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Why getting social security disability benefits is so difficult

Social security disability

The purpose of social security disability (SSD) benefits is to provide financial support to people who can't work or earn a reasonable living due to a physical or mental disability.

We recently discussed the qualifications and steps required to pursue an SSD claim. But getting benefits is far more difficult than it sounds. The attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP discuss the red tape you may face when pursuing a claim and how to maximize your chances of getting the benefits you deserve. Here's what you should know.

Only a quarter of social security disability applicants are granted benefits

Data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) from 1999 to 2018 shows that roughly a quarter of initial SSD applicants are approved for benefits. SSD benefits are often denied for the following reasons:

  • Applicants earn too much money. SSD benefits are granted to individuals who can't work because of a disability or who earn less than the substantial gainful activity threshold of $1,260 per month (or $2,110 per month for individuals who are blind).
  • There's not enough evidence to prove an injury or disability. You must prove that you're unable to work or earn a substantial living due to an injury or health condition. You must prove your disability with copies of your medical records and documentation of treatments you're receiving for your disability.
  • Failure to follow a doctor's recommendations. If your doctor tells you to avoid certain activities, keep up with your treatment, and take your medications as directed, you must follow these recommendations. Failure to do so can hurt your chances of receiving SSD benefits.

There is a long waiting period for an appeal

If you were initially denied SSD benefits, filing another claim is a waste of time. You would have a better chance of getting benefits by appealing the SSA's decision to deny your claim. There is often a long waiting period, however.

According to a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), nearly 110,000 SSD applicants from 2008 to 2019 died while awaiting an appeal after their benefits were denied. An estimated 50,000 SSD applicants filed for bankruptcy between 2014 and 2019 while waiting for their cases to be resolved. In 2015, the average wait time for an appeal was 839 days. In 2019, the average wait time reduced to 506 days, which is still more than a year.

The GAO also found that 49 percent of SSD applicants who appealed SSA denials from 2008 to 2019 received SSD benefits.

Why you need an attorney who can cut through the red tape

If you sustained an injury or medical condition that hinders your ability to work and earn a living, it's important that you discuss your matter with an experienced New York SSD attorney as soon as possible. You'll need to ensure that all your ducks are in a row before filing for SSD benefits.

An experienced attorney at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP can help guide you through this complex process. Our legal team knows how SSD cases work and how to cut through the red tape. We can go over your application with you and ensure that all information is accurately filled out. We can also discuss which materials you'll need and how to prepare for your hearing.

Our legal team serves clients in the Five Burrows of NYC and across New York State. Contact us online or call us to get started on your SSD claim.

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