Fee Cap Increase
For the first time since 2009, the cap on attorney fees is expected to increase from $6,000 to $7,200.
SSA Reopening to the Public
After two years of being mostly closed to the public because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Security Administration will restore in-person services on April 7, 2022.
Cost of Living Adjustment increase in 2021
Substantial gainful activity will increase to $1310/mo for those who are not blind and $2190/mo for those who are. SSI primary insurance amounts for those who are single will be $794/mo and $1191/mo for those who are married.
Request for Reconsideration Required in Colorado
Colorado was one of a handful of prototype states not required to file a request for reconsideration after an initial level disability denial. As of January 2019, Colorado disability claimants are now required to file a request for reconsideration after an initial level disability denial and prior to filing an appeal to appear before a judge.
The Treating Physician Rule
While a medical source’s treatment relationship with a claimant will remain a factor for disability claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, the treating physician rule will no longer apply. The opinion of the treating doctor will no longer be given controlling weight or a deferential presumption.
The Five-Day Rule
Any written evidence must be submitted to the hearing office no later than 5 business days before the date of the scheduled hearing. An administrative law judge may decline to consider the evidence if it is not timely submitted.
2018 Substantial Gainful Activity
In 2018, SGA is $1180 for non-blind disabled claimants, and $1970 for blind claimants.
.3% Cost of Living Adjustment increase in 2017
Substantial gainful activity will increase to $1170/mo for those who are not blind and $1950/mo for those who are. SSI primary insurance amounts for those who are single will be $735/mo and $1103/mo for those who are married.
Revised Mental Health Listings Effective January 17, 2017
The Social Security Administration is revising the criteria in the Listing of Impairments used to evaluate claims involving mental disorders in adults and children.
Updated Compassionate Allowance List
In January 2014, 25 new conditions were added to the compassionate allowance list for a total of 225 conditions.
1.5% Cost of Living Adjustment increase in 2014
Substantial gainful activity is $1070/mo for those who are not blind and $1800/mo for those who are. SSI primary insurance amounts for those who are single is $721/mo and for those who are married is $1082/mo.
Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration
As of February 14, 2013, Carolyn W. Colvin is the new Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
SSR 13-2p replaces the 1996 EM-96-200
SSR 13-2p explains SSA’s policies in determining when drug and alcohol addiction is material to a claim.
District offices closing early in 2013
District offices will close to the public at noon on Wednesdays as of January 2, 2013 and will close at 3:00 pm every other day. Hearing offices will not be affected.
“Expedited Vocational Assessment” gives an ALJ discretion to skip step 4
As of August 24, 2012, an ALJ will have discretion to skip step 4 of the five step sequential evaluation process if there is insufficient evidence of past work activity pursuant to 77 Fed. Reg. 43492 (July 25, 2012).
Effective July 25, 2012, SSR 12-2p provides guidance for evaluating fibromyalgia.
SSR 12-2p outlines the 1990 ACR Criteria for the Classification of Fibromyalgia and the 2010 ACR Preliminary Diagnostic Criteria and uses each to determine if a claimant has a medically diagnosed impairment.
The Social Security Administration no longer discloses an Administrative Law Judge assigned to a claim
The SSA has attempted to prevent forum shopping by hiding the ALJ until just before a hearing.
52 new medical conditions added to the Compassionate Allowance List
In April 2012, the Social Security Administration added 52 new conditions to the Compassionate Allowance list. For more information, go to our Social Security Disability Blog.
The Social Security Administration limits a claimant’s ability to file subsequent applications
On 7/28/11, the SSA published SSR 11-1p stating that it will no longer accept subsequent applications for the same type of claim while a prior disability claim is pending administrative review. Claimants will now have to choose between appealing an unfavorable decision and filing a new application.
The United States Supreme Court has held that EAJA fees belong to the prevailing party, not the prevailing party’s attorney
In Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S. Ct. 2521 (2010), the Supreme Court overruled the 8th Circuit and held that the federal government can offset Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) fees with prior debt owed to the government, such as child support or taxes. Astrue v. Ratliff may result in fewer Social Security disability lawyers taking cases at the Federal Court level in fear that EAJA fees will be intercepted by the Federal Government for prior debts owed.
Reconsideration reinstated in Colorado?
Colorado is one of ten prototype states that eliminated the reconsideration stage of the disability appeals process. The reconsideration stage occurs after the initial denial and before the Request for a Hearing. Congress is debating whether or not to reinstate the reconsideration stage. Some believe that reinstatement will cause unnecessary delays in the already too lengthy disability process.
Aid to the Needy and Disabled (AND) benefits will not be suspended
Governor Ritter’s Colorado budget plan initially included a suspension of AND benefits effective January 1, 2010. Fortunately, plans to suspend AND benefits have been cancelled.
Long Backlogs for disability benefits
In January 2008, CBS Evening news covered a story on the long backlogs and wait times for social security disability applicants.
CBS evening news video 1 – Aired 1/14/08
CBS evening news video 2 – Aired 1/15/08
The Social Security Administration increased the fee cap from $5,300 to $6,000 effective as of June 22, 2009.
New Child Social Security Rules
The Social Security Administration published eight new Social Security Rules dealing with the “functional equivalence” rule for child disability benefits.
Click here to search for production numbers and approval ratings of all Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) between 2005 and 2008. The Social Security Administration produced this information after receiving a Freedom of Information Act request by The Oregonian Newspaper. Also, the Social Security Administration has published an ALJ Dispositional Data File, giving statistical information for ALJs in fiscal year 2010.