SSDI Continuing Disability Reviews
Here's a set of questions recently sent in by Dan. The response to this situation and set of questions follows immediately after.
"A little worried. Several back and spinal surgeries and can function ok with medication. Sometimes I even over due it and I cant do anything for days due to the pain levels. In other words, sometimes I may not appear to be disabled. But observers cant see how much pain Im in, or is being masked by pain medication. Ive been on SSDI for about 8 years I guess. Once I was able to I returned to college to be re-educated for work that would accommodate my disability. Last year I finally found a part time job. That lasted just over a year and I have not been able to find another one since then. I was in a lot of pain at times, but I pushed through it because I dont like being constricted to SSDI. That being said, I also dont want to be dropped from SSDI until I can find work that I am able to do with disabilities.
Then, recently I was called up for a review, and read how the Obama Administration has ordered a review of everyone on SSDI to " See how many can be dropped from SSDI to save the government money"
This scares the heck out of me. If they were just doing a review for reviews I wouldnt worry as I have been through those. But this is a Witch hunt to lower the expenses of the government. I guess so they can hand more over the wall street or pay for the war. I dont know. But when someone is looking for a reason , they can usually find one no matter what the circumstances.
What is the real story of the hunt to rid SSDI of the disabled so they can "save money" ?
I've also read, and have been told by the local police I know that SSDI hires private investigators who get bonuses for helping them get people off SSDI. The police I know said that they have arrested some PI's for breaking into SSDI receivers homes to find out if they are running an unreported business from their homes. Knowing a few PI's myself, I would not doubt this. But to pay bonuses only encourages this type of act, and screams that SSDI will do whatever they want to get the bottom line they want. They dont really care about us. Just the cash flow. Wow, I get a whole $750 a month. thats going to really help the budget out a lot aint it. I guess if they can dump a million of us, it really will.
I also read where the Supreme court says that someone is not considered disabled under the ADA if they can function fairly normal with the help of medication?? Is this the rule for SSDI qualifications now as well? Because as soon as people are dropped, they wont be able to function fairly normal without the money or support to get treatment and medication for their problem. I know I would be in so much pain without my medication I could not stand living. I know, I tried to wean myself off the medication as I dont like taking it. I could not endure the pain that I have without the medication to mask it. But, I guess if they do drop people like myself so they can say they cut the budget, they wont have to worry as many might end their own lives than live in such pain, so they would not be appealing or re-applying later on. It would be a win win for the Government and SSDI. Who apparently dont really care about anything but making the budget appear to look good.
So hold on to what you have, because it appears that you we are all on the chopping block for political and financial reasons."
I am going to respond to some of the key elements of your comments, and hopefully clear up some of your concerns with regard to your disability benefit continuation.
Regarding the current administration ordering a general SSDI review of cases: to my knowledge the Obama Administration has not ordered a review of "everyone" on SSDI.
All disability cases come up for periodic reviews that generally occur about every three years, although there are some disability beneficiaries who receive seven year review diaries (individuals with impairments that are considered to be severe and permanent). Social Security has a difficult enough time just keeping up with the expense and manpower needed to process routine continuing disability reviews, and it is highly unlikely that Social Security would take on this kind of project at any time in the forseeable future.
Regarding the police and private investigators, I can tell you from my experience with Social Security that they absolutely do not hire private investigators to spy on disability claimants and they would never pay bonuses for this kind of thing.
Social Security only investigates reports of fraud, and these reports generally come from disgruntled friends, spouses, ex-spouses, family members, or neighbors. Even then, Social Security calls the individual and asks them to come to their local Social Security office to give their statement as to the legitimacy of the fraud report. Most of these reports involve allegations of work activity that is "under the table" or that someone is misusing benefits that belong to someone else. Very few of these referrals ever amount to anything concrete, but those that are genuinely fraud are given to the Social Security fraud unit for further investigation.
I think that your local police might be confusing Social Security disability recipients with individuals who are receiving workman's compensation benefits. Workman's compensation benefits are paid by insurance companies and from the stories I have heard these insurance companies do hire private investigators to follow individuals they feel are possibly receiving workman's compensation under false pretenses. Unfortunately, these insurance companies often think the ends justify the means, which means honest individuals have their privacy invaded and suffer mental duress because of these tactics.
Re: "I also read where the Supreme court says that someone is not considered disabled under the ADA if they can function fairly normal with the help of medication?? Is this the rule for SSDI qualifications now as well?
I am definitely not an expert on the ADA's definition of disability (it has nothing to do with the processing of SSDI or SSI claims) nor am I knowledgeable as to what particular Supreme Court ruling you are referring to (I am a non-attorney and a former disability examiner as well as a former medicaid caseworker).
There is no clear cut answer with regard to the second part of your question. SSDI rules and guidelines do consider compliance and response to medication when making disability determinations based upon certain conditions but not all conditions.
For instance, Social Security does consider medication compliance and response when evaluating asthma or attention deficit disorder. It just depends on what an individual's disabling condition is and what effect their medication has on their overall functional ability.
I hope that this clarifies some of your concerns about Social Security continuing disability reviews.
Return to the Social Security Disability SSI Benefits Blog
Second Disability Appeal - What makes it different from the First?
What Does Social Security Consider To Be a Disability?
Application for Disability - applying for benefits
Disability Claim Denied
How to get Approved for Disability Benefits - Information on disability claims
Social Security Back Pay
Total Disability - What does this mean for social security disability