When a person can’t work, or has a significant drop in their ability to work at the same level that they once did due to a disabling condition they will often take advantage of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration in order to help make ends meet. However, getting these benefits isn’t easy. There is a complex application process that requires extensive documentation before a person can be considered to receive benefits. Even though the Social Security Administration offers a detailed checklist of information needed, most people are initially denied benefits even when they have a very legitimate claim.
Social Security Administration Disability Definition
The Social Security Administration doesn’t look at the term “disability” in a medically traditional sense. To them, it all comes down to a person’s ability to work and make a living in a way comparable to how they were before the disability.
There are three basic criteria that the SSA will look for when considering an application for disability benefits.
- The inability to do the work that was done before
- The inability to adjust to other work due to your medical condition
- The disability has lasted or is expected to last at least a year or result in death.
Part of the reason for the strict criteria is to encourage people to work if they can and to prevent the approval of permanent benefits for those who may only be disabled temporarily. When a person is temporarily disabled, the SSA assumes that resources such as worker’s compensation, short term disability insurance, and personal savings will be able to help that person overcome their temporary obstacle.
Applying for Social Security benefits is usually a very long and tedious process. It begins with filling out an online application, or mailing an application if that is not possible. Along with the application the applicant must provide extensive information about their work and medical history as well as other personal information about their citizenship, marital status, military service, their children, bank information, medical information, educational information, and their job history.
Sometimes, when there is an obvious piece of missed documentation, the SSA will send a reminder asking the person to provide what is missing. After all this, over 62% of Social Security Disability Applications initiating in New York State will be denied.
A Second Try
After a denial, an applicant can begin the appeal process and request reconsideration. More than 85% of reconsiderations are denied.
The next course of action is to request a hearing with a judge who is not directly connected with the SSA, but has a high level of knowledge regarding the requirements. Here, the applicant has an opportunity to go through a five-step evaluation process, which includes meeting with claimants and listening to witness and expert testimony. Judges seek out information from a claimant’s personal physician, while the SSA does not.
Keys to Approval
Getting a hearing date with a judge may take between six months and two years. During this time, it is a good idea for an applicant to speak to an attorney if they have not already done so. The sooner an attorney gets involved in the process, the better chance an applicant has of approval. When applicants take the time to go through the hearing process, New York approval rates jump to over 53%. This includes applicants that hire an attorney, and those who attempt to represent themselves, so chances of approval with the help of a lawyer are likely even higher.
Fighting for Social Security Disability can be an uphill battle. The Social Security Administration can be very particular about what they will accept as proof that you will not be able to work at a job with comparable pay to what you were earning before you became disabled. Most applications are initially denied, and will require that you go through an appeal process in order to have a chance t receiving benefits. When an initial request doesn’t go through, working with a social security disability at Paul Giannetti Attorney at Law in Albany, NY can often make a difference when it comes to resubmitting evidence of your disability and convincing the Social Security Administration to grant you the assistance you need. If you need help with the application or appeal process, contact us to set up a free consultation.