BELLEVILLE, Ill. – Nearly 1.4 million people applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits from January to July 2016, representing a slight decrease compared to 1.42 million applicants for the same time period last year, according to SSDI representation service Allsup.
The decline in applications continues a trend reported by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in recent years. Over three years, applications have dropped nearly 7%, from 1,490,981 in 2014 to 1,387,288 in 2016 for this seven-month time period.
“This trend is due in part to the aging U.S. workforce, in particular as more baby boomers reach retirement age and are no longer eligible for SSDI,” said Mike Stein, Allsup assistant vice president of Claims.
More than 151 million U.S. workers are insured for SSDI benefits, which provides monthly income to them in the event of a serious injury or illness that prevents them from working for 12 months or longer, or is terminal. “SSDI has many benefits, including access to healthcare coverage through Medicare, and return-to-work incentives for those people who medically recover and can go back to work,” Stein said.
3 Tips before filing a Social Security Disability Application
Allsup offers the following tips before filing an SSDI application:
1. Understand eligibility. The SSA administers the SSDI program, which has stringent rules to receive benefits. To qualify for SSDI benefits, individuals must have paid FICA payroll taxes, usually worked five of the last 10 years, and have a severe work-disrupting injury or illness that is expected to last at least a year, or is terminal. Applicants also must be under full retirement age (65-67).
“Applying directly to Social Security without first understanding what the agency is looking for, and if you meet their criteria, is a waste of time and resources—yours and theirs,” Stein said.
2. Understand the importance of representation at the application level. Many first-time SSDI applicants do not have a representative to advocate for them until they appeal and request a hearing. By then, they may have to wait two more years for a decision on their claim.
“It’s important to know that only a few disability specialists such as Allsup provide representation at the initial application, which might save you more than 500 days of waiting for benefits if you’re able to receive approval when you first apply,” Stein said. The SSA reports that only 33% of SSDI applicants were approved with their application in fiscal year 2015, in comparison to 50% of Allsup claimants who receive their benefits at the initial application.
3. Be prepared for Social Security’s stringent, lengthy determination process. SSDI is a complex, medical evidence-based program that requires a high level of detail and information, including work history, medical evidence and a thorough assessment of the impact on someone’s activities of daily living. “The complexity of the information required by Social Security can be overwhelming, especially in the fact that you can make simple mistakes that lead to benefits denial,” Stein explained.
The current hearing backlog now exceeds 1.1 million claims with an average wait of 530 days.
About Allsup: Allsup and its subsidiaries provide nationwide Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, re-employment, exchange plan and Medicare services for individuals, their employers and insurance carriers. Allsup professionals deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. Founded in 1984, the company is based in Belleville, Illinois, near St. Louis. Visit http://www.Allsup.com.