Social Security was designed so that while an individual is employed, they contribute a percentage of their earnings into the Social Security system. When an individual retires or becomes disabled, they are then eligible to receive benefits from Social Security in the form of a monthly check that is based on their average lifetime earnings. The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
It is unfortunate to say that sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, such as an accident or illness, a person becomes unable to work. It is under these circumstances, that you may have the need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security Administration is very strict and short-sighted in the review of each individual application. Almost seventy percent of all initial claims for Social Security Disability are denied. Individuals have the option to appeal these denials. However, the process of appeal can be a long and tedious one with many hurdles along the way and each person only has five (5) chances to get their claim approved. This time consuming and complicated process is why you should apply for Social Security Disability benefits as soon as you and your doctor(s) agree that your disability is going to last for a minimum of a full year.
Any person applying for Social Security Disability benefits should look at the process not as though it were an application for benefits but as if it were an actual trial. The Social Security Administration asks that the application include details of every job that was held for last fifteen (15) years leading up to the accident or illness. They request a thorough explanation of why you couldn’t go back and perform even the lightest duties of any of those jobs. They want some sort of proof that your age, education and physical limitations not only preclude you from performing the lightest duties of your previous job but that they also prevent you from finding employment in any field. In addition, copies of medical records and reports from your treating physicians with details as to why you are unable to work are requirements. Just standing before the Social Security Administration and saying that you can no longer work is not nearly enough.
No one plans to get injured or become disabled. No one expects to have a life long disability. Essentially you are forced into retirement and it is not the kind of retirement that you envisioned for yourself or your family. Your illness, injury or disability does not have to lead to financial ruin. However, without the assistance of an experienced social security disability attorney, you may not be able to get your claim for benefits approved. While there is no requirement to have legal counsel to assist you in the appeal process for your disability claim, it is recommendable to do so. Wittmer | Linehan can help you better understand your rights and can assist you in navigating this difficult road for approval.