Getting Disability - Social Security Disability and SSI
Getting disability benefits. There are literally tons of questions associated with this two word sentence. If you're searching for information online regarding social security disability or SSI disability, of course, there's a more than fair chance that you're looking for either 1. basic information about how to file an application or an appeal for disability benefits, 2. information regarding representation, or 3. tips and advice to enhance your prospects for winning benefits.
This particular post will point out a few informational tidbits that may provide insight for individuals who are just starting a claim or are considering filing an appeal.
A. Getting disability benefits established can take a fairly long time. And by that I mean a very long time. What do I mean by a very long time? Unfortunately, up to three years or longer. Yes, you may be one of the luckier ones and have your claim approved at the initial application level in under six months (though, even an approval at that level can still take a year or longer--it always varies). But 70% of all claimants are initially denied, and for these individuals getting disability benefits approved usually means starting a series of appeals that results in a hearing before a judge (fortunately, when we say "series" we mean only two appeals).
B. Getting disability from the social security administration can involve an extraordinary amount of anxiety and stress. And for several reasons. First, as we've already stated, the process is typically long and drawn out. But, as a consequence of that, many social security disability and SSI claimants, perhaps most, will experience severe financial hardship. And a third source of disability claim-related stress has to do with the fact that, for long periods of time, a claimant will simply have no idea what is happening with their case (ideally, the social security administration should provide periodic updates to claimants regarding the status of their case, but this does not happen--meaning you should call the social security office, disability determination services, or your representative, attorney or otherwise, whenever you need to know what is happening what your claim).
C. Getting disability benefits won at any level can be hampered significantly if you don't supply social security (and by "social security", I mean either the claims rep at the social security office or the disability examiner at disability determination services who is working on your medical evaluation) with the information they need. "Information", of course, includes a wide spectrum. For instance, when you complete your disability application, you need to make social security aware of your medical sources of treatment, including the names of your doctors and the dates you've been seen. When you file an appeal, you need to provide social security with updated information regarding your medical treatment. In other words, if you've been back to see one of your doctors recently or you've had some form of testing done, indicate this. And if you've been to a doctor, hospital, or clinic that social security is not aware of, then definitely indicate this on your appeal form so these medical updates can be gathered and added to your file (although, it should be stated that at the hearing level, social security will not perform any additional development---this will generally be up to you or your attorney or non-attorney representative).
If you haven't filed for social security disability or SSI disability, reading this post may make you feel somewhat depressed. Learning just a little about how the SSD and SSI evaluation system works can have that effect. However, if your medical or mental condition is preventing you from working, you should file a claim for benefits ASAP, simply because the process does take so long. And if your claim proceeds to the hearing level (most claimants who are denied at the application level must appear at a disability hearing before a claim for benefits can be approved), then you should seriously investigate finding representation to maximize your chances of winning benefits.
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