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5 Things the SSA wont tell you about Disability Benefits

1.    You are going to wait a long time for them to notify you if you have been approved or denied.

Whether you are waiting to hear if you have been approved after first submitting your SSDI or SSI application or if you are waiting for your hearing to be scheduled before an administrative law judge, you will be waiting a long time. There are a variety of reasons: approximately 3.2 million people filed for disability last year, the SSA is understaffed and disability judges may have hundreds of cases in their dockets waiting for their review.

2.    Working part-time can jeopardize your SSDI or SSI application.

Many SSDI or SI applicants do not understand that to be disabled, according to the SSA, means you do not have the ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA work is making more than $1,010 as a non-blind worker and $1,690 as a statutorily blind worker. What if you are not making that much money but you are working a lot of hours each month? This could also be considered substantial work, and the SSA could consider you not disabled, assuming that even if you are not making profit or payment for your work, you do, in fact, have the capability to work.

3.    Up to 75% of SSDI and SSI applicants are denied the first time they apply.

This number seems staggering until you consider the sheer number of people who apply for SSDI and SSI benefits who do not understand the system or how the SSA makes their disability decision. My advice? Save yourself time and hassle and do research BEFORE you apply for benefits. Make sure your condition will last for at least 12 continuous months, you have seen a doctor, your condition is severe, you are not working too much or making too much money and you have enough work credits to be considered insured for the SSDI program.

4.    With a little effort you can greatly improve your chances of winning SSI or SSDI the first time you apply.

Do you know what conditions the SSA considers automatically disabling? Do you know what the SSA Listing of Impairments is and how the SSA uses it to make disability decisions? Have you seen a doctor in the last 3 months? Do your medical records clearly indicate your limitations to work? If you answered no to any of these questions you have more work to do BEFORE you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits.

5.    The SSA does not have time to “baby” you.

Whether it’s rude behavior on the phone or indifference to your concerns, it won’t take long to realize that the SSA will not be able to cater to your needs or spend much time analyzing your issues. Let me repeat, there were over 3.2 MILLION applications in 2011 alone. What does this mean? It will be tough to get anyone on the phone and more difficult to get the answers you need. If you need extra help, find a lawyer who can help you navigate the disability process. Remember, disability lawyers only get paid if you win, and it could be the best money you ever spent.