Three year wait highlights difficulties with Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability applicants may be waiting longer than ever to receive benefits. These tips can help you receive your benefits in a more timely manner.

Social Security Disability is designed to offer financial aid to those who are injured and unable to work. Unfortunately for those waiting to receive these benefits, the time it takes to process an application appears to be taking longer than ever before. This was recently highlighted by the story of a woman who waited over three years to receive SSD payments. The woman had various injuries to her back and neck that prevented her from working. She filed a claim for benefits after she was unable to work in 2010. Her case was finally heard by an administrative law judge in February of 2013.

This woman's story is not unheard of. Even those who clearly qualify for benefits, like the woman mentioned above, can face significant wait times. Having a better idea of how the process works can help applicants to improve their chances of approval once their applicants are reviewed. This can lead to a more successful application and potentially reduce the wait time for those who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.

One way to look at the process is to break it down into three broad steps. First, review qualification requirements. Next, consider what it takes to put together a successful application. And lastly, take steps to help increase your odds of success.

The first step: Qualification

In order to receive benefits, applicants must have worked for a certain period of time and have an injury that impairs them from returning to their job. The Social Security Administration (SSA) explains that the amount of time a person must have worked to qualify depends on the age the applicant is at the time he or she becomes disabled.

The SSA also has a strict interpretation of the term "disabled." In order to meet this definition, the individual must be unable to work and the disability must have lasted or be expected to last at least one year.

The second step: Application

In order to apply for these benefits, an applicant must prepare a detailed list of medical information as well as employment information. This information is then reviewed by a local, state examiner to determine if the applicant meets the medical criteria. The length of time for this process varies from a couple of months to a number of years.

If denied, the finding can be appealed. The AARP notes in a recent publication that over half of all applicants are denied benefits the first time they apply. Within this group, half those that chose to move forward with the appeals process ultimately receive benefits.

The third step: Receiving benefits

Whether at the initial application phase or considering moving forward with an appeal of a denial of benefits, those who are looking to receive social security disability benefits are wise to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney. This legal professional will review your situation and work to better ensure you receive the benefits you are entitled to.