Sunday, October 14, 2007

Social Security Disability Colon Cancer

I came across a cancer forum in which the thread participants were discussing how to file for social security disability and also discussing various other issues that are related to the entire process of applying for disability.

How to apply, of course, is fairly simple. Just contact the nearest social security office and advise them that you wish to file a disability claim. An individual who does this will be given an appointment for a disability application interview to be conducted. The interview itself can be conducted over the phone, or in person at a social security office.

Individuals who are filing for title II social security disability benefits may also apply online (currently, it is not possible to submit an application online for SSI disability), though the value of doing this is somewhat dubious as it is likely, in every case, that a claimant will have questions to ask of a field office claims rep and, by the same token, the claims rep assigned to the case will have questions to ask of the claimant.

Aside from the process of filing, the individuals in the Colon Cancer forum had the following questions, which I will address in this post.

1. Is there any financial help out there for people applying for disability on the basis of colon cancer?

Answer: Typically, most claimants who file on the basis of colon cancer or any other impairment will either get approved for disability on the initial claim, or will get denied and will then be forced to file appeals. Filing appeals will eventually get a case heard by an administrative law judge at a disability hearing, and at such hearings a claimant who has been previously denied will generally stand a good chance of winning benefits, particularly if they have representation.

Unfortunately, the time required to get to a hearing can be considerable, sometimes as long as two years following the request of a hearing. This means, obviously, that claimants who are forced to appeal will usually face an uncertain and adverse future in terms of their finances. It is not unusual, in the least, for claimants to end up in bankruptcy or in foreclosure by the time they get to a hearing, or before this happens. Despite this, the social security administration does not offer any assistance in this regard, forcing claimants to seek help from local charitable organizations and from their local department of social services (food stamps, utility assistance, and sometimes housing assistance).

2. Is it true that everyone who applies for disability gets denied the first time? Actually, this is not true. Though the statistics are different in every state (though no one has come up with a suitable explanation as to why, the chance of winning disability benefits tends to be lower in southern states), on a national basis about thirty percent of all social security disability and SSI disability claims are approved at the application level. This also means, of course, that seventy percent are denied, and the individuals falling into this grouping will need to file a request for reconsideration. If the request for reconsideration is denied (85 percent of all reconsiderations are denied), then a request for a hearing should be submitted and the claimant would be well advised to seek representation, if this has not already been done.

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