I thought this article about filing for SSDI was so important that I wanted to run a copy of it as my blog this week. It's from Allsup, a leading nationwide provider of financial and health care related services to people with disabilities; they help people receive their entitled Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medicare benefits. I hope this article from them can help others navigate the confusing system of SSDI just a little bit.
Allsup tells us that two-thirds of all first-time SSDI applicants end up with their claim denied. To help educate people who are filing for their SSDI benefits, Allsup published this article:
"Seven Common Mistakes When Filing for SSDI"
1. Going into the process uneducated. Some people believe it's just a matter of filling out a few forms, sending them in and waiting for their checks. They would be surprised to find out just how complicated the SSDI process really is.
The Social Security Administration follows a five-step sequential evaluation process to determine if an individual qualifies for disability benefits ... including:
- You must not be gainfully employed, which is defined as earning $940 a month or more
- Your condition is severe, meaning it interferes with basic activities of work
- Your condition is on the Social Security Administration's list of disabling conditions, or medically equals one of the disabling conditions on the list, and you will be disabled for more than 12 months
- You are not able to do the work you had been doing before the impairment, and
- You can't perform any other type of work.
"You have to meet the first two criteria before the Social Security Administration will consider your claim," said [Allsup senior claimant representative Edward] Swierczek, who has more than 30 years of experience helping individuals through the complexities of the SSDI application process.
"If you're a 40-year-old ironworker who hurt your back, the Social Security Administration may find that you are not disabled if you can do desk work. You may not think you can, but if you don't provide compelling evidence why you can't, they will deny your claim," he said.
2. Going through the SSDI process alone. Individuals who apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits without representation are more likely to have their claim denied. "Working with government agencies and understanding the nuances of what's needed to comply with the regulation isn't something the average person is aware of," said Allsup senior claimant representative David Bueltemann, who has successfully represented thousands of SSDI applicants.
"Just as people hire accountants to complete their tax returns and represent them before the Internal Revenue Service if they're audited, individuals are recognizing they need for representation when they go into the Social Security Disability Insurance process," he added.
3. Underestimating the impact of your disability. Sometimes pride leads people to underplay the extent of their disabilities because they have endured a condition so long that they have learned how to cope with the stress of daily life. But many people underestimate how much their disability affects their day-to-day lives. A good example, Bueltemann explained, is a 50-year-old grandmother who tells the state Disability Determination Service (DDS) that she takes care of her grandchildren. If the woman doesn't explain that the children are teen-agers and self-sufficient, the DDS may deny her claim because it believes that she is capable of working in a day care center.