Belleville, IL (Vocus) September 22, 2010
Individuals submitting initial applications for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) could benefit from the use of a third-party representative, according to a recent report by the federal government. The report helps dispel the long-held idea that the process of filing for and documenting a request for SSDI benefits is easy to do alone, even though 63 percent of all initial applicants are denied benefits, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of SSDI representation services.
The Aug. 20, 2010, report from Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Social Security Administration (SSA) examined the four impairments most often denied at the initial application level, but later approved for benefits at the hearing level.1 These were: back disorders, osteoarthrosis and related disorders, diabetes mellitus, and disorders of muscle, ligament and fascia. The inspector general said:
If claimants with the four impairments we analyzed had representatives earlier in the disability process, some of them may have received an allowance decision at the DDS level2, saving them time and SSA money. First, the claimants may not have had to go to the hearing level if they had representatives to assist them with completing SSAs forms and providing the necessary evidence at the DDS level. This could have saved some claimants about 500 days in receiving an allowance decision.
Allsups own experience after 26 years of providing representation services to those with all types of disabilities seems to bear this out. Those who hire us at the application level have a higher award rate at that level than the national average, said Mike J. Stein, assistant vice president of claims for Allsup.
Many qualified applicants could avoid a long wait by receiving assistance with their application at the beginning of the SSDI process, Stein said. As discussed in the report, a representative could ensure that your application is well-prepared and well-documented, making it easier and faster for the government to determine if youre eligible and unable to work due to a disability.
The OIG, citing the Social Security Administration, also discusses the challenges of finding representation at the application level where financial incentives for representatives are lower. Although Allsup represents initial applicants, many representativesoften attorneysdo not accept SSDI cases until the appeals level. In addition, many applicants do not know help is available. The OIG cites Allsups 2009 survey of approximately 300 SSDI applicants who the company helped on appeal after they applied for benefits on their own.3 Fifty-one percent of the respondents said they were unaware they could retain a representative to assist with their initial filing for Social Security disability benefits.
Allsup explains six advantages of representation to those who are considering applying for SSDI benefits.