A proposal being kicked around in Washington would tighten eligibility requirements for Social Security disability benefits which could especially affect older Americans. Currently, to be eligible for benefits you must have an impairment which matches the medical criteria in the “Blue Book,” the Social Security Administration’s list of disabling conditions. If your symptoms match the requirements in the listings, you will likely qualify for disability payments. If your condition doesn’t meet that standard, age is the next qualification. Under the proposed new rules, age will play a less significant role in deciding if somebody is eligible for benefits.
The Wall Street Journal reports that “[t]he proposal aims to address major economic and demographic shifts over the past four decades, according to the text of the draft rule. Americans are living longer and are better educated. Fewer people are engaged in physically demanding jobs in mines and factories, and more are working in offices, hospitals, schools and retail outlets. These shifts, plus jobs being added and subtracted by new technologies, change the potential work options for people with disabilities.”
The Social Security disability programs have provided modest monthly payments to disabled American workers since 1956 with more than eight million Americans currently receiving disability benefits.