For as long as you have received paychecks from employers with certain taxes withheld, you have likely made contributions to the Social Security program. Workers accumulate credits based on their annual taxable income, and even part-time employees will eventually qualify for retirement benefits or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits if they become unable to work due to medical issues before they reach the age of retirement.
Given that SSDI is available to any worker with a sufficiently serious medical condition and an adequate work history, you might think that you can easily manage an application for SSDI benefits alone. However, while you technically can apply on your own behalf, doing so may not be the best decision.
Applying without help could quickly lead to mistakes
Do you understand what the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires in terms of medical documentation if you want to prove that you have a disabling medical condition? Do you know about the unique rules that apply to certain applicants, like blue-collar workers who only have a marginal education?
The average person doesn’t understand much about how the Social Security program works, let alone the details of the SSDI benefits program. Applicants may make mistakes that lead to denied benefits if they try to handle their applications without support.
When you look at approval rates between 2010 and 2019, the need for professional help is obvious. Only 21% of applicants receive approval for benefits when they first apply, and the final award rate is only 31%. More than two-thirds of applicants never get benefits, and roughly 10% of applicants only get benefits after appealing an initial denial. Successfully appealing could be even more of a challenge than applying without assistance.
Splitting your attention while healing could be problematic
Any doctor can easily explain to you how psychological stress affects your physical health. Stress impacts everything from how well you sleep at night to how effective your immune system is. Many people find simply managing the evidence collection and application process stressful.
If they receive a denial notice and realize that their hope of financial stability depends on a successful appeal, they may feel even more anxious about gathering documentation for the reconsideration stage or finding experts to testify at a hearing. When you hire an attorney to help with an SSDI application, they manage the details so that you can simply focus on healing and adjusting to the demands created by your disabling medical condition.
Understanding why many people turn to legal professionals when applying for SSDI benefits can help you see the value of getting professional help when you can no longer work.