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Disability applicants may fare better in live hearings

According to recent data, a substantial number of Social Security disability insurance applicants are filing appeals.

Technically, a reconsideration request is generally made after an initial denial. If that outcome is negative, an applicant may then request an in-person hearing before an administrative law judge.  

An attorney that specializes in SSDI benefits might interpret high initial denial rates as an opportunity in disguise. For example, the format of an in-person hearing might be more persuasive, allowing an SSDI applicant to present more evidentiary context of how a disability affects his or her functioning.

Of course, not every SSDI applicant may be able to withstand the processing delay that often affects each stage of the appeal. Ideally, an attorney might help an applicant include enough medical history to achieve an approval on the first attempt.

A recent article, however, suggests that even SSDI applicants with the same disability might have different results. The reason: There are many factors that influence the determination of whether a person is disabled in the eyes of the Social Security Administration.

Of course, that disparate treatment among similarly diagnosed individuals might be unfair. Nevertheless, an attorney might caution applicants that both age and occupation might be factored into the eligibility analysis. A younger worker might be expected to have more resilience and adapt to different work expectations. Similarly, an office worker might receive less favorable treatment than a construction or physical laborer.

The lesson to be learned from the story is that SSDI benefits are often approved on a case-by-case basis, after the evaluation of many factors. An attorney that specializes in disability benefits might have unique insights into which factors might be more persuasive to SSA officials.

Source: timesfreepress.com, “Inside the world of disability claims,” Judy Walton, Sept. 16, 2013

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