In 2013, the Social Security Administration (SSA) paid out $10 billion to over 8.9 million beneficiaries. Yet these gaudy benefit numbers hide a nationwide trend showing that approvals for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) have steadily declined since 2010. This decline in approvals has only served to add fuel to the argument made by critics that the SSA requirements for disability benefits need to be revised.
SSA representatives, for their part, point to the increased number of applications that the agency has received in recent years from an aging baby boom population as well as more applications from people with marginal disabilities who are out of work due to recent economic struggles as the reasons behind the decline in approvals. Yet critics point out alleged biases in the approval system itself that stacks the deck against applicants.
The initial determination of one’s benefit eligibility is made solely through a review of medical records. It’s estimated that only 25-35 percent of applicants are approved during this initial review. After an initial denial, an applicant can then have his or her case heard through an administrative law judge, who is actually an attorney hired by the SSA as an independent observer to review one’s claim. Many critics point that during the SSA’s most recent round of new judge mires, a large percentage of those chosen were attorneys who had previously worked for the agency. They argue that these new judges come into these appeal hearings with their views already influenced from their previous association with the SSA.
As one can see, the road to receiving SSDI benefits can be a rocky one. Knowing that roughly 75% of all initial applicants will have to go through the appeals process, one can see the difficulty in pursuing such benefits on his or her own. A Social Security attorney may be of great assistance in helping one work through the approval and, if needed, appeal process.
Source: Citizens Voice “Social Security disability approvals decline” Terrie Morgan-Besecker, Dec. 02, 2013