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LAW Home > Legal Topics > Disability > Social Security Disability/SSI

Changes in Social Security Rules Can Benefit Claimants



The Social Security Administration has recently made policy changes that will help some Social Security Disability/SSI beneficiaries and claimants.

Allowing old records to help prove a new claim

Most of us have had paper records at one time or another that provided important information about our lives:  IQ scores, school records, medical records.

For those who have made past disability claims to Social Security, it’s likely that some of those records were used as evidence to establish the validity of the  claim.

But what if the vital information contained in past claims cannot be used to prove a current claim because SSA won’t allow it? And what if those records no longer exist anywhere else?

In the past, SSA has not allowed access to such records, but recent changes to some rules will allow evidence from a prior claim to be included in current disability claims. In those cases, prior files can be fully available to claimants and counsel.

While SSA has not yet agreed to all of  the rule changes requested by advocates, it has improved some policies. They have expanded the circumstances under which records from prior claims can be requested. The revised policy sets out procedures for difficult cases like those involving paper claims files.

SSA’s new rules on use of evidence from prior claims is found in POMS DI 20505.010 Prior Folder(s) Exists and a New Claim is Filed.

Forgiveness expanded for SSI co-pays

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries are expected to pay a standard pro-rata share (proportion) of their food and shelter expenses. Sometimes, a person’s SSI benefits are reduced by one-third because they are not paying the correct share.

In the past, SSA had a $5 tolerance rule, meaning that if a beneficiary was paying within $5 of their pro-rata share, SSA would not hold it against them. Now, the tolerance has been increased to $20. If a person is paying less than their pro-rata share of food and shelter expenses, but is within $20 of that figure, their benefits might not be reduced.

To find a summary of these changes with links to applicable rules, see POMS SI 00835.160 Sharing.​