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Cincinnati Social Security Disability Law Blog

Is it too easy to obtain SSDI benefits?

The question posed in the headline of this post is an argument that has gone on for decades, possibly since the inception of Social Security Disability Insurance.

There are many who point to the minority of beneficiaries who are receiving benefits for apparently dubious illnesses or injuries as an indication that the Social Security Administration is too generous or lenient.

A recent NPR report entitled "Unfit for Work: The Startling Rise of Disability in America" by Chana Joffe-Walt points out that there are places in the country where nearly one in four are receiving benefits.

But does this mean that it is too easy to collect benefits?

Is bipolar disorder eligible for Social Security disability?

The Social Security Administration defines disability as a condition that lasts for at least a year -- or results in death -- that prevents a person from doing their current job and from adjusting to other work. But while the SSA considers this definition to be strict and absolute, our Ohio readers probably realize that it actually leaves a lot up to interpretation.

Take for example bipolar disorder. Although the condition is treatable, its symptoms can be severe, impacting everything from social interactions to job performance to day-to-day life. The condition can also affect a person for the rest of their life, meaning they may or may not be able to hold down a job or adjust to other work. Here is this gray area we hinted at above, which may lead some of our readers to an important question: is bipolar disorder eligible for Social Security disability?

How do I ensure I'm getting accurate information from the SSA?

You would think that anyone who handles customer relations for any product or service supplier would be able to address customers' concerns. If they aren't, it would seem reasonable to expect there would be a way to escalate an issue up the ladder until someone could be found who knows what's what.

That doesn't happen in the commercial world all the time. It seems even rarer when it comes to government agencies such as the Social Security Administration. And the results can be particularly detrimental, especially to beneficiaries who are dependent on Social Security Disability Insurance. It begs the question, how can you be sure that what an SSA official tells you is right?

Do antiquated rules and regs slow SSA disability decisions?

When it comes to the speed or lack of it in the Social Security Administration and claims for disability benefits get handled, there is no doubt about where we stand on the subject.

We've written any number of blog entries about this issue. We also have a number of articles that readers in our Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky audience can draw upon to get a handle on how massive the backlog of claims is and why it takes so long for decisions to be made.

When we last wrote about processing times, we drew on information for 2010 to report that the national average time between when a hearing with an administrative law judge was requested and when it was held was 424 days. By comparison, nearly all the wait times for hearings in our region were longer than that.

Does your illness make you eligible for SSDI?

When someone becomes impaired and unable to work there can be a lot of reasons why. Statistically speaking, the conditions that tend to trigger the largest number of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance stem from physical issues. Whether you happen to be a laborer in the metals industry, construction or a nurse in a clinical setting, physical work is required. It's not unusual for individuals in these lines of work to suffer injuries to their backs, knees and shoulders to a point where they can't do their jobs.

There are some illnesses that qualify for SSDI as well. Some are physical. Others are mental. They can be just as impairing as the more common physical issues, but they are often harder to nail down from an objective medical evidence standpoint. 

'Modest' is the word used to describe SSDI benefit boost

Modesty is supposed to be a good thing. In most polite society and as a matter of religious tenet, modesty is something to strive for -- a virtue. But that's only in the context of definition number one in most dictionaries. There's a second definition that gets applied to amounts or levels reflecting that one may be relatively small when compared to others.

It is definition number two that The Wall Street Journal uses to describe the level that beneficiaries of the Social Security Administration can expect in their next cost of living increase. The word from the SSA is that the monthly benefits now being paid to about 64 million individuals in Ohio and the rest of the country will rise by 1.7 percent in 2015.

SSDI application process may benefit from an assist

If you are in circumstances that have you thinking about obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you may be feeling rather overwhelmed. The process is at the very least unfamiliar to most people. And few who have put in years of hard work are prepared for the kind of scrutiny that the Social Security Administration applies when determining whether you are eligible for SSDI coverage.

As many readers may know, denials of initial application are not uncommon. The opportunity to appeal is open, but it can take a very long time. Patience and hope can wear thin. But while it may seem daunting, the process doesn't have to be faced alone. 

There are limits, but being on SSDI does not mean you can't work

The government loves acronyms. The FBI and CIA are two common ones. They're so common in fact that usual Associated Press stylebook rules don't apply to them. AP style normally doesn't allow use of acronyms until after the full name of the organization has been used first. But not so with FBI and CIA -- they're good to go just as they are.

Such flexibility does not apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the programs associated with it such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), or the tags the agency applies to the factors it uses in determining SSDI benefit approvals and denials. Take for example "substantial gainful activity" (SGA).

As we explained in a somewhat in-depth article on the subject not long ago, SGA is that standard that the government seeks to use to decide whether a person is eligible for benefits or not. 

How ignorance leads to a demeaning of those with disabilities

We live in an age of electronic wonderment, don't we? Information flashes around the globe on the Internet at a speed close to that of light. That can be a great thing. But it can also be a problem.

Not only is it bad if the information is inaccurate, but very often it is spread around by individuals with a particular bias without regard for whether it's true or what effect it might have on innocent individuals who are targets of the faulty communication.

What's the key to a successful Social Security Disability appeal?

Not every initial application for Social Security Disability is denied. But the statistical reality is that many of them are. The reasons why may be many. It may be that the reviewers decided that information was not complete enough. Specifically, it may be deemed that medical documentation isn't sufficient to back the claim.

Another reason that a person might run into trouble seeking SSD benefits is if they fail to take advantage of all the avenues of appeal. There are instances in which people will file, get denied, and then file a whole new application. Many observers say this is a recipe for disaster and can result in someone who really needs help suffering unnecessary delays.

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