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December 2012 sees record number of disabled workers

The Social Security Administration recently released the latest data about the Social Security Disability program. Social Security Disability benefits are payable to those who are no longer able to work due to a medical condition and who have paid sufficient Social Security Disability taxes in prior years when they were working. With the number of claims steadily creeping upward in 2012, the Social Security Administration recorded the highest number of disabled workers ever in December.

Nearly nine million workers now collecting Social Security Disability

In December, 2012, there were 8,827,795 workers collecting Social Security Disability benefits. The December total was up 22,442 from just one month prior.

About 3.2 million people applied for Social Security Disability benefits in 2012. That is in increase of more than 20 percent over the 2.6 million claims made in 2008.

The high demand for disability benefits has made it difficult for the Social Security Administration to keep up. Disability claim backlogs have meant many disabled workers have to wait a significant amount of time before receiving payments, particularly when a claim is initially denied.

Expansion of Compassionate Allowances list in December is no cure-all for backlog

One initiative the Social Security Administration is using to try to reduce backlog is the Compassionate Allowances program. The program is meant to fast-track disability claims made by people who have one of the serious and rare illnesses on the Compassionate Allowances list. Conditions on the compassionate allowances list include several forms of cancer, early-onset Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's disease. In December, 35 new conditions were added to the list, bringing the total number of conditions eligible for a Compassionate Allowance to 200.

When someone with a listed condition provides proper evidence, they should be approved for benefits in 10 to 15 days, rather than the weeks or months that is common for many disabled workers. So far, 200,000 people have received expedited benefits through the Compassionate Allowances program. Still, the program has not had a widespread impact on overall backlog in the Social Security Disability system, and even among those with a listed condition, getting benefits quickly has been no sure bet: an internal review of the program found that in about 40 percent of the Compassionate Allowances cases studied, the Social Security Administration mishandled the claim, either rejecting valid claims or taking too long to approve them.

Retaining a Social Security Disability attorney is best way to get benefits quickly

When you are put out of work by a disability, you need payments as soon as possible. Unfortunately, considering the current state of the Social Security Disability system, you will likely have to wait. According to the Social Security Administration, two-thirds of initial disability applications are rejected. While rejected benefit claims can be appealed, the hearing process currently takes an average of 354 days to get a decision.

The best way to ensure that your disability claim gets approved, and that it gets approved as quickly as possible, is to retain a Social Security Disability lawyer. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer will be familiar with the ins and outs of the system, will know who to contact at regional Social Security offices and will be able to present strong arguments as to why you should be awarded benefits.

If a disability has put you out of work, get the payments you deserve. Call a Social Security Disability attorney today.

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