Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Hatch Announces Trio of Bills to Improve Integrity of Disability Insurance Program
WASHINGTON – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today announced three bills aimed to improve the administration and integrity of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The bills modernize outdated “grid rules” used to determine disability, make it easier for beneficiaries to navigate return-to-work supports and incentives, and align standards for medical evaluations with those of the Medicare program.
“For far too long, the SSDI program has failed to keep up with the rapid changes in medicine, technology and education,” Hatch said. “These bills are the first step in modernizing the SSDI program to make it more effective and efficient for both beneficiaries and taxpayers. With the trust fund expected to be exhausted in 2016, Congress should continue to examine how to address the financial challenges facing SSDI while also looking for ways to improve the program for beneficiaries.”
The Guiding Responsible and Improved Disability Decisions (GRIDD) Act, S. 1194, requires the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update its medical and vocational “grids” used by disability decision makers. The “grid rules” use age, education, past work experience and capacity for work to create guidelines that assist in determining whether an individual is or is not disabled. SSA published the grid rules in 1979, but the rules have not be updated to stay current with the modern workplace or developments in medicine and technology. This update would also include rules related to applicants’ inability to communicate in English, based on a recent instance in Puerto Rico where it was reported the “grid rules” in place would prevent Spanish-speaking claimants from finding work. Additional background available here.
The Promoting Opportunity through Informed Choice Act, S. 1197, provides support for disability beneficiaries that want to return to work by requiring the SSA to develop public online tools to assist beneficiaries in determining the impact of earnings on their eligibility for benefits they receive. Additional background available here.
The Disability Evidence Integrity Act, S. 1198, deters the SSA from making determinations on disabled individuals to receive DI benefits based on evidence provided by individuals who have been convicted of a felony or are expelled from participating in any Federal health care program. These individuals are sometimes referred to as “dirty docs.” Additional background available here.
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