Social Security Disability Insurance supports individuals who can no longer work or obtain gainful employment due to a long-term disability. The U.S. Social Security Administration administers the program, and according to the federal government's 2011 budget, the SSA received $12.5 billion for that administration. This was an increase of $1 billion from 2010, thus making the SSA one of the government's highest-funded agencies.
Although SSD is well funded, the government imposes strict regulations for individuals to qualify for payments. First, a person must have worked in a job that is covered by Social Security. Next, according to the SSA, anyone applying for SSD benefits must meet the government's definition of disability:
- A person must not be able to perform the work engaged in prior to their disability
- The government must feel a person cannot adjust to other work due to their condition(s)
- The disability must be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death
This can be a difficult threshold to meet under many circumstances. However, despite a definition of disability that is exceptionally narrow, the government incorrectly denies many individuals SSD benefits each year.
What if I Was Wrongfully Denied SSI?
The first step a person should take is to speak with an experienced attorney who handles SSD appeals to initiate the appeals process. The appeals process can be convoluted and often involves an in-person hearing. The benefit of having a qualified advocate can often make the difference between approval and denial.
The appeals process has two steps: the reconsideration level, followed by a hearing before an administrative law judge. At the reconsideration level a person may submit new evidence (if applicable) and his or her case will be reviewed. Assuming the application is again denied, a person may present his or her case before an administrative law judge. The SSA notes that people should anticipate questions about their past work, medical conditions, treatment and daily activities.
At both stages of the appeals process it is vital to have the assistance of experienced counsel. Knowing what evidence to present, what evidence is relevant, as well as whether to offer expert testimony should be weighed and carefully analyzed.
The Importance of SSD
Often people apply for SSD because they have sustained a substantial personal injury that will affect them for the rest of their life. SSD is available to those individuals who can no longer work to support themselves or their families. Those who have been severely injured or denied SSD benefits should contact a knowledgeable attorney to discuss their rights and potential legal claims.