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Comment Opportunity on Social Security Proposal Affecting People with Mental Illness

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide needed financial assistance to many people in the United States who have a mental health condition and are unable to work.

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has proposed changes that would alter the way disability determinations are made, potentially cutting $2.6 billion in benefits. It is already too complicated for people to access these important benefits, and these changes would only make it more difficult – putting benefits at risk for Americans with mental health conditions.

What is SSA proposing to change?

Currently, when a person is determined to have a disability, they are assigned by SSA to one of three categories:

  • Medical improvement expected (MIE)
  • Medical improvement possible (MIP)
  • Medical improvement not expected (MINE)

Individuals with a mental illness could be put into any of these three categories. The category a person is put in determines how frequently they must undergo continuing disability reviews (CDRs), which are regular reviews to determine if a person continues to meet the disability requirements under the law.

The SSA is proposing to make three changes:

  1. Adding a new category, called “medical improvement likely” (MIL) between “medical improvement expected” and “medical improvement possible”;
  2. Revising the criteria that the SSA follows to assign a person to one of these categories; and
  3. Revising the frequency of a continuing disability review for individuals in the “medical improvement not expected” category.

Why is this proposal harmful?

Qualifying for disability benefits is already a difficult, time-consuming and stressful process. Too often, people must apply repeatedly, often waiting years to qualify.

Undergoing a continuing disability review is equally difficult to navigate, requiring time, extensive paperwork and, in some cases, visiting SSA doctors. Many individuals spend weeks working with family members, providers and others to gather all of the needed information and submit forms correctly. Benefits can be cut off for missing a step or making even a minor mistake, causing much additional stress. For people with a mental health condition, this can cause their symptoms to worsen.

These changes would mean that many people with mental illness will be required to go through a complicated process that could put their benefits at risk on a more frequent basis.

This jeopardizes not only a person’s Social Security benefits, but also other critical benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, housing assistance, and food assistance that are tied to SSA’s finding of an individual having a disability.

Take Action

Deadline: Comments must be submitted by Friday, January 31, 2020 at 11:59 PM EST.

Submit comments to the SSA here. Let them know how harmful this rule will be. Numbers count, so it is important for you to raise your voice to object to this proposed rule.

Want to have more impact? Add a personal story about how you or somebody you know relies on SSDI or SSI.

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