For those with a disability, the Social Security Disability program may be the only financial lifeline available. Whether a disability is related to an injury or an illness, it generally precludes someone from working a job. In some cases, disabilities can even prevent people from providing for themselves when it comes to daily care, such as eating, getting dressed or taking a shower.
Social Security Disability provides a small amount of income and access to health benefits that can offset the financial implications of a disabling condition. These benefits may be the only source of income and protection for many people with medical disabilities. Unfortunately, backlogs for processing applications for benefits have now reached two years or longer in some areas.
At its best, the Social Security application process is slow
Simply put, there isn’t enough staff to handle the number of applications for Social Security Disability people make each year. While the needs of those with disabling conditions are immediate, benefits related to Social Security Disability are not. Once a person has a medical condition that may qualify for Social Security disability benefits, that person must submit an application. After a review of the application, the applicant will receive either approval of their claim or a denial.
Those whose applications get denied have the opportunity to request an appeal. Typically, this involves a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Waiting for that hearing can take months or years in some cases. You will then need to submit medical records and other evidence in support of your need for Social Security Disability Benefits. The ALJ will consider your testimony and evidence before ruling on your claim.
Small mistakes can mean increased waiting time
Filling out government applications can be a stressful and time consuming process. However, if you fail to take it seriously, that attitude could come back to haunt you in the long run. When you consider the fact that it may take two years or longer from the date of your application to begin receiving benefits, it’s easy to see how any additional delay could become a major issue. During that waiting time, you could fall behind on bills, from medical expenses to your mortgage.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to take great care in the initial application process. Omitting certain information or failing to provide sufficient medical documentation could result in long delays or even needing to restart the application process from the beginning.
While the amount of red tape involved in the Social Security Disability process is frustrating, it is possible to navigate it successfully. You simply need to educate yourself about your rights and do your best to ensure that you comply with all paperwork and documentation requirements in a timely manner.