Social Security Disability:

Implementing the Medical Improvement Review Standard

HRD-88-108BR: Published: Sep 30, 1988. Publicly Released: Oct 31, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Social Security Administration's (SSA) and state disability determination services' (DDS) implementation of the medical improvement review standard to determine whether: (1) SSA implemented the standard as intended; and (2) DDS encountered problems with it.

GAO found that: (1) SSA regulations implementing the standard were consistent with the law establishing it; (2) DDS administrators indicated that the guidelines were clear and they encountered few problems in implementing them; (3) DDS generally implemented the medical improvement review standard in accordance with SSA regulations and guidelines; (4) both the benefit termination rates and the appeals rates for benefit terminations have declined since implementation of the standard; and (5) the standard reduced the chance of benefits terminations as a result of improper and arbitrary decisions.

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