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New proposal could significantly affect SSD program

It is no secret that the application process for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in Michigan can be challenging. After filing an initial application, in which one has to provide a significant amount of information about medical and work history, the Social Security Disability claim will be reviewed by a claims examiner working for the state. Many people wait months to hear if their benefits have been approved, only to find that their initial claims have been denied, requiring them to go through a lengthy appeals process.

Even if a claim for benefits gets approved, it is important to know that there is no guarantee that these benefits will continue. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will periodically conduct continuing disability reviews to determine whether the condition still entitles one to SSD benefits. If the SSA finds that the condition has improved to the point where the applicant could return to work or finds that they are no longer disabled, the benefits will be stopped.

The frequency of these reviews depends on the status of the disability. Generally, the SSA will perform a review every three years, if the recipient has a condition the SSA expects will improve. If the condition is expected to improve sooner than three years, the reviews may be completed earlier. If one has a permanent disability or condition that is not expected to improve, the SSA conducts a review every seven years.

Recently, the administration issued a proposal that could increase the frequency of paperwork reviews of SSD recipients. Under a new category by the SSA, entitled, "medical improvement likely," some SSD recipients may be reviewed every two years. There is concern that many people, particularly older adults and children, may be at risk for losing their benefits if these new rules go into effect.

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