The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program impacts millions of people throughout the country. In fact, more people than ever before are receiving disability benefits today, according to the latest data from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
However, despite this wide impact, many people still lack a basic understanding of how the SSDI program works and the important assistance it provides to disabled citizens and their families.
To dispel what it calls “common misconceptions” about the SSDI program and to provide “a clear picture of the individuals living with severe disabilities” that benefit from the program, the SSA launched a new education and awareness initiative on May 16.
You can learn more at The Faces and Facts of Disability website. The site features facts sheets, infographics, posters, social media materials, videos and more. Two particularly interesting interactive features are:
- An eight-question “Test Your Disability Program Knowledge” quiz; and
- A “Share Your Story” section for submitting written or video descriptions of “how Social Security benefits have made a difference in your life.”
Educating the Public about SSD Benefits is Important
According to the most recent SSA statistics, the number of people receiving disability benefits in the U.S. increased to 10,996,447 in April 2014, marking the highest number of beneficiaries in the program’s history. Out of that number:
- 8,942,232 are disabled workers
- 153,475 are spouses of disabled workers
- 1,900,740 are children of disabled workers.
Many people may look at these growing numbers and mistakenly assume that it is has become too “easy” to obtain disability benefits in our country. In fact, it is the opposite.
Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are available for only those with a medical condition that meets the SSA’s strict definition of “disability.” This means that they must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for at least one year or result in death. Furthermore, the disability must be so severe that it prevents the individual from being able to perform any work, or “substantial gainful activity.”
Even those who meet the above definition may face obstacles in their pursuit of benefits. According to SSA data, only 38 percent of those who apply for SSD or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are approved at the initial application stage. Among those seeking only SSD benefits, the success rate is around 49 percent.
As this high denial rate indicates, many disabled individuals must go through several levels of appeal, including an administrative hearing, before they can obtain the benefits they deserve.
In other words: Despite the fact that there is a record number of people receiving disability benefits these days, there is nothing “easy” about the process those individuals went through and the difficult circumstances they have endured.
It is important for the public to know this and to understand that many SSD beneficiaries have shown tremendous courage and perseverance in the process of obtaining benefits they need to survive.
Hopefully, in addition to providing important information about who is eligible for SSD benefits and the different types of benefits available, the SSA’s new education campaign will help to dispel any myths about the supposed ease of obtaining benefits.
At Geoff McDonald & Associates, P.C., we urge those seeking SSD benefits to never give up when they face obstacles and to instead seek assistance from an attorney who has experience with helping disabled workers and their families to overcome the obstacles they face.