The Realities of the SSDI Process
When first-time Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants submit an application for benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA), they often assume that they will be granted benefits on the basis of this initial application. In truth, however, the large majority of initial SSDI applications are denied by SSA examiners — industry observers estimate that only 30-35 percent of these initial applications are approved.
Given the likelihood of a denial, it’s important to be thorough when submitting an application for benefits.
Documentation — Be Thorough When Submitting a Claim
If you’re in Tampa, then your SSDI application will be reviewed by the local SSA office (and the medical documentation will be evaluated by the Tampa Disability Determination Services office).
When submitting an SSDI application, it’s important to provide a complete application that is not missing any key information. You’ll want to include the following:
- Identification documents (i.e., birth certificate, family names)
- Medical records
- Pharmaceutical records
- Work history documentation
- Workers’ compensation claim information
- Financial information (i.e., bank account numbers)
- Physician testimony (i.e., official recommendation of disability)
- Vocational testimony (i.e., employer and coworker testimony regarding work capabilities pre-and-post-disability)
- And more
SSDI Benefits Denied? Challenge the Decision
If your application for SSDI benefits is denied, don’t worry! You have a number of options at your disposal:
- You can resubmit your application, ensuring that you have a more comprehensive set of documents to support your claim for SSDI benefits;
- You can file for reconsideration (i.e., have another SSA examiner evaluate your application) — at this stage, you can include additional documentation if necessary to update your application;
- If reconsideration leads to another denial, then you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge — during this time, you can introduce additional documentation and evidence;
- If the hearing leads to another denial, then you may request that the Appeals Council review the Administrative Law Judge’s decision; and
- If the entire administrative appeals process has been exhausted, then you can potentially bring aa lawsuit against the SSA in federal court to secure the SSDI benefits to which you’re entitled.
As you move through each step of the process, it becomes increasingly likely that your application for SSDI benefits will be granted (assuming that you are following proper protocol, have a legitimate claim for benefits, and are introducing all the evidence necessary to support that claim). It’s therefore critical that you do not resign yourself to the SSA’s initial denial of benefits. Many SSDI recipients did not receive benefits until they challenged the original denial.
If you’ve been disabled due to an illness, injury, or other condition, then you may have a right to submit a claim and receive SSDI benefits through the SSA. Submitting a claim for benefits is not necessarily going to lead to a payout, however — in fact, the statistics reveal that it’s quite unlikely for an initial submission to be accepted.
In Tampa, claimants should work closely with qualified Social Security disability lawyers who can guide them through the process and help them submit an airtight application (and challenge the denial, if necessary).