February 01,2019

Press Contact:

Taylor Harvey (202) 224-4515 

Trump Proposal Threatens Due Process in Social Security Appeals

Proposed Regulation Would Eliminate Americans’ Right to In-Person Hearing on Disability Appeals, Threatening Earned Benefits

Washington, D.C. – Top Democrats responsible for Social Security policy in the House and Senate today called on the Social Security Administration to withdraw a proposed rule that would limit the right of Americans to receive an in-person appeals hearing if their initial application for Social Security benefits is denied. Workers who are eligible to apply for these benefits have contributed to Social Security for years, paying into the program with each paycheck.

“This change would deprive millions of Americans of their constitutional right to due process and result in hearings which are less fair and less efficient. This proposal is harmful and not justified and we request that SSA withdraw this proposed rule,” the members wrote. 

The letter was signed by Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Senate Finance Social Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson, D-Conn., and House Ways and Means Worker & Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis, D-Ill.

In the letter, the members outlined why video hearings are inferior to in-person hearings. In a video hearing, the ALJ may be limited in their ability to thoroughly evaluate the impact that an individual’s impairments have on their ability to work, and disabled individuals may not be able to fully and effectively present their case. The Social Security Administration has a large backlog of individuals awaiting an appeal hearing, and the delays cause significant harm to individuals who have worked years to earn their Social Security benefits but have suffered a career-ending injury or illness.

“Individuals who request a hearing before an ALJ currently wait two to three years, or longer, from the time they first file their application to receiving a hearing decision. To deny them the opportunity for a face-to-face hearing, when so much is on the line and they have endured so many months without income and in ill health, is inappropriate.” 

The full letter can be found here.