Trump administration proposes Social Security rule changes that could cut off thousands of disabled recipients

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The Trump administration is proposing changes to Social Security that could terminate disability payments to hundreds of thousands of Americans, particularly older people and children.

The new rule would change aspects of disability reviews — the methods by which the Social Security Administration determines whether a person continues to qualify for benefits. Few recipients are aware of the proposal, which is open for public comment through January.

Critics of the plan liken it to the administration’s efforts to cut food stamps, among other entitlement programs, with insufficient information offered to explain curtailing benefits.

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Northeast Philadelphia Democrat, said, “These changes seem arbitrary, concocted with no evidence or data to justify such consequential modifications. This seems like the next iteration of the Trump administration’s continued efforts to gut Social Security benefits.”

Not everyone gets reviewed within the same time frame. A person with a grave illness such as Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) is placed in a category called “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” and is subject to review every five to seven years.

A low-birth-weight baby, on the other hand, is categorized as “Medical Improvement Expected,” and the case is reviewed every six to 18 months, because growth and change are anticipated, Romig said.

A third category is “Medical Improvement Possible.”

All three categories are based on existing medical standards meant to help officials decide whether benefits are still warranted, said Kate Lang, senior attorney at Justice in Aging, a Washington-based nonprofit that focuses on health benefits for low-income older adults.

The proposed rule change would create a fourth category: “Medical Improvement Likely,” which would mandate disability reviews every two years, creating an additional 2.6 million reviews over the first 10-year period.

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