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Discrimination and social security disability benefits

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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People in North Carolina know how easy it is to complete just about any form or transaction online these days. That’s why it’s so surprising that the Social Security Administration still requires a wet signature on documents before disbursing benefits. What’s worse, this requirement adversely affects the disabled applicants.

Unfair and inefficient

In recent years, disability advocates who work with organizations like the United Spinal Association have brought lawsuits against the SSA for discrimination. They argue that many of their clients can’t physically sign documents without assistance. These clients must wait for help, then must mail hard copies of documents in, and then must wait until those hard copies are processed. These delays are not acceptable to many disabled people and their advocates.

They argue that all of this paperwork constitutes an undue burden on people who are already struggling without the benefits they’re entitled to. It also flies in the face of legislation like the Paperwork Reduction Act, passed in the mid-1990s and the Administrative Procedure Act. Consider that millions of Americans are able to e-sign their tax returns for the IRS. HUD and the VA also regularly accept e-signed documents. Why not SSA documents as well? Particularly since so many claimants have limitations with their physical dexterity.

In the past, The National Federation for the Blind has succeeded in winning temporary suspension of the wet signature requirement. Now, lawyers who advocate for disabled people are hoping to have it overturned for good. Social Security Disability claimants already have enough hurdles to overcome without also providing wet signatures on paper documents. No one who struggles to get by should be made to wait even longer for their SSD benefits.