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Bill introduced aims to help SSDI recipients to go back to work

Many Pennsylvania residents rely on Social Security disability benefits, but will they always need to? While the Social Security Administration has a process to review a recipient's case periodically to ensure they still qualify for benefits, some legislators feel this is not enough.

A bill, known as The Social Security Disability Insurance Return to Work Act, has recently been introduced in Congress. Currently, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is meant to be a financial safety net for those who have become disabled and can no longer work. However, some believe that some SSD benefit recipients could, with the right help, go back into the workforce, but choose not to. The Act aims to change this by creating incentives for recipients to return to work and creating temporary benefits for some recipients.

Currently, the Social Security Administration divides recipients into three groups: those whose medical condition is expected to improve, those whose medical condition may possibly improve and those whose medical condition is not expected to improve. These categories determine how often the SSA will review the recipient's case to see if they still qualify for benefits. However, the SSA has is seriously behind in these reviews.

The Act would make it so that there are four classifications of disabilities. It would add a category for recipients whose medical disability is likely to improve. This category would fall between the category of recipients whose conditions are expected to improve and those whose conditions may possibly improve. The Act will then take the top two categories -- recipients whose disabilities are expected to or likely to improve, and make their benefits temporary, although a process for re-applying for benefits would be in place. These recipients would be allowed to earn more than the level of substantial gainful activity -- $1,130 monthly -- without losing benefits while they remain in the needs-based period. However, for each dollar the recipient earns above the substantial gainful activity level, the recipient's benefits dollar would go down by 50 cents.

While it remains to be seen how far this bill will go, some feel that it will make it so that a disability benefits recipient can smoothly transfer from receiving benefits to going back to work. Individuals who have questions about how this bill may affect them may need to seek legal help.

Source: The Daily Signal, "Finally, a Proposal to Help Disability Beneficiaries Return to Work," Romina Boccia, Aug. 3, 2016

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee