A new bill, negotiated between Congress and the White House was recently released. This bill is important for recipients of benefits from two major federal programs, Medicare and Social Security. It is particularly relevant for those who receive Social Security Disability Insurance.

What is SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance was not part of the original Social Security Act, and was added in 1957. Known commonly as SSDI, this benefit was designed to provide supplementary income to people who are restricted from employment, due to temporary or permanent disabilities.

Because SSDI benefits are part of the Social Security program, many recipients are left wondering how the budget and Social Security reform will affect them. As of 2014, over ten million Americans receive Social Security benefits, which amounts to more than 4% of the federal budget. With trust funds due to dry up in 2016, current recipients of Social Security retirement benefits could see their benefits cut by 19% next year. It is understandable that disability attorneys have been watching the situation closely.

The Impact of the New Bill

The good news for current and future beneficiaries of SSDI is that funding will remain intact for the program. In fact, there are some additions that are meant to streamline the application process. Unfortunately for some, the qualification requirements will now be more stringent.

The new bill strengthens the medical requirements for eligibility for SSDI making medical reviews by a physician psychiatrist or physiologist a requirement for receiving benefits, in all states. This could lead to fewer individuals qualifying for SSDI benefits, meaning greater savings to federal and state governments.

This bill also provides the funding needed to offer full benefits to disabled people for the next three years. It also provides funding for the hiring of judges, so that the notorious backlog of pending cases can be cleared. In addition, federal-state disability investigative teams will be created, and will be expanded to serve all 50 states by the year 2022.

Those who apply for and receive SSDI are affected by both federal and state laws. Chicago Social Security lawyers are keeping a close eye on the changes mandated in this bill, so that those that they represent are fully aware of the qualifications and appeals process and can accurately navigate this new landscape.