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Social Security Disability Can Take Years—But a Lawyer Can Help

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Washington, DCGood luck to you if you ever need to file a claim for Social Security Disability (SSD). The latter is there to ensure the viability of citizens whom, through no fault of their own, can no longer work and have no option through private disability insurance.

Legal HelpHowever, getting SSD can be a nightmare—and it doesn't help that some insurance companies will attempt to force their long-term disability clients to apply for SSD for relatively short periods, or for temporary disabilities, succeeding to clog the system even further.

Little wonder than many people are turning to a SSD lawyer to help guide them through the process, and represent their case and cause.

Social Security Disability is available as a cushion to Americans in the event that injury, or some other health-related issue prevents the capacity to work, to earn a living. And the list of health issues and conditions that qualify is fairly exhaustive.

But while the cushion is there, and welcome once you have it—getting it is another matter.

It has been reported that at the state level, the average determination time is 3 to 6 months.

The federal level is even worse. It's been reported that it can take as long as 15 months just to get a hearing in an effort to appeal a disability benefits denial. Beyond the hearing, the process is said to sometimes drag on for years. The backlog of disability claims has been reported to be currently as high as 755,000—that's up from 311,000 in 2000.

The average wait time for an appeals hearing is said to be 505 days, but three years is not uncommon. That's more than three years during which time many people do not have any income whatsoever and resort to spending their savings, selling their assets or borrowing from friends and family just to survive.

An on-line petition seeking reform to how the system operates reveals the plight of Jen Ann Dingle, a single mom who is sponsoring the petition. Dingle includes the revelation at the foot of her petition that she is a single mother unable to pay her rent, and expects to soon be homeless.

Some of the stories can be heartbreaking. One blogger writes that her application for SSD benefits had been in the pipeline for two years, with no results. The applicant takes metformin for her diabetes and undertakes a total of five injections each day to keep her diabetes in check. A wound on her leg is not healing, a foot is turning black and she has lost feeling in her toes. The applicant's vision is rapidly deteriorating.

It is obvious that this SSD applicant is in no position to work. And yet her SSD benefits, to which she is entitled as a qualifying American, have yet to come through. In fact, she says she has been repeatedly turned down.

As identified above, the massive backlog is part of the problem—a backlog not aided by the tendency for some long-term disability insurers to insist on an SSD application as a condition for private long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Even temporary applications for LTD benefits, such as the need for funds to get a policyholder through the healing, and rehabilitation of a temporary injury requiring an extended absence from work, is tied to the requirement to apply for SSD benefits—the insurer hoping that SSD benefits will come through, letting the private insurer off the hook.

Thus, a clogged system coupled with a social insurance system that is being carefully monitored to make sure it doesn't run out of money.

For an SSD applicant with a worthy case and deserving of assistance, it's a recipe for disaster.

It's little wonder that SSD applicants are opting with increasing frequency for the services of a Social Security Disability lawyer, to help steer them through the clogs and clutter. Attorneys usually work on a contingency basis for such cases. Translated, that means the lawyer is only paid if, and when you receive benefits…and even then, there is a limit as to how much your lawyer can collect for her services. The rate is 25 percent of any past due benefits, or $5,300—whichever is less. Current benefits are not affected, and the applicant still gets to keep the lion's share, 75 percent, to apply to debt or repay family and friends for their kindness.

It is a long-held belief that he, who makes the most noise, often gets the results. Given the horrendous challenges, caseload and wait times inherent with the SSD system, it is in your best interest to ensure that first call is to a qualified SSD attorney. It's money well-spent, because if you get lost in the system and fall through the cracks…

…You get nothing.


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