Chairman Johnson Announces Hearing on Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process

July 18, 2018 — Hearing Advisory    — In Case You Missed It...   

WASHINGTON, D. C. – House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman Sam Johnson (R-TX) announced today that the Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “Examining Changes to Social Security’s Disability Appeals Process.”  The hearing will focus on recent and planned changes affecting the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability appeals process, the metrics the SSA uses to evaluate process changes, and the progress the SSA has made to address the appeals backlog.  The hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in 2020 Rayburn House Office Building, beginning at 10:00 AM.

Upon announcing the hearing, Chairman Johnson said:

“Recently, the Social Security Administration made a major decision to change the disability appeals process in certain states that could have real-life consequences for Americans. A decision of this magnitude should be made by a Senate-confirmed Commissioner, which we currently do not have.  In the meantime, it is Congress’ duty to examine whether this change makes sense for disability claimants and taxpayers.”  

BACKGROUND

The SSA is responsible for adjudicating disability determinations for its two disability programs, Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income.   If a claimant disagrees in whole or in part with the SSA’s decision, he or she has the right to appeal, first through the SSA’s administrative appeals process, and finally to federal court.  Generally, reconsideration is the first stage of appeal, and consists of a complete review of the initial claim, as well as any newly submitted evidence.

In 1999, the SSA began a disability redesign prototype project that eliminated the reconsideration stage in ten states (Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania) as part of a larger initiative to test modifications to the disability adjudication process.  While the nationwide reinstatement of reconsideration was included as a legislative proposal in the FY 2018 and 2019 President’s Budgets, the SSA has decided to reinstate the reconsideration stage nationwide absent Congressional action and under its administrative authority.