Applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or SSDI, can be difficult for many people. Applications are often denied the first time, and wait times can be incredibly long.
Despite offering plenty of proof, especially from doctor’s, the chances of a disability claim being denied the first time are high. Understanding why this might be could help people planning to file a claim for the first time. It may also help those who do ask for an appeal on the Social Security Administration’s decision.
SSDI policies are one of the many programs run by the Social Security Administration. It’s also not fully understood by most. Those working in America and paying into Social Security have the ability to have their income protected by SSDI. They do this by contributing money from their paycheck into the system. It’s important to keep yourself up to date on how SSDI works so that you can be aware of what you need to do if a medical emergency or disability arises. This is especially important if the issue prevents you from working and earning an income.
For those ages 20 and older, one in four are expected to experience some sort of period of disability in their working lifetime, according to Kiplinger. Should it become long term, SSDI will help provide some sort of income and healthcare. Those who have experienced long COVID symptoms are looking to SSDI as a way to get by.
The issue of SSDI applications being denied and why
Kiplinger states that less than 40% of the 2 million people who apply each year for benefits will be approved after every step is taken. 67% are decided by the SSA right when the application is first submitted. People may then complete the process for appealing the decision, where only 8% of those people will be approved. Finally, when it gets to the point of requiring a hearing, only 2% of those will be approved. A lot of people eventually end up giving up the grueling process and return to work once they recover. Others who do not recover sometimes die while waiting for approval.
There are three major reasons that result in applications being denied, the first being failure to meet work history requirements. Everyone who pays tax into SSDI is insured for it, but it doesn’t make them eligible. To receive the insurance provided by SSDI, you need to meet requirements. This includes meeting the definition of a disability according to the SSA. That is a physical or mental impairment stopping someone from working for at least one year or until death. In 2022, the amount someone could receive is $1,350 per month, or if blind $2,260 per month. The work requirement is that an applicant must have worked for at least five of the last ten years, depending on age. If younger, that length may be shorter. An applicant also needs to be at least 21 years old and cannot have reached their full retirement age of 66 or 67.
Many applicants are denied over the fact that they simply don’t provide enough proof or documentation detailing their need for SSDI. You must give medical evidence in full details that prove a disability. In addition, it needs to prove the disability stops a person from being gainfully employed. Anything that proves medical issues and disability is necessary.
Documents to prove disability can include
- Medical tests
- Test results
- Treatment history
- Prescription drugs
- ER visits
- Doctors visits
- Any other relevant medical details that support your medical problem
- Proof that you get regular treatment for your problem
Both medical evidence with the influence the disability has on your life can help support your claim. This is especially necessary for anyone who has a disability that can’t be seen, like mental disorders or neurological conditions. Monthly treatments as well as any drugs and specialists necessary to help with the disability are some of the most important documents you need for your claim.
Finally, most applicants don’t realize that they have the right to use an SSDI representative. The Social Security Administration doesn’t let applicants know that they have that option in the beginning. This results in people trying to figure the process out themselves. By using an advocate, you’ll have an expert on your side to help you through the process. For every ten people who apply, only around three use an advocate. The three individuals who use an advocate are 23% more likely to get approved when they apply within six months. Others who get approved without an advocate see the approval within one or two years. Advocates know how to properly provide medical documentation.
Right now, SSDI applications are at a new high and experts believe it’s because of funding
Millions are applying for different benefits, including SSDI. The Social Security Administration is simply unable to keep up due to low funding supporting the Administration. The SSA continues to ask for more funding in order to help with answering phones and processing applications faster. There are other delays happening as well
The waiting time for a decision to be made on a disability application with the SSA has hit a new high. It’s now over six months and has reached 198 days, according to CNBC News. That’s three times the wait time people were experiencing ten years ago. Experts are saying funding is the main reason that the Administration isn’t able to handle all of their services.
A letter was sent on Thursday by Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer detailing the wait times for the Social Security phone numbers. The average wait time is ten times what it was in 2012 at 31 minutes. When it comes to waiting for a decision on an application for disability, the wait time is two years on average. The letter also explained that more than 10,000 people will die each year as they wait for their claim to be approved.
Funding for the SSA dropped by 14% between 2010 and 2021 while the number of Americans claiming benefits rose 22% in that same time frame. The proposal currently being suggested would boost funding for the SSA by $800 million, a 6% increase. President Joe Biden asked for $1 billion originally for the year 2023. The biggest worry is that for the year 2023 funding will remain what it is in 2022, resulting in the same number of issues. Things would likely worsen due to rising costs and the need to make further cuts in other areas like hiring and overtime. The turnover rate is very high for the SSA, and it’s the highest where decisions are made for SSDI applications.