Disability Secrets and Tips

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Social Security may come with its insecurities, particularly when one is seeking disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The application and review process, being especially strict to filter out those who abuse the provision, may seem like being kicked when you are already down. But by considering some lesser known secrets and tips from those who know from experience, your own experience may be less painful and even more successful.

Considerations

  • Don't set yourself up for a psychological crash. The book "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Dummies" notes that obtaining disability benefits is often a chore and sometimes a battle. Those who handle your case and communicate with you may appear indifferent or even hostile toward your plight. But this is just the nature of the process, and not a personal attack. Knowing this means that you should prepare yourself for an experience that will require perseverance, aggression and a coherent demonstration of evidence that supports your case.

Expectations

  • The SSA's website, socialsecurity.gov, provides instructions for applying and determining eligibility. The site also provides instructions for how to appeal if the SSA denies your first application. The book, "The Secrets of Money," cites an important fact that every applicant must consider: obtaining disability benefits from the SSA means proving disability in doing anything. For example, even if a person loses his legs and can't perform his former job, which required the use of his legs, still the SSA can argue that the applicant has his arms, and thus still is able to work, just in a different field, such as computers.

Application

  • Once you submit your application it goes to a panel of physicians for approval. According to the book "Rheumatology Secrets," the panel approves about one-third of these applications. If initially denied, however, an applicant may have his case reviewed by another panel. If denied even at this point, the applicant may appeal to an administrative law judge who may require that the applicant make a personal appearance. This judge approves about 50 percent of the cases. But if denied even after this review, the applicant may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council and to a U.S. District Court, which results in relatively few approved cases. Overall, notes "Rheumatology Secrets," the SSA approves about 40 to 50 percent of applications received.

Options

  • Because of the uncertainty inherent in applying for disability benefits from the SSA, some opt for short- or long-term disability insurance from private firms. "The Secrets of Money" author Braun Mincher, though, asserts that this type of disability insurance is maybe the most undersold insurance in America. Part of the reason comes from the misconception that health insurance and disability insurance offer the same benefits — or that worker's compensation sits in the same category as disability insurance. For disability coverage that's more certain, then, consider purchasing a short- or long-term disability insurance policy — or both.

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References

  • “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder For Dummies”; Mark Goulston; 2007
  • Social Security Administration
  • “The Secrets of Money: A Guide for Everyone on Practical Financial Literacy”; Braun Mincher; 2007
  • “Rheumatology Secrets”; Sterling G. West; 2002
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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