Allsup Outlines What You Need to Know Before Filing Your SSDI Claim. Worst recession since the Great Depression causes significant increase of Social Security disability claims, adds to challenges for people with disabilities.
According to the Social Security Administration, 3.3 million people with disabilities will apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits in fiscal year 2010. This long line of applicants for much-needed benefits will encounter significant hurdles, making it even more critical to consider getting representation, according to Allsup, which represents tens of thousands of people in the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application and hearing process each year.
For those suffering with a severe injury, chronic illness or disease, receiving SSDI benefits can be an oasis in the middle of an unforgiving desert. "But it's important for people to know that if they apply for Social Security disability, especially on their own, it is a lengthy process," said Mike Stein, assistant vice president of claims at Allsup. "They are joining a line of millions of people who have filed and are waiting to receive their disability benefits."
A number of factors have created a large backlog in the processing of SSDI applications. Most importantly, the SSA received unprecedented numbers of applications in 2008 and 2009. But long-term factors, including the economic recession that began in late 2007, and an aging population also play a role. The result is that both receiving and administering SSDI benefits has become extremely difficult. For example, SSA ended fiscal year 2009 with 722,822 SSDI hearings pending. In addition, the national average wait time for a hearing is 491 days.
Though the SSA is working hard to cut through the backlog, improve efficiency and add staff, those with disabilities who go it alone will face an intimidating process and long delays in obtaining the SSDI benefits they paid for while working.
SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that operates separately from the retirement and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI provides monthly benefits to individuals under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for at least 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. More details are provided in the SSDI Overview on Allsup.com.
Five Things to Consider For Your SSDI Application
Navigating the SSDI process is always a marathon; never a sprint. Below, Allsup offers a few tips for prospective SSDI applicants.
1. Be prepared.
This means do your homework. Determine if you are likely to qualify for SSDI benefits before you apply. There are requirements based on your age, your work history and your disability. For example, you must be insured, or have worked long enough, to qualify for benefits. One way to determine your eligibility is to contact Allsup at (800) 279-4357 for a free SSDI evaluation.
2. Know your claim.
It will pay off if you are a good historian and know details about your work and medical history. Medical records and documentation will be key to your application for SSDI benefits. Remember that professional representatives such as Allsup have years of experience gathering medical documentation and preparing the evidence to get your disability claim awarded. Allsup experts also handle all of the legwork to gather records, freeing you from that time-consumer effort. Allsup's motto is, "You stay at home; we do the work."
3. Be consistent.
Repeat the same information from form to form. Earning credibility goes a long way toward convincing Social Security that you have a legitimate claim and deserve to receive disability benefits. After 25 years in the SSDI business, Allsup's experts thoroughly understand the application and appeals process. They know what information Social Security examiners need to award your claim.
4. Be patient.
The SSDI process takes a long time. For example, the initial application alone may take up to six months for a decision, and two-thirds of those are denied. This means the typical SSDI applicant can expect at least one denial, if not more. If you live in a densely populated area, a decision may take even longer. To provide yourself with the best advantage, consider that 56 percent of Allsup customers are awarded at the application level.
5. Consider asking for help.
The process of handling SSDI application forms, documentation, filings, calls, appointments, appeals and interviews necessary to produce a successful claim can be overwhelming. A family member or friend can provide assistance, but there are important advantages to choosing a professional such as Allsup. For example, Allsup's success rate is 98 percent for customers who complete the SSDI process with them. A representative can dramatically improve and speed your chances of receiving disability benefits. In addition, Allsup provides education and resources, live telephone assistance, support through a personalized online account, financial and tax information, and healthcare insights.
Remember that having a chronic condition or illness is not enough to qualify. You need to prove your disability. You cannot receive Social Security disability benefits solely because your doctor says you are disabled.
"By law, Social Security has a very strict definition of disability and a five-step process to evaluate your claim," said Mr. Stein. "Allsup has taken a very difficult process and tried to make it as bearable as possible, helping thousands of our claimants receive their benefits more quickly and with less stress than they would face applying on their own."
If you're not certain you are eligible for SSDI based on your disability or work history, contact the Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 279-4357.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, Medicare and workers' compensation services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 600 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. For more information, go to www.Allsup.com