Another Change is Coming to Social Security – Full Impact on Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has recently announced a pivotal change in its disability benefits evaluation process. This update has been long-anticipated and aims to simplify the application procedure and expedite decision times. The key change involves the reduction of the work history review period from 15 years to just five years.

Streamlining the Process

Previously, applicants had to provide detailed work history spanning 15 years. This often led to challenges as many found it difficult to recall precise details from such a long timeframe. This difficulty sometimes resulted in inaccuracies in reports, potentially jeopardizing their applications.

By narrowing the focus to the most recent five years, the SSA hopes to alleviate this burden, making it easier for applicants to recall or access relevant information.

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Simplified Reporting

In addition to the reduced work history requirement, the SSA is revising its policy on what counts as gainful employment. Work experience lasting less than a month will no longer be considered relevant. This change is expected to further simplify the reporting requirements for applicants, making the overall process more straightforward and less time-consuming.

Benefits of the New Rule

According to SSA Commissioner Martin O’Malley, “This new rule will lessen the burden and time our applicants face when filling out information about their work history and will make it easier for them to focus on the most current and relevant details about their past work. It also improves the quality of the information our frontline workers receive to make decisions, improving customer service, and reducing case processing time and overall wait times.”

Addressing Delays

The SSA has long faced criticism for its lengthy response times and delays in processing applications. The latest changes are part of the agency’s efforts to address these issues. The SSA stated, “It will reduce administrative burdens for applicants and help more people with disabilities receive government benefits and services if they are eligible. The final rule announces updates that will improve the application process for disability benefits and reduce the time applicants wait for a decision.”

Perspective on Beneficiaries

As of May, over 7.2 million disabled workers were eligible for Social Security benefits, with the average monthly benefit amounting to approximately $1,500. This results in the government disbursing about $11 million in support each month.

The SSA oversees two key programs related to benefits for disabled workers: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs are crucial for the survival of some of the most vulnerable populations in the country.

Enhancing Support

According to the SSA, “When people become disabled under the statutory definition the Social Security Administration must follow, the agency helps them meet their basic needs and sustain a higher quality of life. The new rule makes it easier for people applying for benefits by focusing on their most recent relevant work activity while still providing enough information to continue making accurate determinations.”

This is not the only change the agency has made to its benefit programs recently to improve access. A recent change to the SSI rules will exclude food purchases from family and friends from being counted as income, assets, or other reportable content. This adjustment is aimed at reducing food insecurity among beneficiaries and improving their quality of life.

The SSA’s new rule marks a significant step towards improving the disability benefits application process. By focusing on a shorter, more recent work history, and simplifying the criteria for gainful employment, the agency aims to reduce administrative burdens and expedite decisions. These changes are part of ongoing efforts to enhance support for disabled workers and improve their quality of life.


What is the new SSA work history requirement?

Only the past five years of work history are considered.

How will this change help applicants?

It simplifies the process and reduces the burden of recalling long-term work history.

What is the impact on short-term employment?

Work lasting less than a month is no longer relevant.

What are SSDI and SSI?

They are key SSA programs providing benefits to disabled workers.

How many disabled workers are eligible for benefits?

Over 7.2 million disabled workers are eligible.

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