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Lack of help at SSA makes claims process worse

Obtaining benefits from Social Security for a disability has always been a challenge. The requirements for eligibility demand a complex application be submitted. This application is where you describe your medical conditions to Social Security. This medical evidence is important in determining whether they approve your SSD benefits.

However, in addition to this challenge of assembling your medical information and submitting your application, there is the challenge of dealing with the process. Your application may include a great many pieces of paper, and all of that paper must move through the process, with the correct people seeing it, and, you hope, finding that it entitles you to benefits.

In the last decade, SSA has suffered numerous budget cutbacks and hiring freezes, that have made this second problem worse for those applying for SSD benefits. There are fewer people to answer the phones and those who answer the phone may not provide the best assistance.

SSA has closed a record number of offices and reduced hours in those offices that remain open. It has attempted to become more "web friendly" and epush people to find information and services online.

The problem is that while this may help computer-savvy people, for those suffering many disabling conditions and who don't use the Internet, much of that material may not be easy to understand or make sense.

Because SSD applications are so personalized and specific, individuals often have questions where they need someone to answer a phone or be available in an office, where they can speak directly to a live person, ask questions and provide the information SSA needs to process their claim.

It can be frustrating and may lead to people abandon their claims. To minimize some of these problems, many work with attorneys, who understand the SSD process and system and can provide answers, help with their claim and deal with appeals or hearings.

Source: theatlantic.com, "The Hell of Applying for Government Benefits," Laura Kwerel, June 12, 2016

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