The process for obtaining Social Security disability benefits is widely known as an arduous, time-confusing and complex endeavor in the best of times. In the trouble-ridden economy that has adversely affected so many people, traversing the bureaucracy and ultimately securing benefits has become even more difficult.
Applications are up, say Social Security officials - way up. In fact, they rose by more than 20 percent just from 2008 to 2009 alone, the sharpest increase over a one-year period in the history of the Social Security program.
The numbers suggest that it's all about the economy: More than eight million workers were receiving disability benefits in June of this year, an increase of nearly 13 percent since the recession officially began in 2007.
Government officials are frankly worried that the program is being assaulted by applicants who are driven to it more by financial need than by health concerns. The purpose of the program is being undermined as a result, they say.
Many of the applicants "can't find any new work and are desperate," says Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue. "So they have every incentive to try and get in the program."
In the majority of cases, applicants are rejected for benefits early in the process. Many of them consider that the end of the matter and don't appeal. Others tire of the forms, the reconsideration of the application, the appeals process and, generally, the long trek through the system.
Statistics from multiple sources clearly show, though, that an applicant who secures the assistance of an experienced Social Security disability attorney stands a strong chance of obtaining benefits. Strong and knowledgeable legal representation is especially helpful during the appeals process and in interactions with administrative law judges. Securing experienced counsel could now be more important than ever, given the dramatic increase in filings.
Related Resource: www.washingtonpost.com "Disability claims rising sharply at Social Security" September 14, 2010