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Approval rates for disability benefits remain challenging

If your doctor tells you that a particular impairment won’t allow you to work for at least a year, you should be eligible for disability benefits, right? Not necessarily.

With the possible exception of conditions on the Social Security Administration’s Compassionate Allowances list that may automatically define an applicant as disabled, the regulations and evidence needed to qualify for Social Security disability insurance payments can be confusing.

Let’s start with the disability requirement. For purposes of SSDI payments, a physical or mental disability should be total, to the extent that it prevents an individual from working. However, an individual who becomes disabled may nevertheless have assets or passive income sources. Accordingly, the SSA’s website clarifies that an individual can’t derive more than $1,070 in monthly income in 2014. Notably, that figure is independent from any income a disabled worker’s spouse might earn.  

Sound easy? While it may seem possible to file one’s disability application without legal help, an applicant may lose valuable time and risk losing benefits. Although an applicant is not required to have legal assistance to apply for SSDI benefits, an experienced disability lawyer can provide counsel that might prove to be invaluable. Simple mistakes in the complicated application process can have serious consequences. By the SSA’s own data, only 885,000 out of 2.65 million applicants obtained SSDI benefits in 2013.

With the help of an attorney, an SSDI applicant’s chances of success might be greater. An attorney can provide advice on filling out the necessary forms and strategies for working with an applicant’s doctors to make the strongest and most well documented case for benefits.

Source: Huffington Post, “Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?” Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, June 24, 2014

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