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When applying for SSDI benefits, make a strong first impression

If a worker who has been paying into the Social Security disability programs through payroll taxes experiences a life-changing disability that prevents substantial work, he or she should be able to count on those benefits. After all, the Social Security Administration's disability programs are intended as an insurance policy. The programs use pooled resources from payroll tax contributions paid by workers and a matching portion from employers.

However, there’s a very strict disability standard: An applicant for Social Security disability insurance benefits must provide evidence not only of a disability diagnosis, but also treatment records and other documentation that persuades a Social Security Administration disability examiner that a particular condition truly inhibits work functionality.

The majority of initial applications are denied, and even after appeals have been exhausted, less than four out of every ten applicants succeed. Without the help of an attorney that focuses on disability benefits, an SSDI applicant’s chances may be severely compromised.

Yet even after submitting a strong claim, an applicant might not receive a determination for many months. In the event that an initial application was denied, a request for reconsideration may entail many more months of waiting. 

With so much at stake, waiting to contact a Social Security disability attorney until after receiving an application denial would be a mistake. Just like first impressions in real life, a strong initial claim can go a long way. Although there may be opportunities to submit additional evidence during the appeal process, the odds are steep. It’s better to consult with an attorney at the very beginning of the Social Security application process.

Source: Huffington Post, “Social Security Benefits Made Easy -- Part 5,” Jay Lickus, Aug. 4, 2014

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