Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Misleading Headline: Rural communities have strongest reliance on disability benefits. Maybe so, but one reason for that is, as the article states, rural access to health care is limited, and poverty "begets bad health and greater rates of disability...."

A commenter also makes the very good point that the headline is "A classic case of confusing cause with effect. People on low fixed incomes tend to seek rural areas because of low costs of housing and living in general. Living in an urban setting requires far more income for everyday expenses such as food, shelter and transportation."

There seems to be this push to believe that people are applying for -- and getting -- Social Security Disability because the economy is bad and they are out of work. Wheile there are alsways some that attempt to game the system like this, our experience as Knoxville Social Security attorneys suggests very strongly that those undeserving claimants by and large are denied benefits. Unfortunately, the deserving people also are denied.

The average person does not realize how difficult and time-consuming it is to get approved for Social Security Disability. In at least 90% of the cases we see here in East Tennessee, you're looking at the initial application being denied, reconsideration being denied, and your best chance at an approval being at an in-person hearing before an administrative law judge. If denied there, you must appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council, and then to federal district court. And of course, the reward for perseverance leading to an approval is a relatively paltry amount of monthly benefits. Believe me when I say that most, if not all of our Social Security Disability clients would much rather work and make a living than go through the mind-numbing torture of a disability or SSI claim.

I just had a case conclude, that began in 2006. The client did not get a hearing until May 2009, almost three years after filing. He was denied by the ALJ five months later, despite that ALJ having all the evidence with which to make a decision right then and there at the hearing. The Appeals Council denied him in December 2009. We filed suit in federal court and submitted our brief in support of his position in October 2010. The federal court did not rule on this case until January 5, 2012, and denied the client his disability benefits. So, five and a half years after filing, and a year and three months after filing our brief, the client got the Social Security brand of justice. DENIED.

The next time you think that it's a snap to get Social Security Disability benefits, think again.

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