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Social Security Disability application change creates concerns

Understanding the Social Security disability application process may be even more important than it recently was. A Lupus victim, completely unable to work in her dream job because of the ravages of the disease, describes her discouragement at being denied Social Security disability benefits (SSD). It is important, however, for disabled individuals to be prepared that it can be a challenging process but not to be too easily discouraged.

Currently, approximately 45 percent of applicants for SSD benefits are initially approved. In addition, it can take up to 600 days to receive a hearing which is part of the appeals process if an initial application for benefits has been denied. The current backlog began approximately 10 years ago. At present, there are greater 1 million applicants waiting for a hearing. It is feared that a recent change may make wait times even longer.

The change to the application and review process no longer provides special consideration to the applicant's long-term doctor. Now, the evidence from a treating physical of a medical condition causing disability may be evaluated the same as a one-time, and brief, review of the paper file by a medical consultant that may not have conducted an examination of the applicant. The change may especially impact individuals with complex conditions such as lupus, multiple sclerosis or schizophrenia. The change may also lead to more denials of benefits and more appeals.

It is important for disabled individuals to be familiar with the application and appeals processes and should stay abreast of any changes to the application and appeals processes. The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be challenging, difficult and complex which is a reason to thoroughly understand the process and how to negotiate it rather than become discourage from pursuing badly-needed benefits.

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