The good news is that with an experienced Boston SSDI attorney, it can be a much less arduous journey.
Still, there are some things you should understand about the process, given that the Social Security Administration reportedly received almost 2.7 million applications to the program in 2013 and coffers are expected to dry up by 2022, unless an alternate funding source is identified. That means the agency is growing increasingly choosy with who it approves. In fact, only about 36 percent of claims filed between 2004 and 2013 were approved. Of those:
- 25 percent were approved on initial claim;
- 2 percent were approved on appeal;
- 11 percent were approved at hearings.
As our Boston Social Security Disability Insurance attorneys can explain, more often than not, you are going to be denied, and wait times for hearings can be a year or more. However, that does not mean it isn’t worth your time. In fact, for many applying, it is the only opportunity they have to stay afloat financially. Although federal lawmakers are searching for reforms that could help make the process faster while still keeping in place safeguards that make it tough for fraudsters to exploit, there is nothing on the immediate horizon.
So how can you improve your chances right now?
It’s worth noting that the agency puts a huge responsibility on the shoulders of the applicant, which includes ensuring the correct materials are gathered from the right people and tight deadlines are met. This is somewhat ironic when you consider that people who are applying for these benefits are doing so because they cannot work. And yet, we are asking them to take on a very important “job” when they file for these benefits. That’s probably why applicants who hire attorneys fare so much better in the process.
It’s true that sometimes, applicants just aren’t eligible. But your attorney should be able to give you a good idea of your odds at the outset. You want to make sure first of all that you meet one of two key SSDI requirements, which is that your condition is disabling and either a) is going to last at least one year or b) result in death.
Getting approval on the first place may not be possible, but a good attorney knows the best way to save time and money is to get it right the first time. That means making sure that all medical records are gathered in advance of filing the claim. It’s not always clear how long a claim will take to be made and sometimes, the agency has been known to make a decision on claims while claimants are waiting for important paperwork. By giving them all the records at the outset, you can ensure they aren’t overlooking key details that will result in an erroneous denial that warrants an appeal.
Your lawyer should also help you establish that you are receiving treatment regularly and that your condition is serious and has resulted in specific limitations, according to your doctors. They need to know you can’t do your job – or any other job – because of your condition. It also helps if your doctor can produce a detailed form that will spell out each of your limitations and your prognosis. Your attorney can help ensure these forms are correctly filled out and timely received.
It’s also important to make sure your current income doesn’t amount to “substantial gainful activity” which as of 2016 means any amount exceeding $1,130 monthly. Although we understand the notion of those who say they “can’t afford not to work,” doing so actually undermines the claim. So too can unemployment benefits, because the caveat to receive those is that you are willing and able to work. SSDI benefits, meanwhile, are predicated on the fact that you AREN’T able to work.
If you have questions about how to navigate your claim for SSDI benefits, we can help.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Steps to successfully apply for Social Security Disability Insurance, Feb. 1, 2016, By Kelli B. Grant, CNBC
More Blog Entries:
A Look at Issues and Delays in the Social Security Disability Appeals Process, June 7, 2016, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog