Hurdles In The Social Security Disability Path

By A. Tereasa Rerko, Esq.

Often at the recommendation of someone you trust, you begin the process of applying for SSD or SSI disability benefits. Regardless of the strength of your case, be forewarned: there will be obstacles to navigate before you collect any benefits. QR's experienced legal staff can guide you through the following difficulties:

It takes too long. Once you apply for benefits, the decision on your initial application can take 4 to 6 months. If your application is not approved (and most are not), it can then take 1 to 2 years to get a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

It can be unresponsive. Due to the heavy volume of claims, it can be difficult to reach Social Security Administration (SSA) personnel by telephone with questions about the status of your claim.

It doesn't always consider factors that may be important to you. At the initial level, the SSA does not consider your pain and fatigue, but simply checks whether the severity of your condition(s) "matches" the criteria required for a finding of disability.

You will be asked the same questions repeatedly. There are certain things the SSA needs to know in order to evaluate your claim. Unfortunately, the same information may be requested in different formats. It will seem as if you're answering the same questions repeatedly.

It is impersonal. Unless you have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, the person deciding your case will never see you. Decisions are made based on the information provided in the paperwork.

People may tell you what you want to hear. For example, the doctor examining you at the request of SSA may tell you that you will be approved for benefits even though that person has no control over that decision.

Your "day in court" is really an hour. If your claim goes to a hearing, an hour is probably all of the time necessary for the Administrative Law Judge to decide disability in your case, if all of the medical evidence has been previously provided. You won't be able to discuss your full medical history or other issues that concern you; the Judge is strictly concerned with how your present condition affects you and your ability to function in a work situation.

Medical examinations may not be what you expect. An examination by a doctor hired by SSA is limited in scope and is not as thorough as you would like.