People who have a disability often have a difficult time being approved for Social Security Disability when they need it. One of the primary issues with the system is that it relies heavily on generalizations. Things can improve for people who need to receive benefits from SSDI by using a specialized system of work-related functional abilities before determining whether the person should be approved or denied benefits.
Medical conditions and injuries impact people in different ways. One person might have specific symptoms due to the condition or to a medication, but those might not be safe for another person with the same issue. By taking a look at how conditions impact each person, people who truly need SSDI could receive benefits and those who really don’t likely wouldn’t be able to get them.
Functional Assessment for Adults with Disabilities
A report entitled Functional Assessment for Adults with Disabilities backs the need to consider each individual’s abilities and disabilities when determining eligibility. As it stands now, the determination is based largely on a one-time event. For example, the person assessing the individual will make a note about whether the person can lift a specific amount of weight. It doesn’t account for the fact that the person might have the ability to lift that weight once, but might not be able to do it repeatedly in a single workday.
Another reason why testing used now isn’t effective is that it doesn’t take environmental factors into account. It is much different to be able to do an activity in an air-conditioned office, but doing it in a noisy, hot factory is another story. In order to provide an accurate idea of what a person can do, there must be multiple test types that are repeated over time.
What does this mean for applicants?
As of now, there are no planned changes to the way that determinations and assessments are handled. Some worry that implementing these changes would mean that applicants had to wait longer for benefits. Others note that this could ensure that only people who truly need the benefits are approved.
What is clear right now is that something has to be done to improve the time it takes to go through the process. People who apply now will often face denials even when an approval is warranted. They then must go through the grueling appeal process. Often, they need to seek legal assistance at this point.