Recently, in April, the House Oversight Committee held hearings examining the disability determination and adjudication process. Based upon certain recommendations, it appears that disability claimants could be in for a wave of cessations. Cessations occur when people are reevaluated and cut off their benefits on the basis that they have either improved, or that medical advancements have been made regarding their conditions, such that they could be improved through current care and thus can not be currently considered disabled. It was recommended that SSA conduct more timely reviews (continuing disability reviews), that SSA should expand the use of reviewing ALJ determinations when an ALJ has a very high award rate, and that social media accounts should be reviewed and incorporated into a continuing disability review.
It also appears that medical vocational guidelines will be expanded, and that the Appeals Council should make broader use of own motion review. This occurs when a favorable decision has been rendered by an Administrative Law Judge; yet, the Appeals Council see fits to review the decision, and often reverses the decision of the Administrative Law Judge. This procedure is very much like an audit by the I.R.S. To further streamline the programs, it is also recommended that SSA increase the number of video hearings. It also appears that there will be investigations undertaken in terms of activities relating to current recipients of disability.
All in all, the foundation has been laid for a system of reviews not seen since the early 1980’s, when approximately thirty percent (30%) of disability recipients lost their benefits and had to reestablish via the appeals process and hearings with Administrative Law Judges.
Should you or anyone you know who is receiving disability receive a cessation notice, do not hesitate to obtain legal representation to protect the benefits you are receiving.