disability category
The proposed fourth social security disability category has a broad range of ramifications.

Social security is frequently changing, and no change goes without consequences. Recently, the Trump administration issued a proposed fourth social security disability category. But what does it all mean, and how will your benefits be affected? Social Security Disability Advocates USA is here with the answers you seek.

The Current State of Affairs

As things are right now, the Social Security Administration (SSA) puts disability beneficiaries into three judgment categories: Medical Improvement Expected, Medical Improvement Possible, and Medical Improvement Not Expected. These categories aid in assessing how often to review a beneficiary’s disability eligibility. 

If medical improvement is not expected, disability reviews may occur once every seven years. However, if medical improvement is expected, for example, a disability review could take place every 6 to 18 months. Such disability reviews are a necessary part of the application process. Follow-up is important in case a beneficiary’s health improves to the point they can get back into the workforce. 

Also, follow-up is important in case a beneficiary’s health declines, thereby necessitating fewer disability reviews and in a greater span of time. While the process of applying isn’t easy (many people don’t receive benefits on their first application), disability reviews are just one of many safeguards in place to make sure those who claim benefits are truly eligible.

The Change: An Additional Category and What It Means

The Trump administration has recently put forward a proposed fourth social security disability category. In addition to the other three judgment categories, a fourth category—Medical Improvement Likely—would aid in determining the severity of a person’s condition and how frequently they need disability reviews. The proposed category would have a disability review period of once every two years. This is a shorter time frame than both Medical Improvement Not Expected and Medical Improvement Possible.

In addition, many people from social security’s “Step 5” classification would fall into the proposed fourth category. A person is a step-5 recipient when they are financially eligible but don’t necessarily meet social security’s medical listing requirements, yet their impairment still prevents them from working. Many elderly people and children are step-5 recipients. Subjecting such people to more frequent disability reviews has some people confused and upset.

Jennifer Burdick, supervising attorney with Community Legal Services in Philadelphia, stated to The Philadelphia Inquirer that labeling these people in such a way is “a radical departure from past practice. There’s no medical or scientific basis to say they’ll get better.” 

Jonathan Stein, a former Community Legal Services attorney added, “There’s an underhandedness to this. It’s ideological, not based on medicine or science.”

Some believe the additional category is not necessary and only makes it more difficult for beneficiaries to continue receiving benefits. It is already notoriously difficult to receive social security benefits in the first place, and having to complete ongoing paperwork for years on end is a heavy burden, one that harshly punishes even a slight mistake or failure to comply with the rules. Because of this, some believe the new category is just a way to weed out those who aren’t diligent in keeping up with the procedures.

What Should You Do?

The proposed fourth social security disability category has not yet gone into effect. This is good news: the proposal is available for public commentary through mid-January 2020. After this period ends, the future is uncertain. The proposed change may go into effect, or it may not. Regardless, there are some things you can do to protect your benefits.

  • Speak With an Attorney—An experienced attorney advocate from SSDA USA can help guide you in the right direction during this turbulent time.
  • Be Proactive—Take steps to prepare for any changes ahead of time so the stresses of adaptation don’t hit you all at once.
  • Know the Process—Read up on social security disability application processes and on how to continue receiving your benefits so you know what to expect

Wondering How the Proposed Fourth Social Security Disability Category May Affect You?

If you’re concerned about your social security disability benefits, contact SSDA USA today. We’ll speak with you to address any questions you have. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200, or get in touch with us online via a contact form or our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions to yourself; contact SSDA USA today!

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

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