According to statistics supplied by the Social Security Administration, there are over 2 million new disability applications each year. If you are one of these applicants, there are some common misconceptions to be aware of that may impact your success in the approval of your claim.
I am Unable to Work – I will be Approved for SSDI Benefits
This is one of the most disheartening aspects of many initial applicant’s claims. It is not uncommon for individuals to suffer with a physical or mental issue for many years only to finally succumb and file for SSDI benefits. Startlingly, over 60 percent of first time claimants are denied.
My Doctor Determines if I am Disabled
Your doctor certainly may have an opinion and may voice that opinion as to your status, yet it is only the SSA that makes the final and conclusive finding of disability. It is more beneficial to your case to have your doctor address the underlying standards the SSA regulations instruct its disability claim examiners to employ in rendering a decision.
I must be Disabled for over 12 Months to Qualify for Benefits
There is no requirement in the regulations to have had a disability for a specific duration before applying for benefits. Instead, the regulations require a finding that your disability “has lasted or is expected to last” for at least 12 months.
SSDI and SSI are the Same
While each program requires the claimant to be disabled as a condition to receive benefits, there the similarity ends. SSDI is:
- a disabiity program for workers,
- who have paid through payroll taxes,
- while working 5 out of the last 10 years.
Alternatively, SSI is:
- a needs based program
- for those who have not worked sufficiently in the past 10 years
- and are unable to work.
There is no Benefit to me to have an Experienced SSDI Lawyer
Nothing could be further from the truth. Statistically, consider these numbers:
- over 60 percent of initial applications are denied
- reconsideration, the first level of appeal, has as much as a 90 percent denial rate
- an appeal to an administrative law hearing in front of a judge results in a more than 50 percent approval
Why the discrepancy? More often than not, claimants retain a lawyer for representation at the hearing. At this level, testimony by you, your witnesses, medical professionals and occupational work experts is permitted. The hearing is in essence a mini-trial. A lawyer is far better able to conduct the hearing than would be an applicant on his or her own.
Additionally, despite what some may believe, it is not prohibitively expensive to hire a lawyer to argue your disability case. First of all, if you lose your claim there is no fee due your attorney whatsoever. Secondly, your lawyer receives a percentage of your back benefits due and only at a fixed, maximum percentage. Future benefits are yours to keep, 100 percent.
Many people are reluctant to apply for SSDI benefits or become easily discouraged when their claim is met with a denial. Remember, however, that based upon the facts and circumstances of your case, disability may be your right. Make sure you fully understand the rights and responsibilities you have. You have worked long and hard and perhaps it is now your time to see the fruits of those labors.