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Social Security Administration to update disability program

Many people in New York who have applied for Social Security disability benefits know that the system is not perfect. Not only are there kinks along the way, but some things simply do not make sense anymore because they are out of date. Fortunately, the Social Security Administration has acknowledged this and plans to make several changes to multiple aspects of the program.

One major change to come is to something known as "the grid." The grid helps administrative law judges determine whether a person should receive benefits. For example, a judge can look at a person's age, his or her education level and the condition or disability he or she lives with to determine whether to approve or deny benefits. The grid is old, however, and some believe that it can be toyed with by people who may not otherwise qualify for benefits, so the SSA plans to update it.

Next, the SSA has decreased -- and may decrease even more -- the caseload that administrative law judges are expected to take on annually. Today, the cap is 800 for any judge, but it is possible it will get lower still to ensure that judges have enough time to properly review an application.

The last change we will discuss today is a planned update to the "dictionary" of job listings. Vocational experts working on disability applications consult the dictionary to make sure there are no jobs that an applicant might be able to perform. The listing was last updated in 1991, however, so it's likely that some jobs should be removed and others should be added.

There are many people in New York and elsewhere who deserve to benefit from the Social Security disability program. Hopefully these changes and others will help make the program better and more accurate than it is today.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Six Changes Social Security Is Making to Its Disability Program," Damian Paletta," Dec. 26, 2013

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