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Claiming SSD/SSI benefits just got easier thanks to 2 changes

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2024 | Social Security Disability (SSD)

Like most government agencies, the Social Security Administration (SSA) is slow to change with the times – so updates to the Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application process are big news.

Recently, the federal agency has applied two new changes to the way it evaluates a disability applicant’s ability to perform work activity. Both changes stand to improve the application process for beneficiaries, which is always welcome.

SSA will look at your past 5 years of work activity, not 15

To determine if someone is disabled, SSA has to consider what sort of work activity they’ve done in the past to see if they are still capable of performing that kind of work. An applicant’s “transferable skills” can also directly affect their qualification for other kinds of work. 

Up until recently, SSA required applicants to describe all of their work activity for a full 15 years prior to the start of their disability. Now, they’ll only be required to describe the last five years of work activity. This not only reflects the reality of just how “transferable” certain skills may be, and makes the claim’s evaluation process easier and faster.

SSA just eliminated 114 outdated occupations from its database

Before an applicant can be denied SSDI or SSI at a reconsideration or hearing, a vocational expert has to weigh in. The vocational expert’s job is to establish – based on whatever evidence there is in the applicant’s file – what kinds of jobs the applicant could still do, despite their limitations.

However, the database of jobs they have been using to indicate that someone is “not disabled” was so outdated that it included jobs that either no longer exist or no longer exist in sufficient quantities to be valid career choices. That includes things like “canary breeder” and “motion-picture projectionist,” which would, indeed, be novelties today. As of June, 2024, more than 100 such occupations have been removed from SSA’s usable list. 

While these are positive improvements to the system, make no mistake: Securing SSD or SSI benefits is still not easy without the appropriate legal assistance.