When Social Security mistakenly overpays benefits, you might get a bill | 60 Minutes

When Social Security mistakenly overpays benefits, you might get a bill | 60 Minutes

The Social Security Administration announced a significant change to its disability benefits program in order to improve the fairness of determining eligibility for applicants. This change specifically addresses the practice of using a jobs database to assess an applicant's ability to find alternative employment in the case of disability. Critics have raised concerns about the database, which was last updated in 1977 and includes outdated and obsolete jobs like reptile farmer, railroad telegrapher, and watch repairer, leading to unfair rejections of benefits.

In response to criticism, the SSA has decided to remove 114 occupations, including more than 12,000 types of jobs, from the database to ensure that only relevant and current job options are considered when assessing disability applicants. This decision comes after a disability applicant, who had previously worked as an electrician, was rejected based on the potential to find jobs like nut sorter, dowel inspector, or egg processor, which no longer exist in practical terms. Social Security Commissioner Martin O'Malley stated that by updating the database, decision-makers will no longer deny disability applications based on occupations that are no longer prevalent in today's job market, aiming to provide a fairer assessment process for all applicants.

The changes implemented by the SSA will impact both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, offering relief for disabled individuals who have been subject to outdated criteria and unfair rejections. Law professor Anansi Wilson emphasized the significance of this change, especially for disabled individuals of color who are more likely to face denials, expressing hope for immediate relief for those currently in the process of seeking benefits. The Levin Center for Oversight and Democracy also praised the changes, noting that the removal of obsolete occupations from the database will bring ease to millions of applicants navigating the disability benefits system.