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SSA Disability Forum Focuses On Upcoming Reconsideration Level Changes

2018 November 30
by Steve Perrigo

The Social Security Administration (SSA) hosted its latest National Disability Forum, Nov. 28, 2018, in Washington, D.C., to gather ideas for “Enhancing the Reconsideration Process.” Among the panelists and speakers were representatives from the SSA; the House Ways & Means Social Security Subcommittee; the National Council on Disability; organizations comprised of disability examiners who work at state Disability Determination Services (DDS); and trade groups for claimant representatives.

The agency didn’t invite discussion of its controversial initiative to reinstate the Reconsideration level of the Social Security Disability program in 10 states.  Nor did the agency initially provide the group with any details about the roll out of their plan.

However, Kathryn Olson, Democratic staff director for the Social Security subcommittee included a critical detail in her presentation – the agency’s fast-approaching reinstatement timeline. In response to a question from the audience, an agency representative confirmed the dates, and Allsup later obtained hiring data. The reinstatement adds a total of 777 staff who will be trained to administer and adjudicate Reconsideration appeals in the 10 states.

Olson also reported that the subcommittee, as well as both Democratic and Republican members from 48 states in the House and 10 states in the Senate, had requested the agency reverse its decision to reinstate Reconsideration in the skip states. Several panelists reiterated their organization’s position that the Reconsideration level should be eliminated from the disability program entirely.

Other wide-ranging topics discussed in the three-hour program were recommendations for enhancements and, generally, fell into evergreen subject areas. Panelists discussed ideas for improving the collection of medical evidence, obtaining qualified contractors to conduct Consultative Exams (CEs), bolstering staff training on agency policies and procedures, stronger one-on-one communication with claimants and more effective use of technology tools.

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