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Proposed disability benefits change raises concerns

Many people in Indiana have expressed concern about a proposal by the Trump administration that could change the application process for Social Security disability benefits. The process is already very rigorous, with the vast majority of applicants rejected in their initial applications. Many people who have become disabled and unable to work as a result must go through a lengthy appeal and hearing process before obtaining the benefits they need to support their living expenses.

However, the administration published a proposal that would add an additional category to the list of qualifications for Social Security disability benefits. It would also elevate the number and frequency of reviews of each person's disability benefits, which verify continuing eligibility to receive benefits. The Social Security Administration extended public comment on the proposals until Jan. 31, 2020, due to concern expressed by disability advocates. Currently, disability claimants who are receiving disability benefits are classified with their medical improvement chances as "not expected," "expected" or "possible." The proposal would add a fourth category, "likely." It is expected that people aged 50 to 65 with bad health and no income would be most frequently characterized this way.

These recipients would have a review of their medical records every two years. They may need to attend examinations, go to meetings and fill out forms. For many people with disabilities, going through this process could be arduous. Advocates say that this will put applicants at risk of losing much-needed funds. They also say that the category is unnecessary, especially as most people's health gets worse, not better, as they age.

Applying for Social Security benefits can be complex and confusing, but these supports may be critical for an individual. An attorney who handles Social Security disability claims may help an applicant navigate the process and advocate for the benefits they need.

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