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Long Waits And Long Odds For Those Who Need Social Security Disability

By a time Stephenie Hashmi was in her mid-20s, she had achieved a lifelong dream — she was a assign helper of one of Kansas City’s largest complete caring units. But even as she cared for patients, she satisfied that something was off with her possess health.

“I remember only feeling sleepy and feeling ill and hurting, and not meaningful because my joints and body” hurt, she said.

Hashmi was diagnosed with systemic lupus, a medical condition in that a body’s defence complement attacks a tissues and organs. She’s had medicine and other treatments, yet now, during age 41, Hashmi is mostly bedridden. She finally had to leave her pursuit about 6 years ago, yet when she practical to a Social Security Administration for disability benefits, she was denied.

“I only started bawling,” she recalled. “I felt like, if they looked during my annals or examination these notes, certainly they would know my situation.”

In a U.S., fewer than half of people who request for incapacity advantages — about 45 percent — are eventually accepted, says Lisa Ekman with a National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives. Getting a conference takes an normal of nearly 600 days.

“It is not easy to get incapacity benefits, and it’s a unequivocally formidable and formidable process,” Ekman said.

It competence turn even harder for people like Hashmi, whose incapacity is formidable to see or measure. This spring, a Social Security Administration introduced changes to quarrel rascal and streamline a focus process, including a new rule that removes special care given to a person’s longtime doctor. Ekman pronounced this is a mistake.

“Those changes would now put a justification from a treating medicine on a same weight as justification from a medical consultant employed to do a one-time brief conference or a medical consultant they had do a examination of a paper record and competence have never examined a individual,” Ekman said.

She pronounced this could lead to some-more denials for infirm people with formidable conditions like lupus, mixed sclerosis or schizophrenia. These illnesses can impact patients in unequivocally opposite ways and competence be tough for an unknown alloy or helper to evaluate. Ekman pronounced some-more denials will lead to some-more appeals, that will boost a backlog.


That backlog started snowballing about 10 years ago, said Jason Fichtner; he’s now a comparison investigate associate in open process during George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, yet was behaving emissary commissioner of a Social Security Administration behind then. During a recession, he said, a lot of people who practical for advantages were infirm yet not indispensably incompetent to work.

“They can work, yet when a retrogression happens, those are a initial people who tend to remove their jobs and afterwards they request for incapacity insurance,” he said.

There are now some-more than a million people opposite a nation watchful for hearings, and, adding to a strain, a administration’s core handling bill has shrunk by 10 percent given 2010.

Fichtner pronounced a group is thankful to weed out any and all rascal it can — including a singular cases in that a patient’s personal medicine competence be perplexing to tip a scale to get a studious benefits. Fichtner pronounced a administration can still legitimately prioritize field if a review shows a patient’s disability, yet not obvious, merits it.

“For patients that are unequivocally in apocalyptic condition and unequivocally have vital disabilities, we don’t consider they have to worry about these order changes,” he said.

He acknowledges that a reserve needs courtesy and says a group has safeguards to guard either a order is working.

In Kansas City, Stephenie Hashmi is still struggling with lupus, and still struggling to get incapacity benefits. She’s increasingly pessimistic. After several rejections from a Social Security Administration, Hashmi’s appealing again. Her conference is scheduled for Nov — of 2018.

This story is partial of NPR’s stating partnership with KCUR and Kaiser Health News.

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