Standing Committee of Medical Experts to Assist Social Security on Disability Issues

Type: Standing Committee
Topics: Aging, Health Services, Coverage, and Access
Boards: Board on the Health of Select Populations, Board on Health Care Services

Activity Description

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the following two programs that provide benefits based on disability:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program (Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act))
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program (Title XVI of the Act)

Title II pays disability benefits to individuals "insured" under the Act. The benefits come from the individual’s contributions to the Social Security trust fund through the Social Security tax on their earnings. The Act also provides benefits to certain disabled dependents of insured individuals. Title XVI provides SSI payments to adults and children (under age 18) who are disabled and have limited income and resources.

SSA seeks to continuously improve its criteria for determining disability in adults and children. To help improve the criteria, SSA wants the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to establish a committee of medical experts to assist us with ongoing and emerging disability issues.

The standing committee will survey literature, clinical practices, and published studies related to disability, and collect and analyze relevant data and information, to assist us with disability issues, particularly at steps 3, 4, and 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

Surveillance will focus on issues such as:

  1. How has treatment for adults and children changed recently?
    a. How effective are newer treatments?
    b. How available are newer treatments?
  2. What is the current standard of care for adults and children with specific physical or mental impairments?
  3. What information is available to indicate that specific disorders would prevent the ability to do any work/gainful activity (or, for children, cause "marked and severe functional limitations") for a continuous period of 12 months or more?
  4. What information is available to indicate that specific disorders would prevent the ability to do substantial gainful activity for a continuous period of 12 months or more?
  5. Are there any laboratory findings that correlate with listing-level severity for adults and children?
  6. How can functional criteria be effectively incorporated into the listings for both adults and children?
  7. How does the rise in the number of children receiving SSI compare to national trends in the number of children with the same disorders?
  8. How does medical evidence, including the use of prescribed medication, affect the outcome for disability claims?

As determined by SSA, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the standing committee will also organize and lead outreach conferences in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with members of the public to provide a neutral ground for debate and analysis of emerging disability issues.

As of March 2016, the Health and Medicine Division continues the consensus studies and convening activities previously undertaken by the Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Previous Meetings for this Activity