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Disabled workers may face a difficult application process

Many New Jersey disability advocates -- and even attorneys -- might agree that the requirements for obtaining Social Security disability insurance payments are not easy. The Social Security Administration maintains a bluebook of qualifying conditions. Yet a mere diagnosis is usually not enough. Rather, applicants for SSDI assistance must also provide evidence demonstrating that their condition will prevent them from working for a year or more.

In addition, the SSA has a well-publicized backlog of SSDI claims. Applicants often wait several months for a decision, which is likely to be a denial. In that regard, one study found that around 70 percent of initial SSDI applications are denied.

Given these obstacles, New Jersey readers might be surprised to learn that federal funds for disabled former workers amount to a greater sum than both foods stamps and welfare taken together. According to a recent count, around 8.5 million Americans receive SSDI payments. Some believe the rising numbers might be due to medical advances which have allowed Americans to more accurately diagnose conditions, and to better understand the effect which disabling conditions can have on an individual's ability to work.

Yet some analysts caution that the program is not sustainable for much longer. Perhaps economics, then, is the real reason behind the difficulties encountered by so many in the application process. With a program that may be overburdened, both financially and administratively, many applicants might encounter resistance. Yet that difficulty should not discourage applicants with a valid SSDI claim. Along the way, a Social Security disability benefits attorney might be able to offer assistance.

Source: npr.org, "The startling rise of disability in America," Chana Joffe-Walt, March 22, 2013

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