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Better Disability Access Has Not Improved Success Rates For SSD Claims

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This groundbreaking law grew out of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, but its actual implementation did not take place until 1990. There had been earlier efforts: The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibited discrimination against recipients of federal financial assistance on the basis of disability. However, it was not comprehensive. For example, it did not help people avoid disability discrimination by employers or improve public accommodations in the private sector. The ADA corrected this when it was enacted in 1990.

The benefits to the disabled have been significant. Curb cuts in sidewalks to accommodate wheelchairs were once impossible to find. Today, they are commonplace. The law has been used to require employers, providers of public transportation and businesses to become accessible. And it basically works. Although there have been many bumps along the way, the opportunities available to disabled people have grown enormously because they now have access to the same resources as everyone else.

Why Are SSD Benefits Denied?

Unfortunately, disabled workers have not experienced the same improvement in obtaining benefits. Instead of becoming easier, obtaining financial assistance from the Social Security Disability (SSD) program has become harder.

This can be seen in statistics provided by the Social Security Administration. In 1990, 56 percent of all claims for disability benefits were approved, either at the initial stage or after an appeal. By 2012, the approval rate was at 31.4 percent. What is behind this?

The most obvious reason is the increase in the number of applications for benefits as the population ages and the economy shifts. Even though the raw number of denied applications has grown only slightly, in percentage terms it has grown a great deal because there are so many more applications against which denials are measured.

However, the number of applicants is not the only reason for the increase in the percentage of denials. Specific reasons for the growth in denied claims for disability benefits include:

  • More technical errors such as missing medical records and bad contact information that means the SSA cannot find claimants when needed for follow-up
  • More applicants failing to understand the SSD program, which requires them to show that they have disabilities that will last at least a year or more
  • Working too much, showing the SSA that the individual is capable of undertaking substantial gainful activity
  • Not following a doctor's orders

Making these and other errors when applying for disability benefits can delay approval of your claim. To avoid such errors, it's important to get help either with your initial claim or with your appeal. That's where we come in: We are the advocates at Binder & Binder®, America's most successful disability advocates. We know what the SSA needs to make determinations about Social Security Disability benefits. Call us from anywhere in the United States and territories. Tell us your story and find out how we can help.

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