The process of applying for federal disability assistance has changed in Pennsylvania and for many applicants, it will become longer and more complicated.
Anyone applying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income will face an additional step in what already can be a lengthy process. The change is being criticized by disability advocates, attorneys and members of Congress.
Previously, anyone applying for disability assistance whose initial application is denied could request a hearing before an administrative law judge. The average wait from a hearing request until disposition of a claim was roughly 17 months.
Starting April 20, 2019, an applicant denied at this first stage must appeal in a process called reconsideration. If they are turned down a second time, they can request a hearing.
Pennsylvania is one of 10 states that hasn’t had reconsideration since 1999. The process has been reinstated so there is a uniform process for disability claimants across the country, said Daniel O’Connor, a regional spokesman for the Social Security Administration.
Existing applications are impacted by the change and are not grandfathered into the prior process.