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Social Security Agencies Push for Stricter Reporting in Disability Cases

The United States Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for managing the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, and of course, the Social Security retirement program.

congress.jpgSocial Security disability insurance benefits are made available to claimants who can no longer work due to injury or illness. A worker must have been employed for a certain about of time (broken up into quarterly credits), so that he or she has paid into the system, before SSA will approve claimant to receive disability benefits.

The Supplemental Security Income benefits program is designed to provide money for children of low income families and disabled elderly claimants. This program does not require claimant to have ever worked or worked enough to build up a certain number of credits, but it does have strict income requirements that must be met.
Workers’ compensation benefits are provided by private insurance companies or a state injury fund, and disputes between workers and their employers’ insurance companies are adjudicated by state agencies. The main difference between workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security benefits is that workers’ compensation is designed for those injured on the job, whereas Social Security Disability Insurance benefits claimants normally suffer from an illness or injury that is not work-related or is no longer covered by workers’ compensation. In some cases, a claimant may be compensated by both workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits.

According to a recent article from the National Law Review, SSA has request Congress make it mandatory for claimants to disclose whether they are also receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If the workers do not comply with this request, SSA is also requesting private insurance, state injury funds, and local governments be made mandatory reporters as well. This proposal is included in SSA’s proposed 2016 agency budget.

Under current law, SSA is required to reduce a claimant’s benefits if claimant is receiving disability benefits from workers’ compensation in addition to benefits from SSDI or SSI. However, under the current law, Social Security Administration relies upon claimants to self-report double compensation.

The proposed budget also requires SSA to have an ability to reduce a claimant’s total compensation benefits to a level at or below 80 percent of claimant’s average monthly earnings before the claimant suffered from a debilitating injury or illness. As our Boston disability lawyers understand, this concept of cutting benefits off at a level below what a healthy person could earn from working is a result of those who see Social Security Disability Insurance benefits as something lazy people will use to make as much or more from not working than they do from working and will be exaggerate the seriousness of their symptoms to avoid work. This is what SSA administrative law judges (ALJs) refer to as malingering. However, this could not be farther from the truth in most cases, as millions of Americans are suffering from debilitating illness or injury and are very much dependent upon Social security benefits to survive and be able to take care of their families.

If you are seeking Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Social Security Administration Proposes Mandatory Reporting of Workers’ Compensation Benefits , April 1, 2015 National Law Review
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