Most Americans are aware of the Social Security Administration's services because they pay withholding taxes, typically deducted from their wages. In addition to retirement benefits, the SSA's services include disability benefits administered through two different programs: Social Security disability insurance and Supplemental Security Income.
The eligibility requirements for SSDI and SSI vary, based in large part on whether an individual has a qualifying work history (in the case of SSDI or disability insurance benefits) or is need-based (in the case of Supplemental Security Income, or SSI). Yet one characteristic is common to both programs: Difficulties in navigating the application process.
For example, a recent media article responded to a reader's surprise over learning Social Security disability benefits are not payable for the first five full months of disability. The law imposes that delay: the SSA may pay benefits only after an individual has been continuously disabled for five full months. As a practical matter, however, SSA's administrative processing backlog often renders that five-month waiting period moot. Indeed, an individual's application might not be reviewed until many months after its submission.
Our Pennsylvania law firm is well acquainted with the administrative challenges facing applicants for SSDI or SSI benefits. Fortunately, that experience has also provided us with strategies for minimizing hassle and maximizing benefits.
For example, we recommend starting the application process early. In fact, for SSDI benefits, we recommend applying as soon as an individual knows that a disability will keep him or her out of work for at least a year. Depending on the nature of the disability, there may also be ways to lessen the waiting time for a decision. We can also help with the application itself.
Applicants may also have questions about the high percentage of initial applications that the SSA denies. Our law firm has the experience to frame both of these issues. We will review an initial application, ensuring it includes all of the supporting documentation, medical records and other evidence that will make the most persuasive impact. Call our toll free number at 1-866-886-0660 for a free consultation.
Source: Asbury Park Press, "Why do I have to wait for disability payments?" Joanne Crane, Feb. 12, 2017