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Opinion: Government Takes Second Swing at the Disabled

The disabled now find it more difficult to collect government benefits and buy health insurance since Congress passed new regulations devaluing the opinion of their primary care physician and defunding the Affordable Care Act.

The federal government took another step toward making it increasingly hard to get approved for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits. On May 4, 2017, U.S. Congress passed a bill to abolish the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and replace it with a new national health plan that will substantially reduce the numbers of people covered by health insurance and raise premiums for others. The Senate Budget Committee has not yet analyzed the number of Americans who will lose health insurance. (It predicted 23 million people would have lost insurance under an earlier similar bill that was withdrawn.)Other preliminary estimates by various organizations vary in their assessments of impact; but no matter how you slice it, if the U.S. Senate also passes the bill, fewer Americans will have access to medical care. With that loss, Americans will lose access to diagnosis and treatment to avoid disability or to be able to prove disability if it is unavoidable.

The House bill follows quickly on the heels of the first blow to ill and injured individuals who need disability benefits to survive when they can longer work. 

According to Fox News, on January 18, 2017, the federal register published new regulations saying that effective March 27, 2017, an injured or ill person’s own doctor doesn’t know best when it comes to determining what physical and mental limitations their patients have or how severe or credible their symptoms are! No longer will the assessments and opinions of a disabled person’s primary care physician or treating medical specialists be given more weight and greater probative value than the report of a consulting physician, who has seen the disabled claimant one time at the Social Security Administration’s request or than the opinion of a medical expert hired by Social Security who has never seen the person. Coupled with this, disabled visitors increasingly report that they are asked to attend one-time consultative examinations even when they have submitted extensive medical records.

Then comes the gut punch—if you do get approved, you often wait months and months to get payment started until your savings are used up and you have lost your home or been evicted from your apartment and are sleeping on a friend’s couch, or worse. And you wait even longer, often two to five months, to get Social Security Disability back pay, which you need to get somewhat back on your feet financially.

By Joseph Ram