January 09, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/
-- In spite of diligent work by government officials, the nation's disability law attorneys and advocates for the disabled, the interminable wait continues for countless Americans seeking Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income disability benefits.
A recent expose published by The Baltimore Sun newspaper shows that applicants are waiting anywhere from 150 days to 635 days for an award of disability benefits. That is, of course, after disabled people have already waited a minimum of five months before a benefit will be paid; the initial delay is required by Social Security Administration
regulations, and it helps ensure that only those who are facing long-term disability will receive benefits.
Tragically, the SSA itself says that about 2,000 people waiting for disability payments die each year while waiting to hear back about their benefit applications. Some of them surely die from causes unrelated to their disability claim
- like heart attack, accident or stroke victims, something more common in our aging population -- but many don't, leaving their families facing a mountain of medical debt related to the underlying disability and no way to recover from the months or even years of lost income spent waiting for a disability award.
Federal disability payment programs like SSDI and SSI are only intended for those whose medical (both physical and mental) conditions will last - or is expected to last - more than one year and will prevent them from getting or keeping gainful employment during that time. Shorter-term disability issues might qualify for benefits under an employer's short-term disability insurance policy, or some form of state-level government aid, but they typically aren't eligible for federal SSDI or SSI payments.
Congress' latest action
Congress has finally stepped in to investigate complaints about the system at work to grant or deny disability benefits. The Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations recently announced the results of an 18-month review of disability policies and actual cases of real people applying for benefits.
They found a gross disparity in the rate at which individual administrative law judges around the country awarded benefits in cases that were appealed (either by an applicant who was initially denied benefits or by the SSA when the agency felt that benefits were not warranted) and heard before them. The Subcommittee found one judge who awarded benefits over 99 percent of the time, and another who only granted them to 5 percent of the time. While no direct link between the rate of benefit awards issued by particular judges and their political affiliations, the more conservative a judge's other views were, the more often he or she denied benefits.
Disability law attorneys are there to help clients wade through the mess of bureaucratic and administrative red tape that must be navigated to apply for benefits and - if necessary - appeal a denial. If you or a loved one is facing the stressful situation of a long-term disability and is unable to work, consider speaking with a skilled disability lawyer in your area; doing so might help increase your chances of receiving disability benefit payments.
Article provided by Richard A. Sly Attorney at Law
Visit us at www.richardsly.com---
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