Some of us have been around long enough to remember when the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) reconsideration step applied in New York in disability claims. We not so fondly recall it as the “rubber stamp” step. Since 1999, NYS has been one of ten states in SSA’s Disability Redesign Prototype, which tested the elimination of the reconsideration stage in disability claims. SSA has proposed reinstituting reconsideration in those ten states, including New York, as of January 2019, on page 25 of its FY 2019 Congressional Budget Justification.
Many have objected to reinstituting this additional appeal stage, especially at a time when claimants already wait inordinate lengths of time for decision. Lisa Ekman, Director of Government Affairs of NOSSCR offered compelling oral and written testimony in July to the House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee on this and other bad ideas of SSA. Others, including Community Legal Services (CLS) in Philadelphia and the Empire Justice Center, submitted written testimony as well.
The Subcommittee listened! Following its hearing, it sent a letter to SSA Acting Commissioner Berryhill recommending reconsideration NOT be reinstituted. In September all the Democratic congress members from the Prototype states sent a similar letter, as did ten Senators from the affected states, including Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Although there have been some rumors that SSA may have pushed the pause button, there has been no official response from Acting Commissioner Berryhill.