Social security disability benefits provide a much needed lifeline for individuals suffering from long term illness or injuries that make them unable to hold a job. Our society has long had a commitment to care for those unable to work due to disabilities. With the aging of America's workforce, these benefits are more important now than ever. Sometimes, however, those in need of such benefits face difficulties obtaining them.
Challenges Applicants Face in Qualifying for Benefits
It is more difficult to get Social Security disability benefits now then it was in the past, according a recent USA Today piece. Some significant changes include:
- Obesity and diabetes are now not considered distinct disabilities
- Alcoholism, drug abuse and undocumented pain have been disqualified as disabilities
- Higher standards need to be met for mental retardation and HIV to qualify as disabilities
- Undocumented immigrants have been disqualified from receiving benefits
In order to qualify for disability benefits, applicants must provide evidence that shows their medical condition meets the Social Security Administration's strict definition of disability. Medical evidence from the applicant's doctor and other sources must document the applicant's medical condition, when it began, how it limits physical activities, and tests and treatments that have been received.
To qualify, applicants for Social Security disability benefits must have been employed in positions covered by Social Security. Additionally, in most cases an injury must be expected to last at least 12 months and be substantial enough to keep the injured party from returning to work during that time.
Steps Applicants Should Take
It is important to file for benefits promptly, since it often takes several months to process disability applications. Navigating through the various requirements and paperwork necessary to receive disability benefits is challenging. In fact, most applicants are turned down on their first try. An experienced disability lawyer can assist individuals throughout the application process, and help ensure they receive the benefits the need.