The SSA has made temporary changes to the requirements for musculoskeletal disorders according to NOSSCR “National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives.” To abide by to these new guidelines, all relevant medical criteria must be presented at the same time or “within a close proximity of time” which is defined as within a consecutive 4-month period.
The change was published at 86 Fed. Reg. 39820 on July 23. The change states as follows, “while this rule is in effect, [SSA] will find that the evidence of a musculoskeletal disorder is present ‘within a close proximity of time’ if the available evidence establishes such a condition within a consecutive 12-month period.”
According to SOSSCR, “SSA expects that this temporary change will allow the agency ‘to make findings of disability in appropriate cases in which individuals have experienced barriers to access to healthcare because of the COVID-19 national public health emergency.’ The Secretary of Health and Human Services declared COVID-19 a national public health emergency on January 31, 2020. This emergency ‘has dramatically changed the provision of, and access to, healthcare services throughout the country.’”
Additionally, the SSA states, “[t]his rule will remain in effect until 6 months after the effective date of a determination by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, 42 U.S.C. 247d, that the national public health emergency resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists, which will afford claimants the opportunity to attend scheduled appointments that may have been delayed during the national public health emergency, allow [SSA] time to adjudicate claims affected by the rule, and allow sufficient time to notify the adjudicative community of the change.”
If you have additional questions, reach out to Viner Disability Law.