May 29, 2001
I have been on SSDI for many years now due to AIDS. I received my initial diagnosis as a result of AIDS related lymphoma. Last year I recieved one of those mailer reviews which I understand are sent to those cases that are determined unlikely to improve or have their benefits terminated. I never received a response back and that was back in February of 2000. I thought that you usually receive a letter back indicating something to the effect that no further action will be required and your benefits will continue. In fact, I know individuals who got the mailer and they did receive a response of some sort. Maybe mine got lost. Last week I received a letter from the DDS in my area that asked me to call The disability evaluation analyst. The letter also stated that my case had been sent to them for medical development and evaluation. When I called him he informed me that he works primarily with AIDS/HIV cases. He also asked me who my doctor was, whom he just so happens to know (since my doctor only works with AIDS and HIV). We went over some of the different AIDS related maladies that I have to deal with (peripheral neuropathy, drug side effects, memory loss, etc.)and he asked me if my condition has deteriorated. Since I have more stuff going on now than when I began my disability I naturally answered yes. I also told him that I have cycled out of the new drug cocktail therapies (this means that I have resistant virus to all of the drugs and as a result they do not work for me very well anymore). In addition, I informed him that I require IHSS (In Home Support Services) for help with my daily activities around the house and for errands. He pretty much told me that based on my initial diagnosis and what I was telling him now that I should not be concerned about anything and that this was routein since I have never been reviewed before and I have been on SSDI for almost nine years (I guess they have to do it eventually). I just want to know what this means. I was under the impression that there are two types of reviews, the mailer and the full on CDR (all that paperwork etc.). What is this telephone interview? Is it something new? I would appreciate any enlightenment.
Response from Mr. Berg
I'm not the expert on public benefits, but I do know that the Social Security Administration is undergoing a review of their procedures. In an effort to be more efficient and effective, they are trying out trial programs in many states. If these are successful, they will be implemented throughout the country. In the meeting I attended on the SS apeal process, the phone interview was a new key componet and was to replace much of the paper review for that level of appeal. It gave the claimant the opportunity to discuss their case with the reviewer and hopefully provide information that was missed by all the forms. Given that the periodic SS review was at times back logged, a redesign was in order. Phone interviews could be astep in the right direction.
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