Veterans With Service-Connected Disabilities Should Object to Social Security’s Proposed Rule

Veterans who have a service-connected disability should object to the new rules that the Social Security Administration (SSA) proposes to use when it considers a claimant’s application for disability.  Right now, if a claimant is a veteran who has received a decision from the Veterans’ Administration (VA) granting a service-connected disability rating, then SSA’s rules require it to consider that rating assigned by the VA in its decision.  Social Security Rule 06-03p says that “SSA cannot ignore and must consider evidence of disability decisions made by another governmental or nongovernmental agency.”  So, if a veteran is applying for Social Security disability benefits and has a decision from the VA assigning a 100% disability rating, then that veteran has strong evidence that the SSA must consider in that veteran’s application.  However, SSA is proposing to change its rule on how these decisions are considered.  If the new regulations proposed by SSA are adopted, then SSA’s Administrative Law Judges will no longer have to give any sort of analysis of these VA ratings, and they would essentially be free to ignore them.    The public has until November 8, 2016 to object to these proposed rules.

The Social Security Administration regularly revises its rules on how it evaluates a claimant’s application for disability benefits.  When it decides it wants to change the rules, it publishes those rules in the Federal Register for the public to make comments about the proposed regulations.   Of course, if many objections are made, then there is a better chance that the proposed rule will not be adopted.

The proposed rule that would change how SSA considers decisions by the VA and other agencies in its disability program can be found at https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2016-21358.  The public has until November 8, 2016, to post any comments or objections.   The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives (NOSSCR) will comment on the proposed rule opposing SSA’s proposed revisions.  I intend to comment in opposition, as well.

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