In July, the Social Security Administration (SSA) established a National Disability Coalition aimed at providing “an opportunity for all interested stakeholders to share their unique insights on topics of particular interest to Social Security early in the process and directly with policy makers.” SSA designed the coalition as an opportunity to ensure that their vision and planning for SSA’s disability program keeps pace with advances in medicine, technology, health care, and constantly evolving work environments. The coalition is seeking ideas from all interested parties on empowering individuals with disabilities, minimizing the financial hardships of the disabled, and helping to preserve the solvency of Social Security’s Disability Trust Fund.
The National Disability Coalition plans to use the ideas offered to them to “supplement” the rule-making process SSA must follow per the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) to implement new regulations or changes to existing policy. Per the APA, administrative agencies, such as SSA, must publish rules in the Federal Register and allow for a notice and comment period during which the public can offer objections or support regarding the regulatory change in question. The agency can only adopt changes to their rules after considering the comments. The National Disability Coalition will not allow SSA to make changes affecting the public without also going through the formal rulemaking process.
The National Disability Coalition launched an online comment forum on the Disability Decision Process on IdeaScale. They also plan to meet three times a year and held their inaugural meeting on September 24, 2014. Some of the ideas already offered to the coalition include using vocational rehabilitation counselors in disability claims, using video conferencing to take applications from individuals with cognitive impairments, seeking evidence from caregivers when applicable, broaden outreach when revising the medical factors of disability criteria, amongst others.