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Changes in SSA policies may accelerate disability applications

While some injured workers in Ohio seek workers' compensation, there are other options. Social Security Disability benefits can be sought by such individuals, but their injuries must be serious enough to consider them disabled and unable to work. One of the major issues with SSD benefits, though, is the amount of time it takes to receive an approval on an application. A recent decision from the Social Security Administration may be cutting down on that time.

Since 2008, the program has seen a large increase in the number of applicants. Experts believe that the reason for this is at least two-fold: People who managed to work with disabilities have lost their jobs and those that have disabilities but may not qualify have nowhere else to turn, so they apply. In 2008, there were 2.6 million applications for disability benefits while there have been 3.2 million applications this year.

Each of those applicants have to go through a time-consuming process that includes proving that they have the disability and sending in piles of paperwork related to their medical history and other information. With millions of people doing this, the system has gotten jammed up. In order to alleviate this backlog, the SSA decided that it will allow applicants with certain conditions to be approved through an expedited process that takes about two weeks to complete.

More than 160 conditions were already included in what is known as the Compassionate Allowances program and 35 more will be added, bringing the total to 200. Already, more than 200,000 people have received benefits because of the expedited program. This should make the process slightly faster for other applicants as it frees up some of the hands that were tied to running paperwork on people with these conditions.

According to reports, about two out of three initial applications are not approved. Applicants can appeal the decision to an administrative law judge but appeals are taking an average of 354 days to complete.

Source: Oregonian, "Social Security disability claims will be sped up by program's expansion," Dec. 5, 2012

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