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Understanding Recent Changes in the Social Security Administration and Predictions for the Future

by Busines Newswire
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Navigating the world of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or “Seguro Social por Incapacidad” in spanish) can be complex, particularly with the changes and updates that frequently occur. Over the last few years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has implemented several significant changes that affect how benefits are processed and distributed. In this blog post, we’ll explore these recent changes, understand their impact, and consider what the future might hold for SSDI applicants.

 Many people who want to file an application for SSDI benefits are shocked to learn they don’t qualify for benefits. Why don’t they? Because, to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must do more than meet the SSA’s medical rules. You must also have earned work credits by working. Therefore, please understand that the SSD program is an “insurance” program that is tied to your work history. Additionally, if you are still working, then you cannot apply for SSDI benefits. SSDI benefits are only available to you if you cannot work at any job for over one year.

You contribute to the SSDI program every time taxes are taken out of your work check. If you work for an employer, then you pay FICA taxes. Likewise, if you are self-employed, then you make contributions through SECA taxes. To be insured and qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have enough work credits.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. In general, you need 40 credits, with 20 earned in the last 10 years prior to becoming unable to work. However, younger workers can qualify with fewer work credits.


You earn work credits by working and paying your taxes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) converts your earnings into work credits. Every year, the SSA awards you work credits based upon the amount of money you earn. You can earn up to four work credits each year. The dollar amount you need to earn to get one work credit changes every year.


If you don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, then you can file for SSI benefits instead. However, SSI is a needs-based program for those with limited income and few assets. You must also be disabled or blind. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must meet the income and asset rules. But you also need to meet the medical criteria, which are the same as those for SSDI benefits.

There are many people who don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. But there are also people who have severe medical conditions who do not qualify for SSI benefits. The reason they cannot get SSI benefits is because they have too much household income or too many assets. For example, perhaps they are married, and their spouse makes $60,000 a year. That high of an income eliminates the disabled spouse from getting SSI benefits.

The same is true if you have too many assets. Let’s say you meet the medical rules to win SSI benefits, but you own two motorcycles and a boat. Those “extra” assets mean you don’t qualify for SSI benefits. Why? Because those extra assets, which are beyond one vehicle and one home, can be sold for income. Therefore, they are extra money for you. As such, you cannot be paid SSI benefits until you no longer have those assets. 

Recent Changes in the Social Security Administration

1. Increase in Remote Services:

  • Background: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the SSA shifted towards more remote services to ensure safety and accessibility.
  • Impact: This transition has allowed for more flexible interactions with the agency, including video hearings and online application processes, making it easier for those with disabilities to access services without physical strain.

 2. Updated Medical Criteria:

  • Background: The SSA periodically updates the criteria in its “Listing of Medcial Impairments,” which helps determine if someone is medically qualified for benefits.
  • Impact: Recent updates have refined how certain conditions are evaluated, such as cardiovascular disorders and respiratory illnesses, ensuring more accurate assessments aligned with current medical knowledge.

 3. Adjustments to the Cost-of-Living (COLA):

  • Background: COLA adjustments are made to ensure that the purchasing power of SSDI and other Social Security benefits is not eroded by inflation.
  • Impact: There have been significant increases in COLA in recent years due to higher inflation rates, which means beneficiaries have seen notable increases in their monthly benefits to help cope with the rising cost of living.

Predictions for the Future of SSDI

Looking ahead, we can anticipate several trends and potential changes in how the SSA operates and how it might impact beneficiaries:

1. Continued Emphasis on Technology and Accessibility:

  • Prediction: The SSA will likely continue to enhance its digital platforms to make applying for and managing benefits easier and more accessible.
  • Potential Benefits: Improved digital services could lead to quicker processing times and better accessibility for applicants, particularly those who are unable to travel to SSA offices.

 2. Possible Financial Challenges:

  • Background: The Social Security Trust Fund, which supports SSDI payments, has been projected to face funding shortfalls within the next decade.
  • Prediction: Congress might need to take action to ensure the fund’s solvency, which could involve increased payroll taxes, higher benefit age requirements, or adjustments in benefits.
  • Impact: Any changes to funding mechanisms or benefit structures could significantly affect future applicants and current beneficiaries.

 3. Reevaluation of Medical Criteria:

  • Prediction: As medical knowledge and treatments advance, the SSA will likely continue updating the medical criteria to reflect these advancements.
  • Potential Benefits: More accurate and up-to-date criteria can lead to fairer evaluations of disability claims, particularly for conditions like mental health disorders and autoimmune diseases, which have evolved significantly in terms of treatment and understanding.

 4. Policy Changes Influenced by Political Shifts:

  • Background: Social Security policies can be heavily influenced by the political landscape, including who controls Congress and the presidency.
  • Prediction: Depending on political changes, there could be shifts towards expanding benefits, altering eligibility requirements, or other structural changes to the SSDI program.


The landscape of Social Security Disability Insurance is always evolving, shaped by societal needs, medical advancements, and economic factors. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for applicants and beneficiaries to navigate the system effectively. As we look to the future, potential changes could bring both challenges and opportunities, making it more important than ever to have knowledgeable and experienced legal assistance to guide you through the process of securing the benefits you deserve.