Getting Social Security Disability Benefits
Getting social security disability benefits from the social security administration can be fairly difficult due to a number of factors. For one thing, if a social security disability or SSI claim is approved, this may not happen at the initial claim stage and, in fact, an individual's case may take months or even years before benefits may be received (typically, when an SSD or SSI case takes "years", this is due to the fact that a claimant has been denied at the initial claim level and at the first appeal level, meaning that it has been necessary to request a disability hearing -- getting a disability hearing date can take well over a year in most states).
Getting approved for social security disability benefits can be a difficult proposition due to the high rate of denials and due to the lengthy wait for appeals. However, the system can be especially taxing due to the severe financial stress that most claimants are placed under (having little to no income while a disability application or appeal is pending).
Those who have only begun the process of filing for disability benefits may wish to prepare themselves for what lies ahead. And, to this end, it may be helpful to know in advance how the system works. Here is a short list of things to expect and prepare for.
1. Your claim, if it is not approved at the application level, will probably take a number of months to process at each appeal level. In some cases, a first appeal can be decided in weeks instead of months, but this is not always the case. When it comes to requests for disability hearings, however, the wait is almost always gauged in terms of months (note: individuals who have dire financial need can sometimes have their case expedited, but this can only be done at the hearing level and only after a hearing has actually been requested).
2. Social security won't call you or write you about the status of your social security disability or SSI claim. In fact, for most claimants, the only correspondence they will receive will concern forms that need to be completed, appointments that need to be kept, and decision notices (approval or denial). For this reason, a claimant may wish to periodically inquire into the status of their claim, or, if represented, have their attorney do this for them.
3. If your doctor writes a statement supporting your claim for disability benefits, this may be completely ignored at the initial claim and first appeal levels. Historically, such statements do little to help claimants win their disability benefits at these levels. However, at the disability hearing level (where a federal judge presides), a statement from a claimant's treating physician can be instrumental in winning a case. However, a statement from one's treating physician must be detailed and must sufficiently explain the restrictions and limitations a claimant has as a result of their condition or conditions.
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