Social Security Provides New Update: What It Means

The Social Security Administration (SSA) on Monday updated how it will evaluate whether someone classifies as “not disabled.” The move comes after it found that certain jobs disabled workers might be able to take were not widely available in the U.S. labor market.

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The SSA said it found 114 roles, including agricultural engineers, astronomers and models, with limited job openings.

“Based on this finding, the agency will not use these occupations to support a “not disabled” finding at the last step in the evaluation process for disability determinations,” the SSA said in a statement.

social security
A Social Security Administration (SSA) building in 2020 in San Jose, California. The SSA on June 24, 2024, updated how it will evaluate whether someone classifies as “not disabled.”

Michael Vi/Stock Photo via Getty Images

The agency also found 13 occupations in which courts have expressed doubt about their applicability when used to apply the “not disabled” designation for workers.

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“The agency is implementing additional evidence requirements for these occupations,” the agency added.

The SSA pointed out that in assigning whether an applicant for benefits is “not disabled,” it also has to look at whether there are enough job opportunities available for those individuals in the labor market.

“It makes sense to identify occupations that now exist in very limited numbers in the national economy,” SSA Commissioner Martin O’Malley said in the statement on Monday. “By making this update, our decision makers will no longer cite these jobs when denying a disability application.”

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Newsweek contacted the SSA for comment via email on Monday.

The move should help the SSA be more specific when looking at applications from disability workers.

“The agency anticipates that, as a result, it will only consider the most relevant occupations when determining if someone applying for disability benefits could perform other types of work,” the SSA said. “In the longer term, Social Security continues to analyze data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Requirements Survey, which will inform future updates.”

In May, there were 7.23 million disabled workers who received Social Security benefits from the agency, a 20,000 decline from the prior month. The workers were granted an average of a little more than $1,500 a month from the government. The total that the SSA gave out for the month came to a little over $11 million, SSA data shows.

Burt Williamson, a retirement specialist with PlanPrep, told Newsweek that there could be many reasons why there were fewer disabled workers that received benefits from the agency.

“I don’t know for certain, but I would imagine it’s a combination of people being moved from disability to retirement benefits, people passing away, or people no longer qualifying for benefits,” he said. “The latter of the three is probably the least likely.”