The Social Security Act requires that the Social Security Administration (SSA) find an improvement in a beneficiary's medical condition in order to remove him or her from either the Disability Insurance (DI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. GAO was asked to (1) examine the proportion of beneficiaries who have improved medically and (2) determine if factors associated with the standard pose challenges for SSA when determining whether beneficiaries continue to be eligible for benefits. To answer these questions, GAO surveyed all 55 Disability Determination Services (DDS) directors, interviewed SSA officials, and reviewed pertinent SSA data.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Social Security Administration||1. To ensure that SSA is able to consistently assess whether DI and SSI beneficiaries have improved medically, the Commissioner of Social Security should clarify guidance for assessing medical improvement when conducting CDRs. More specifically, SSA should clarify guidance concerning (1) what degree of improvement is required to meet the standard and (2) when the use of exceptions to medical improvement is appropriate. SSA should also work with DDSs to ensure that CDRs are conducted on a neutral basis, without a presumption that beneficiaries continue to have a disability.|