The Social Disability Administration (SSA) is a United States agency responsible for overseeing the social security assistance program. The government set up this social assistance program to provide financial support for people with disabilities, older people, women, and children with limited income. In carrying out its responsibilities, the SSA engages the services of medical consultants who help ascertain the credibility of claims from applicants.
Application for Social Security benefits is a rigorous process mostly handled by SSA state agencies. The SSA receives tons of applications simultaneously, necessitating the need for scrutiny of such applications. With the aid of qualified medical consultants, the agency can better make informed decisions on what qualifies as medical impairment.
How Medical Impairments are Determined
Medical consultants are not needed for every application but only those that have connections with medically determined impairments. Medically determined impairments are conditions that are capable of preventing an individual from carrying out substantial gainful activities. When an applicant sends in a request for disability benefit, the processing of the requests is done by the SSA field offices, also known as State Disability Determination Services (DDS), located in different states.
The claimant must provide:
Their medical records.
The contact information of their medical providers.
Other personal information
The DSS is responsible for coming up with medical evidence that confirms the claimant meets the requirement for disability as provided by the social security act.
The first point of call for a determination of a claimant’s eligibility is their medical source.
However, sometimes, the information provided by the claimant’s medical source is insufficient to determine eligibility for disability benefits. In such cases, the DSS reverts to the expertise of Consultative Examiners (CE). It is the responsibility of state agencies to ensure that the medical consultants in their employ have the prerequisite training and qualifications.
Measures SSA Need to Put in Place to Ensure Competence of Disability Medical Consultants
The responsibility to train medical consultants is within the scope of coverage of SSA field offices. However, most states do not adhere to the SSA training and screening requirements. A survey carried out by the US Government Accountability Office has shown that some state field offices do not go the extra mile to ensure that medical consultants meet the stipulated standard. Working with consultants who are not eligible for the job role will hurt the credibility of disability determination.
What SSA Needs to Do
Leaving the entire determination process to the state field agencies without oversight from the center will not provide the required results. The SSA should play a supervisory role over the state field offices to conduct training and screening for the medical consultants. The responsibility lies on the Commissioner of SSA to ensure that policy reminders are sent out periodically to state agencies.
These reminders will serve as a wake-up call to the agencies to do their best and exceed expectations. Additionally, the SSA office can conduct periodic compliance checks to ensure that the field offices pass the Consultative Examiners through the training and screening process.
The Social Security Administration plays a significant role in ensuring that Americans with disabilities can access benefits. Since medical consultants are vital in determining the eligibility of the applicants, such consultants must meet the requirement set up by the SSA.
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