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Do not attempt this on your own: disability benefit applications

It’s the start of a new year. For many, that marker serves as a catalyst for making new resolutions or adding items to a to-do list. Ultimately, the completion of such resolutions may depend upon an individual’s self-sufficiency and resolve.

Yet when a physical or mental disability strikes, it may not be advisable to approach the disability benefits application process with such a can-do attitude. A recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office explains why it is usually in an applicant’s best interest to consult with a disability benefits attorney.

According to GAO investigators, many states pay Social Security claim advocates as a form of public assistance when applying for Social Security disability benefits. Yet those claimant support programs may be hit-or-miss, ultimately helping only about 1 percent of initial SSDI claim filers.

An applicant who cannot work due to a physical or mental disability may face a severe hardship without assistance. He or she may not be able to afford getting the initial application wrong. Considering the high denial rate of SSDI claims, it is advisable to consult with an attorney. An attorney who focuses on disability benefits will be familiar with the intricacies of the Social Security Administration’s legal requirements.

First, an applicant needs to know how the Social Security Administration legally defines his or her impairment. Those definitions can be found in the SSA’s Blue Book. In addition, an applicant will generally improve his or her chances of qualifying by listing all severe medical conditions. Although a condition might not qualify on its own, the totality of functional impairment presented by several conditions might result in SSDI eligibility.

Source:, “GAO: Public SSDI claim help mostly a mystery,” Allison Bell, Jan. 5, 2015

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