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SSA Launches New Disability Coalition With Eye On How To ‘Make The Best Policy’

2014 September 25
by Steve Perrigo

On Wednesday, individuals from Allsup and about 75 other organizations representing insurance, healthcare, rehabilitation, policy, government, industry and nonprofit sectors attended the inaugural meeting of the National Disability Coalition. The group, which met by phone and in-person in Washington, D.C., also included a contingent from the Social Security Administration of about 40 employees—primarily from the Office of Disability Policy.

The group’s stated goal “is to provide an all-inclusive and coordinated process for gaining early input on targeted issues affecting individuals with a disability. The Disability Coalition gives interested stakeholders an opportunity to share their unique insights on topics of particular interest to SSA early in the process and directly with policy makers.”

It was the first meeting of the coalition and facilitated by Gina Clemons, SSA’s acting associate commissioner for disability policy. She guided discussion of three areas: (1) how to better involve stakeholders in the disability decision process, (2) factors in assessing function in work settings, and (3) enhancing medical evidence for Social Security disability decisions.

Dialogue was far-ranging with topics such as how the private long-term disability (LTD) carrier process compares to the SSDI process, how and when medical sources and treatment are used and the need for more timely information, the challenge of information gathering, and claims development through telephone and electronic methods.

Clemons explained that the discussion was designed to elicit ideas that can be applied to the disability program. “Policy is hard,” she said, adding that it is not a consensus group. In its materials, the SSA explained, “the activities under the Disability Coalition supplement, but do not replace the rule-making process followed by SSA under the Administrative Procedure Act.”

Participants were asked to use an online forum, SSA’s Idea Scale, to continue discussing the ideas introduced during the Sept. 24 meeting.  The group plans to meet three times per year, with the next meeting in January 2015.

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