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Social Security Administration changes rules for mental disorders

Florida residents who have filed Social Security disability claims know the process can be frustrating. Proving you meet SSA requirements is challenging enough, but the requirements themselves may change from time to time, affecting current beneficiaries and new claimants. Individuals with disabilities need to stay up to date on these changes, as they can have a drastic ability on their ability to obtain and continue receiving the much-needed compensation provided through this program.

To see an example of how the criteria for benefits recovery can change, one need only look at recently released news from the Social Security Administration. In late September, the SSA announced that new rules will apply to evaluating mental disorders starting January 17, 2017. The SSA says the changes will update the medical criteria as they relate to evaluating mental disorders. The SSA has consulted many sources in connection with these changes, including current beneficiaries, mental health treatment providers, advocacy groups, and other professionals.

So what changes will we see in early 2017? For starters, new listings will be created to include trauma and stressor-related disorders. This could allow many individuals who otherwise would not qualify for Social Security disability benefits to qualify. On the other hand, many listings will be rewritten or reorganized so that definitions are clearer to both claimants and adjudicators.

Practically speaking, these changes mean that those who suffer from a disability caused by a mental disorder need to read through the changes and see how, if at all, the changes affect their benefits. New claimants also need to familiarize themselves with the changes so they can change their claim or appeal to best fit the new requirements. To learn more about how to do so, disabled individuals may want to consider seeking legal counsel.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Social Security Publishes Final Rule to Revise Medical Criteria for Evaluating Mental Disorders," Mark Hinkle, Sep. 23, 2016

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