If you have a chronic disease or injury that prevents you from working, it can be scary thinking of how you are going to support yourself and your family. You're not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 37 million Americans are disabled and approximately 25 percent of the population will be disabled at some point in their lifetime.
Fortunately, the Social Security Act of 1935 provides monthly benefits to disabled Americans who meet the SSA's criteria. Applying for benefits requires following a strict set of steps. It's important to know what to expect before you submit your claim.
1. Your doctor's definition of disabled may not be the same as the SSA's. Social Security defines a disability as one that prevents you from doing substantial work and one that is expected to last at least one year or result in your death. Just because your doctor tells you that you are disabled doesn't necessarily mean that you will qualify for SSA benefits.
2. Benefits are not immediate. The review process takes between three and five months. In addition, your first check won't be written until six months after your application is approved. That means, even if the application process goes smoothly, it can be almost a year from the time of your initial application to when you begin receiving benefits.
3. There are two separate Social Security benefits programs. Social Security Disability income (SSD) is based on the money that you and your employer(s) have paid into the Social Security program over your working life. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program and is based on your income and your assets.
4. Once approved, you'll receive benefits for life. This is not always true. If your application for benefits is approved, you'll be scheduled for periodic reviews based on your type of condition and the prognosis for recovery or improvement.
5. There are a host of things that can cause your application to be denied. Not showing up for your SSA appointments, being in prison, not following your doctor's prescribed treatment and therapy, and being dependent on alcohol or drugs can all cause your application for benefits to be denied.
As many as two-thirds of applications for SSA benefits are initially rejected, a significant number of these because of incomplete documentation. A good disability lawyer can help you navigate the paperwork and the steps necessary to get your application approved. If they accept your case, many lawyers will work on a contingency basis, meaning you don't have to pay a fee upfront. They will collect their fees from your benefits when you begin receiving them. To learn more about disability claims, contact someone like Bruce K Billman.