Senator introduces 3 Social Security Disability Insurance reform bills

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced three bills on Wednesday, each aimed at improving the administration and integrity of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. Essentially, Hatch’s legislation modernizes the antiquated “grid rules,” which have been used for many years to determine the level of disability and eligibility for the program. The bills also simplify the benefit process and create a medical-evaluation standard on par with Medicare.

“For far too long, the SSDI program has failed to keep up with the rapid changes in medicine, technology and education,” Hatch said. “These bills are the first step in modernizing the SSDI program to make it more effective and efficient for both beneficiaries and taxpayers.”

The Guiding Responsible and Improved Disability Decisions (GRIDD) Act would require the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update the medical and vocational grids that are used by disability decision makers. (The “grid rules” take a number of quality-of-life issues into account to determine whether an individual is or is not disabled, but the rules were originally written in 1979 and have never been updated to today’s standards).

The Promoting Opportunity Through Informed Choice Act would create a support system for disability beneficiaries who want to return to work by mandating that the SSA develop public online tools to assist beneficiaries.

The Disability Evidence Integrity Act would discourage the SSA from making determinations on whether disabled individuals should receive Disability Insurance benefits based on any evidence provided by those who have been convicted of a felony or are otherwise disqualified from participating in a federal health care program.