Adria Howard could not believe the response to her Social Security Disability (SSD) claim. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denied her any kind of relief, claiming that the stage-4 breast cancer ravaging her body did not prevent her from working. The mother of two young children, Ms. Howard says she plans to file an appeal and get what she deserves.
However, Lowell Kepke, a spokesperson for the SSA admits that Ms. Howard may be waiting a long time. Appeals can take months or even years to go through the system. She reports that in spite of having hired additional staff, the administration still falls behind due to the surge of requests following the onset of the Great Recession. According to the Daily Journal, claims for SSA benefits jumped from 1.5 million in 2001 to 2.9 million in 2011.
Nationally, 11 million people receive SSD payments. However, as Amima Kruck of the organization Arizona Bridge to Independent Living says, “the system is set up to require a lot of people to appeal.” This effectively means that in order to succeed you must be on top of all the nuances of the system or have an advocate working with you to file the appeals, gather the relevant documentation from your doctors and get the paperwork filled out on time. Hiring a qualified attorney who knows the ropes can make all the difference.
In the interim, you should check with your employer to see if they have supplemental disability insurance. Often, such insurance can help bridge the gap until your SSD payments are approved.
Most attorneys who work on SSD claims do so on contingency, meaning that they don’t get paid unless you get paid. They take a percentage of any back claims you are able to recover from the SSA, thus allowing you to focus on getting better. Given the complex nature of the system and the vast amount of documentation required patients who are running out of patience with the SSD claims should work with an attorney rather than playing the waiting game on their own.