Jun 11, 2017

Should More Consideration Be Given To Assistive Devices In Determining Disability?

     The Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) recommended in 2012 that Social Security look into whether it should consider more fully assistive devices in disability determination. Social Security commissioned a report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on the subject. The bottom line is that they recommended against making any change. They also recommended more research but Beltway Bandits always recommend more research. It was a naive recommendation from GAO to begin with, the sort of thing that makes sense mostly to someone who doesn't know how disability determination works at Social Security.


Anonymous said...

i am going to take an unpopular position on this blog and state that in some cases assistive tech is the difference in a person with a disabling condition being able to return to work. The cost of the tech can be astronomical and makes the process cost prohibitive. No, it will not put everyone on disability back to work, but it may help a few, like training, voc rehab, surgery, counseling, medication, will help a few.

I do not feel assistive tech should be part of the determination, it is very specific to the person and the situation they are working in. Far too detailed to make a decision on by DDS or an ALJ/Sr. Atty. they simply lack the background to make a reasonable decision and would be greatly tempted to use the tool as a bludgeon against the Claimant.

The goal is not to put everyone off SSDI and back to work, but to get as many that can and want to work back into the workforce. Not all, but even 2% is better than nothing.

Anonymous said...


The determination is meant to be specific to the individual. I'm not certain how an assistive device is used as a bludgeon against a claimant. The prescription of an assistive device can only help a claim.

Light jobs frequently need the use of upper extremities. Single handed assistive devices are not particularly limiting (unless the individual only retains use of a single upper extremity). The need to rely on an assistive device while standing which precludes the use of an individual's upper extremities is a significant functional limitation which must be considered. Assistive devices do not significantly impact a claimant's ability to engage in sedentary work since the primary position of sedentary work is sitting.

Also, the goal of SSDI is not to get those who can and want to work back into the workforce. The goal is to provide an income to those who are unable to work. Wanting has nothing to do with it. If the claimant can work, or if the recipient of benefits becomes capable of working, their claim is denied or their benefits are terminated.

Anonymous said...

The goal for individuals has always been to work, for most that are applying the goal is work since SSDI generally represents a substantive cut in income. Not to mention the dignity in employment and social interaction of the workplace.

I put a qualifier in hoping that it wouldn't devolve into an exercise in "how I can prove I know about SSDI in a public forum" but unfortunately it went there. I bet if you put your mind to it you can come up with lots of denial opportunities pointing to use of assistive tech. I am not spoon feeding you.

Anonymous said...

Can you afford the assistive tech? Will your employer let you use it? Those and many more questions make that and disability accommodation things you don't want mixed into SSD claims.