As we have previously written, few Americans take the time to research a subject like Social Security disability unless they feel they might need to avail themselves of it. Therefore, chances are good that at least part of what you know about Social Security disability was learned from an anecdote told by someone close to you.
Whether that person had a positive experience applying for benefits or a nightmarish one will likely influence how you feel about your own chances of being approved. It should be stressed, however, that each case and each applicant are different. And an individual’s likelihood of approval is largely based on two factors: the specific medical details of their case and whether they have the help of an experienced attorney.
Even news reports about Social Security disability sometimes rely on personal accounts from those who have been through the process. A recent news article tells the story of a Vietnam veteran who seemingly should have been approved for disability benefits but died waiting for an appeal.
According to the man’s wife, he served for about two decades in the military, including two tours in Vietnam. Like many Vietnam vets, he developed medical problems related to his exposure to Agent Orange. In his particular case, the exposure caused pancreatic cancer.
He also suffered from problems with his shoulders, back and arms. In 2000, the Department of Veterans Affairs determined that he was 100 percent disabled and qualified for VA disability benefits. Sadly, however, he reportedly spent eight years trying to get approved for Social Security disability but died while his case was being appealed.
Stories like this are heartbreaking, and there are certainly individuals who experience significant problems and delays when applying for benefits. But there are also individuals who are able to be approved somewhat quickly and without much wasted time and effort.
The takeaway message is simple but important: Whether you have heard a horror story or a tale of success, you won’t know your own chances for approval until you apply. An experienced Social Security disability attorney can help you through the process and will work hard to make sure that you present the strongest possible case.
Source: KVUE, “Judge: Changes to disability will impact fair rulings,” Andy Pierrotti, Feb. 20, 2014