There is a misnomer out there that obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) or Social Security Supplemental Income benefits (SSI) is easy. We all ‘know’ a neighbor or friend that has SSD or SSI benefits, but hey, they look fine to me. Remember one important thing, you don’t know their story.
Fact is — it isn’t easy. Just take a look at these numbers. The current approval rate at the initial application level is 36%. That means if you apply for SSD benefits, you only have a 36% chance that you will be approved. Much of that can be dictated by age as well. The older you are, the more likely you may be approved at the initial application level.
However, after denial, the approval rates nationally at the hearing level is 45%. In Pennsylvania, the statewide average approval rate at the hearing level is slightly below the national average at 42%. The Harrisburg appeals office has the same average approval rate of 42%. Again, it is not easy to win SSD/SSI benefits.
Recently, I took a case for an individual out of compassion. She was under the age of 40 and homeless. Her alleged disabilities were mental impairments, undefined heart condition, and a chronic kidney condition. Essentially, she had two strikes against her. Her young age made it more difficult to win benefits. However, through the intake process, I also found out that she had been denied benefits on EIGHT prior attempts, several at the hearing level, and with different attorneys representing her. It was an easy case to turn away.
But, I didn’t. I couldn’t. She needed help. She came to me for a fresh new look at her case and a fresh new attempt. She needed her break to get off the streets and find a place to live. She truly was in a desperate situation and had been for a few years.
Despite several other attorneys failing to win her benefits in the past, I figured I would do my best to shape the argument, explain her conditions, and describe why they were so disabling. We had our day in front of an ALJ in early November. We argued. We described. We explained. And, We WON!
It was a proud win for me individually. It was an SSI case, so the attorney fee was small. That was not what it was about. It was about compassion. It was about giving a helping hand. It was about serving. It was about representation. After eight unsuccessful prior attempts with others, I was proud to have contributed to helping her get back on her feet, gain dignity back, and get a warm place to live and sleep. It was one of those cases that I will always remember.
The point is — sometimes it takes more than one, two, or even three, tries to get social security disability benefits. For people who truly can’t work, have debilitating disabilities, it can certainly be frustrating. Others feel your frustration.
If you have questions about applying for SSD or SSI benefits, or have been recently denied such benefits, call Mooney & Associates today at 717-200-HELP or 1-877-632-4656 for a FREE consultation. We represent disabled clients throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland.