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Understanding Social Security disability benefits

While many Missouri residents may think of Social Security primarily in terms of retirement benefits, the disability benefits are also quite important. Social Security has been in place for approximately 80 years, designed to help individuals deal with the challenges of life. The program was expanded to include disability coverage in the mid-1950s. Approximately 91 percent of U.S. citizens who have not yet reached retirement age but who are old enough to be in the workforce are covered. The insurance provided is equivalent to a nearly $600,000 insurance policy.

While the coverage is helpful, the benefits are meager in comparison to typical wages. In fact, the monthly benefits equate to approximately half of the earnings experienced while working. Without these benefits, individuals finding themselves incapacitated due to injury or illness might find themselves in much poorer condition. Additionally, approval standards for Social Security disability benefits are very stringent. In the initial phases of applying for these benefits, approximately 80 percent of applicants receive denials. Many die while awaiting a decision about benefits. Nearly 20 percent of those approved die within their first five years of receiving disability payments. This may be due to the stringency of the standards and the condition in which applicants find themselves when applying.

The Social Security Administration is very particular about requiring appropriate supporting evidence when evaluating whether an individual may qualify for disability benefits. In fact, the U.S. is considered to be the strictest nation with regard to disability benefits. An individual facing challenges with finding work due to physical or mental impairment and facing a lack of response in seeking disability benefits may want to work with an experienced lawyer.

A lawyer may be able to coordinate input from specialists to confirm a client's physical or emotional impairments. Additionally, a lawyer can assist a client in preparing for interviews with those making benefit decisions.

Source: American Progress, "Social Security Disability Insurance", Rebecca Vallas and Shawn Fremstad , July 08, 2014

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