Social Security announces major change in disability benefits

Amelia Ross
6 Min Read

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is making significant changes to help disabled Americans get the support they need. For many years, outdated job titles like nut sorter and pneumatic tube operator were used to deny disability benefits. This week, the government announced it will update its occupations database, removing 114 obsolete jobs. This change is part of a broader effort to modernize the system and ensure fair treatment for disabled individuals.

Updated Occupations Database

Outdated Jobs Removed

The SSA has decided to remove 114 job titles from its Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT). These jobs are no longer relevant because they have been replaced by machines or moved overseas. Some examples include barrel assembler and reptile farmer. Social Security agents previously used these outdated jobs to deny benefit requests, claiming that applicants were “not incapacitated.”

Impact on Disability Determinations

By updating the occupations database, the SSA aims to make its disability determination process more fair and accurate. The federal courts had questioned 13 of the DOT jobs used to deny benefits, such as dance hall host and nut sorter. The SSA will now implement stricter evidentiary criteria to ensure that only relevant and current job titles are considered.

Disability Pride Month

Celebrating Disability Pride

July is Disability Pride Month in the United States, honoring the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted over 30 years ago. According to the US Census Bureau, around 42.5 million Americans have disabilities, making up nearly 13% of the civilian population. This group includes individuals with difficulties in walking, hearing, vision, cognitive functions, self-care, or independent living.

SSA’s Role in Supporting Disabled Americans

Since 1935, the SSA has helped millions of people, including retired workers, survivors, disabled individuals, and low-income seniors. Through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, many disabled Americans receive monthly payments to cover their living expenses, as most are unable to work due to their disabilities.

Ensuring Up-to-Date Disability Programs

Adapting to Economic Changes

The Department of Labor first created the DOT list, but it was shelved decades ago due to the economy’s shift away from manufacturing jobs. The SSA still used this outdated list in the final stages of the application process. Now, the SSA aims to consider only the most relevant occupations when assessing disability benefit eligibility.

Commitment to Fairness

Social Security Commissioner Martin O’Malley stated that it makes sense to select professions that are now scarce in the American economy. By removing these outdated job titles, decision-makers will no longer use them to reject disability applications. This move is expected to make it easier for disabled individuals to access the benefits they need.

Reactions and Future Expectations

Positive Reactions

Many people, especially disabled Americans, have praised this change. They felt the system was not helping them and hope that updating the occupations database will provide fairer treatment.

Challenges Ahead

However, some believe that while this change is positive, the damage caused by the outdated system may not be easily undone. The SSA is working to implement this change quickly, so new applicants have a better chance of qualifying for disability benefits.

The SSA’s decision to update its occupations database marks a significant step towards fairer treatment for disabled Americans. By removing obsolete job titles, the SSA aims to ensure that disability benefit determinations are based on relevant and current job opportunities.

This change reflects the SSA’s commitment to supporting disabled individuals and adapting to the evolving economy. As the SSA implements these updates, many hope for a more just and supportive system for disabled Americans.

1. What is the Social Security Administration (SSA) doing to help disabled Americans?

The SSA is updating its occupations database by removing 114 outdated job titles that were previously used to deny disability benefits. This change aims to make the disability determination process fairer and more accurate.

2. Why were these outdated job titles being used?

The outdated job titles were from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), which was shelved decades ago. These jobs were still used in the SSA’s final stages of the application process to determine if applicants were “not incapacitated.”

3. What is Disability Pride Month?

Disability Pride Month, celebrated in July, honors the Americans with Disabilities Act, enacted over 30 years ago. It recognizes the contributions and challenges of the 42.5 million Americans with disabilities.

4. How will the removal of outdated job titles affect disability benefit claims?

By removing these outdated job titles, the SSA aims to ensure that disability benefit determinations are based on relevant and current job opportunities. This is expected to make the process fairer and help more disabled individuals qualify for benefits.

5. What challenges remain despite this change?

While the update is positive, some believe that the damage caused by the outdated system may not be easily undone. The SSA is working to implement the change quickly to improve the chances for new applicants to qualify for disability benefits.

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