Rep. Levin Applauds SSA Decision Partially Suspending Regulation Limiting The Rights Of Disabled Americans To Appeal

Jan 31, 2008 Issues: Social Security
(Washington D.C.)- The Social Security Administration (SSA) notified Congress late yesterday that the agency would suspend some parts of a controversial proposed regulation that would sharply restrict appeal rights for severely disabled individuals applying for benefits.

Under the proposed regulation, severely disabled persons would have been denied access to over $2 billion in Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits over the next ten years – not because their disabilities were not severe enough, but because they could not successfully navigate the complex new procedural requirements established by the proposed rule.  Those denied would also have lost access to Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

“We should be looking for ways to improve, not complicate, the current disability system,” said Rep. Sander Levin, House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee member.  “It is good that they got the message and won’t be putting up additional roadblocks.  Our immediate priority is making sure SSA has enough disability claims examiners and judges to dramatically reduce the backlog of unprocessed claims.”

The proposed regulation engendered a strong outcry from Congress and advocacy organizations.  A letter objecting to the regulation was sent in December by eleven House Committee and Subcommittee chairs.  Letters objecting to the proposal were also sent by the Senate Finance Committee and other Senate leaders, and almost 500 comments were filed on the regulation, primarily in opposition. 

Other proposed Social Security reforms from the Bush Administration could similarly threaten benefits for disabled Americans.  The Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee will continue to provide close oversight of all proposed changes.