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Social Security Administration's website may instill false hope

In our last post, we mentioned that eligibility for Social Security disability insurance benefits includes several factors. In addition to a qualifying impairment, SSDI eligibility is also based on an applicant’s work history. That’s because the SSDI program is structured in some ways like an insurance policy (albeit a public and mandatory one). Workers pay into the system through payroll deductions.

Is there a way for workers to review their work history? According to a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration, the answer is yes. The Social Security Administration’s website allows visitors to establish an individualized online account. That enables online access to an individual’s Social Security Statement, a document that lists one's complete earnings history. The statement also includes estimates for future Social Security disability benefits.  

According to the SSA spokesperson, the agency’s website is highly successful. Over 15 million Americans have already established their online accounts. In fact, the average number of daily visitors to the site is over 302,000.

Although online access to one’s work history is certainly convenient, a Social Security disability attorney might caution against the false sense of security provided by other aspects of the SSA’s website. For example, the website provides estimates of disability benefits and includes a disability planner. However, no mention is made about the relatively small number of applicants who actually succeed in getting SSDI benefits.

Without an attorney’s help, a claimant may face an uphill battle in seeking benefits. Whether you have a physical or mental impairment or a combination of disabilities, an attorney can help explain all of the nuances of the government’s SSDI application process.

Source: USA Today, “Website of the Month: socialsecurity.gov,” Nov. 19, 2014

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