Allsup outlines most common reasons people choose to get representation when they apply for SSDI, a complex but worthwhile benefit for people with long-term disabilities.
Belleville, IL (Vocus) November 13, 2008 -– Difficult decisions face people who have become disabled and can no longer work, and one of the most important is how to begin the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits, according to Allsup, which represents people nationwide for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI).
“You’ve worked hard, paid your taxes and you are entitled to Social Security retirement and—should you need it—Social Security disability benefits,” said Jim Allsup, CEO and founder of the first nationwide non-attorney representation services company nearly 25 years ago. “Applying for disability is an intimidating process because you’ve never done it before, and it’s not like qualifying for Social Security retirement.”
The typical application requires pages of information, including someone’s employment history, activities of daily living, medical records, treatment history and other detailed information. “It would be a cumbersome process for anyone, but especially for the individual who is dealing with an injury, chronic condition or terminal illness,” he said.
SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides monthly benefits to individuals who are under full retirement age (age 65 or older) and who can no longer work because of a disability (injury, illness or condition) that is expected to last for 12 months or is terminal. Individuals must have paid FICA taxes to be eligible. More details are provided in the “SSDI Overview” on Allsup.com.
Ten Reasons To Get SSDI Representation
There are several factors behind people’s decision to get representation help when they apply for Social Security disability benefits. Allsup outlines some of the most common reasons below.
1. You can learn whether you are likely to qualify for SSDI benefits. There are multiple criteria and guidelines the SSA uses to determine whether someone should receive Social Security disability benefits.
“This is not an automatic decision based on age like the Social Security retirement program, it’s much more complex,” said David Bueltemann, supervisor, senior claimant representatives. Allsup offers a checklist of items and free evaluation services, so you can find out quickly whether your circumstances, including disability and work history, will make you eligible to apply for SSDI.
2. You are more likely to get through the SSDI process more quickly the first time around. People who use Allsup’s representation services are more likely to get their benefits at the initial application level. Allsup’s award rate for initial claims is 49 percent compared with the SSA standard of 35 percent. Getting your benefits at the first level, which takes an average four to six months, can be a significant time-saver because your case does not advance to the next levels of the process (i.e. reconsideration and hearing levels) that also can take months for review and a decision.
3. You don’t have to be the expert. You will have someone working on your behalf who is an expert on the SSDI process and who understands the requirements of the Social Security Administration.
“The SSA has an elaborate policy manual that it follows to evaluate disability applications,” said Mr. Bueltemann. “Similar to your tax advisor, your SSDI representative must be an expert on this program, which has multiple levels and requirements. It’s simply a difficult and cumbersome program to get through.” Allsup has more than 500 professionals with hundreds of years experience combined in handling Social Security disability claims, including many who previously worked for state Disability Determinations Services and Social Security offices.
4. You can hand off the work of putting together your claim. This can save your time and energy for other concerns and challenges that you need to deal with, including treating your medical condition. Allsup representatives, for example, collect medical records, complete the paperwork, submit records and documents, and regularly contact the SSA on your behalf.
“When you choose a representative, make sure you find out exactly what they’ll do for you,” said David Bueltemann, supervisor, senior claimant representatives. “You need someone who will make those calls to SSA—but that’s only the beginning.”
5. You can avoid common mistakes from inexperience with the SSDI process, including underestimating your disability or exaggerating your disability. “A representative can help you by providing objective evaluation of how your disability is affecting your life,” said Mr. Bueltemann. Sometimes pride can lead people to understate how their disability affects their lives, but the opposite also can happen. Find more on Allsup.com, in the article “Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Seeking Social Security Benefits.”
6. If you are denied, you have a specialist who has been with you all along the way and can help handle the appeal of your case. Allsup provides representation services at all four levels of the SSDI process. “One of the most discouraging aspects of SSDI is that more than two-thirds of applicants are routinely denied at the initial application level,” said Mr. Bueltemann.
But receiving a denial is not a reason to give up. Once a claimant reaches the hearing level (level three) of the SSDI process, they have a better chance of being awarded.
7. You have someone who will answer your questions and clear up the confusion. Allsup offers a customer hotline, a Web site with comprehensive SSDI information and a live-chat feature, as well as e-mail access for asking questions. Call (800) 279-4357 or send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. You are in better shape if your case must go to a hearing. “Our professional representatives help prepare claimants for their hearing and attend the hearing with them, helping to present their case to the administrative law judge,” said Mr. Bueltemann. “You can count on the fact that you will have someone by your side.” As mentioned earlier, Allsup provides representation at all levels of the SSDI process.
9. You have a better chance of avoid a hearing. Keep in mind that Allsup helps customers receive their benefits at earlier levels of the SSDI application process. In addition, when cases reach the hearing level, they may be awarded without a hearing through an “on the record” decision. At Allsup, nearly 70 percent of claimants who reach the hearing level never have to attend a hearing because judges will make a decision without the need for an oral hearing based on the information Allsup presents.
10. You are not alone. By working with a representative you have a partner who is focused and driven to help you get the benefits you deserve. “Many people just want to get help from someone they can trust to work hard on their behalf,” said Mr. Bueltemann, who has helped more than 5,000 people receive their entitled Social Security disability benefits.
“Applying for Social Security disability is a difficult process, but getting help does not have to be a difficult choice,” he said. “The most important thing is to find a representative who has the experience and the track record that shows they understand SSDI.”
To help you evaluate your representation options, Allsup offers a checklist so you make the best decision for you and your fami
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