Establishing a medical disability with the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is a lot harder for most than it should be. This is mainly due to SSA lacking the budget to cover benefits to all valid claimants. Congress continually forces SSA to operate on the verge of a fiscal cliff. SSA in turn denies many valid claims in a thinly-veiled attempt to get claimants to give up. The situation has gotten so bad, it’s almost unheard of for an initial application to be approved. The exceptions are those who present evidence of one of a few terminal illnesses on the fast-track list. Even then, initial approvals are not a given.
The SSA also denies credible applications by issuing a very narrow definition of what it means to be disabled and finding anyone able to engage in substantial gainful activity not disabled. Cost-conscious lawmakers have established “substantial gainful activity” to mean the ability to make a little more than $1100 in a any given month. This figure is not precise and it does fluctuate to reflect current economic realities. However, it is generally far from what a disabled claimant in Boston needs to support his or her family. Continue reading →