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SSDI appeals necessary more often

In Ohio, when you apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits, your application first goes to the initial level of scrutiny. If your application is denied, you can then appeal to the Social Security Administration's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.

There, at an SSDI hearing, an administrative law judge will then review your application, the medical records and other supporting documents. This is often a complex analysis, and the decision is rarely clear-cut. Administrative law judges are supposed to make their determination of SSDI benefits based on the facts presented with the application.

Listening to much of the media discussion of concerning benefit programs like SSDI, you could easily believe that these judges willy-nilly approve benefits for practically everyone who applies, merely because the program has experienced growth over the last few decades.

A news story from Pennsylvania finds that across that state, approvals of SSDI benefits have actually declined, from an approval rate in fiscal 2010 of 64 percent at one office to a 47 percent this year, while the overall approval rate throughout the state declined to 42 percent.

Moreover, this decline has occurred nationwide.

The story describes one case involving a man with degenerative neurological impairment, Huntington's disease, who had to resort to federal court to obtain his benefits. One district in Pennsylvania saw a 74 percent increase from 2012 in SSDI appeals going to federal court.

For applicants in Ohio, this case is troubling because it suggests that even the disabled with genuine, life threatening impairments, may have problems obtaining the SSDI benefits they need.

While not every case will need to go to federal court, the better prepared your application is, and the more complete your medical documentation is, the better chance you have of receiving an approval. 

Source: thetimes-tribune.com, "Social Security disability approvals decline," Terrie Morgan-Besecker, December 1, 2013

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