Why the Likely Re-Establishment of the Reconsideration Stage Could Hurt Disabled Pennsylvanians -

The aim of the disability insurance process is to identify applicants with qualifying debilitating medical conditions and supply them with the disability insurance benefits they need to survive. While this sounds simple and straightforward, in practicality, it is not. For many disabled individuals, the determination process comes with lengthy delays and results in a substantial rate of denial notices for individuals with legitimate claims.

The Social Security Administration understands that the determination process is not perfect. They continually seek to implement or update processes to improve the overall experience and efficiency of the system for disabled individuals who need help.

In this post, we’ll discuss a recent initiative to bring back the reconsideration stage of the determination process, and why we believe this could be a detriment to those in need of Social Security disability benefits.

Process Initiatives to Improve the Process of Disability Determination

To improve the determination process for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration has tested several different initiatives over the years. In 1997, the organization tested the Disability Redesign Full Process Model, which among other initiatives, examined the potential elimination of the reconsideration stage. In fact, our senior partner, Mike Silver, who at the time was President of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR), successfully argued before the Social Security Subcommittee in Washington, DC, that the reconsideration stage be eliminated. This proved beneficial as it helped to streamline the determination process to help those in need receive benefits quicker than before.

This test led to the implementation of the Disability Redesign Prototype Model in ten test states across the country, including Pennsylvania. This model removed the reconsideration stage, sending denied claims directly to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) to begin the appeals process.

Although this seemed, in our professional opinion, to be an effective process, SSA is now considering reinstating the reconsideration stage, which could be disadvantageous for those in need of disability benefits.

Potential Pros and Cons of the Reconsideration Stage

Proponents of the reinstatement of the reconsideration state claim the new process would lead to more claims being ultimately approved. Because denied claims would be automatically reviewed, these claimants could receive an approval after an initial denial, foregoing the appeal process altogether.
While this may be true, only a trivial number of cases are likely to be overturned in this stage, while all claimants receiving a denial would have to wait even longer to receive their notice. This means those needing benefits would have an extended wait time on top of the already extensive delays that currently exist.

As one of the leading disability law firms in the region, our team understands the importance of expediting the determination process for our clients, which is why we believe the reinstatement of the reconsideration process is not in the best interest of those the Social Security Administration is mandated to help.

When you need one of Philadelphia’s trusted disability attorneys, you can find the legal help you need at Silver & Silver. To learn more about the disability determination process or to speak with one of our top personal injury lawyers in Philadelphia, PA, contact us today at 484-207-0247.