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A closer look at Social Security disability applications

The process of applying for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can be complex and challenging at times. Greater than 11 million Americans receive a total of $143 billion each year through SSD when they are unable to work because of a serious medical condition or impairment that is expected to last for a year or longer or result in death. During 2013, the Social Security Administration received 2.7 million applications for Social Security disability which has seen an increase in applications for benefits since approximately a decade ago.

The number of applications for Social Security disability benefits that are approved is considerably smaller at an average of 36 percent of applications which is an approval rate that has remained fairly constant from 2004 to 2013. Approximately a quarter of applicants for SSD see their applications approved, while another 2 percent are approved on appeal and an additional 11 percent more are approved through the hearing process which follows the appeals process.

The hearing process can extend the application process out to a year or longer and many applications for SSD benefits, at least initially, are denied. The application process requires the applicant to provide certain medical information, and even information from certain medical professionals, or make available certain information during a specified process. It is important for applicants to pull together and prepare as many of their medical records as possible. Promptly providing thorough medical records can establish treatment for a serious condition that impairs the applicant's ability to work. It is helpful to have additional information in order such as income information.

Knowing the requirements to receive Social Security disability benefits and providing information meeting those requirements during the application process can be essential to a successful application for badly needed benefits. As there are important timelines, such as appealing within 2 months, associated with the application process, and the overall process can be challenging to navigate at times, it is important to have as much information as possible when applying for SSD benefits.

Source: CNBC, "Steps to successfully apply for Social Security disability," Kelli B. Grant, Feb. 1, 2016

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