The Social Security Administration (SSA) makes it easy to get retirement benefits. If you have worked and paid into Social Security for at least 10 years, all you have to do to get your monthly check is to reach retirement age. Unfortunately, should you become disabled and find that you need your Social Security benefits before retirement age because you’re sick and can’t work, it's not that easy.
SSA must be certain that you really deserve to get your benefits now. You must have a medical condition that permanently interferes with your ability to work for a year or result in death. It sounds harsh, but SSA must safeguard the system to avoid social security disability fraud. Unfortunately, because the approval process is so complicated, millions of first-time disability claims are denied by SSA, which has caused a severe backlog of claims appealing denied decisions. It can take as long as two years to get through the process to getting approved for Social Security benefits based on disability. But we know that, if you are seriously sick or injured and really can’t work, you need the money you are entitled to and deserve to get as soon as possible.
If you are Internet-savvy, and applying for SSDI, you can apply for disability benefits online directly with the Social Security Administration. This may sound easy enough, but applying on your own is not that simple a process. Actually, with all the details that are required about you, your family, your work history and your medical condition, it can be overwhelming, especially if you aren’t feeling well. Another option is to get the help of a Social Security disability representative.
Keep in mind that if you don’t win your case, your disability lawyer does not win a fee for services. If you do win, your lawyer will get paid. The fee is set by SSA and is always a one-time payment that represents 25% of the back payments that are due to you from Social Security, capped at $6,000. So the longer it takes for your case to get approved, the greater the lawyer's fee will be. Building a strong case from the beginning of the process could shorten the period of time to wait for benefits, and thus keep your representative's fee low.
You may be thinking, I can do this on my own and get more money. The point is, without an expert to guide you through the process, you can easily make some big mistakes. Just missing one deadline or submitting incomplete paperwork is enough for SSA to deny your claim. And then you will need to prove that SSA is wrong to deny you.
The stakes are high, considering that SSA denies more than 60% of first-time applications. It very often takes an administrative law judge at an appeals hearing to decide your case. But the wait to get to that point can take over a year.
If you do have to appeal, before your hearing you need to have put together a strong case with all the key components needed to demonstrate that you are, indeed, deserving of disability benefits. If not, you'll have to apply all over again, and wait another year or two. Since the rate of getting approved after hearings is significantly higher if you have a disability lawyer, you should consider hiring one.