What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability and SSI?
How do you Win Benefits under Social Security Disability or SSI?
If I am determined disabled, how far back will Social Security pay benefits?
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition?
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits
Common Mistakes after Receiving a Denial of Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits
How to File for Disability - Tips for Filing
If You Get Approved For SSDI Will You Also Get Medicare?
How much does a Social Security disability attorney get paid?
Social Security Disability SSI Criteria and the Evaluation Process
How long does it take to be approved for SSI or Social Security disability?
What do you Need to Prove to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability SSI and Fibromyalgia
Social Security Disability SSI and Degenerative Disc Disease
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
Answers to questions about SSD and SSI disability
What Disabilities Qualify for SSI and Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability Status
Social Security Disability Tips ó how a claim gets worked on
Social Security Disability, SSI Disability - Terms, Definitions, Concepts
Social Security Administration Disability Benefits From SSD and SSI
How to prove you are disabled
and win disability benefits
If you are filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security (SSI) benefits, the time it takes to receive a final decision on your claim varies widely, anywhere from a few months to more than a year.
The fact is, while there are some applicants that are approved for benefits fairly quickly (the average wait time for a decision on an initial application is about three months), most people who file for disability benefits are turned down. Nationwide, about 70 percent of all initial applications for disability benefits are not approved.
If you are turned down for disability, then you have the right to appeal. It usually takes less time to receive a decision on an appeal, but again, due to backlogs in the system it could take several months depending on the locale in which you file.
Unfortunately, the first appeal, called a request for reconsideration or reconsideration appeal, is decided by the same agency that denied the initial application, the state disability determination services (DDS) agency. Disability examiners employed by DDS make all decisions on SSD and SSI applications and reconsideration appeals for the Social Security Administration. These examiners are all under a considerable amount of pressure to keep their number of approvals low, and thus they are not likely to overturn a denial issued by a previous disability examiner, at least not without significant new medical documentation to consider, or some evidence of gross negligence in the initial decision-making process.
Thus, the majority of disability applicants must file a second appeal, a hearing before a federal administrative law judge, before their odds of approval are 50/50 or better. Due to the steady increase in the number of disability applications filed each year, it can take one to two years to appear before a judge and plead your case (preferably with some sort of legal representation). For those who pursue a claim to the hearing level, the statistics are encouraging. ALJs approve about 60% of all claims previously denied by DDS.
In short, it is not easy for most to get Social Security disability benefits, but for those who are coping with a severe physical or mental impairment, giving up is not really an option. In addition, it is possible for claimants who file a request for a hearing and who can demonstrate that they are in severe financial straits to call the hearing office and ask for their hearing date to be moved up on the calendar.
There are a couple of things disability applicants can do to prepare themselves for (what can be) the long, frustrating process of getting Social Security disability benefits. One is to call the local Social Security office for a status update on your claim to be sure that it is being considered rather than lying buried on an examinerís desk, as well as to be sure that Social Security has everything it needs from you to render a decision on your claim.
The other important thing to is to be sure that you have supplied a complete medical history of all places at which you have received treatment for your impairment. Be sure to include current addresses and phone numbers when possible, so that a decision on your claim isnít further delayed because the disability examiner canít get a copy of your records.
Also, if at all possible, ask your physician to fill out a statement detailing exactly what your physical or mental limitations are as a result of your impairment, which will allow the person deciding your claim to have a clear overview of your ability to work (or not).
Historically, examiners working for DDS do not give much weight to treating physiciansí statements, but disability judges tend to weigh them heavily in their decision-making, which may be a major factor in why judges are much more likely to approve disability applications than disability examiners employed by DDS.
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Individual Questions and Answers
SSD and SSI are Federal Programs
The title II Social Security Disability and title 16 SSI Disability programs operate under federal guidelines and, therefore, the program requirements--medical and non-medical--apply to all states:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
Recent approval and denial statistics for various states can be viewed here:
Social Security Disability, SSI Approval and Denial Statistics by state
Special Section: Disability Lawyers and unnecessary claim denials