Social Security Disability Appeals Remain High In 2012, Allsup Reports

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Allsup outlines top 10 mistakes people can make when appealing their disability claims.

“With a disability appeal, it’s critical to consider the options you have for working with an SSDI advocate like Allsup.”

Nearly 850,000 people filed a disability appeal to the hearing level of the Social Security disability program in fiscal year 2012, according to Allsup, a nationwide provider of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) representation

“Most SSDI claims are denied with the application, which leads many people to ask, ‘Should I file a disability appeal?’ ” explained David Bueltemann, Allsup manager of senior claimant representatives. “With a disability appeal, it’s critical to consider the options you have for working with an SSDI advocate like Allsup.”

The Social Security Administration (SSA) reported receiving 849,869 requests for hearings in FY 2012, which is a slight decrease from 859,514 hearing requests the previous year. Most claims are denied at the initial application, and individuals must file a disability appeal to reach the hearing.

SSDI is a federally mandated insurance program operated separately from Medicare, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Workers must have paid FICA payroll taxes to be eligible for SSDI benefits. To qualify, someone must have experienced a severe disability that will prevent work for 12 months or longer and have a documented work history. Typically, claimants must have worked five out of the last 10 years. Visit for more about qualifying for disability insurance benefits.

Filing A Disability Appeal? Ten Common Mistakes
Following are common mistakes for those considering a disability appeal.

1. Disability applicants give up. Most people are denied benefits with the application, and the program has several more levels of claims review. “It can be discouraging, but you have the right to seek SSDI benefits if you truly cannot work any longer because of a severe disability,” Bueltemann said.

2. Applicants miss the disability appeal deadline. Claimants have 60 days to file the disability appeal after the initial denial. If they miss the deadline, they must start at the beginning with a new claim. “This carries risks,” Bueltemann explained. “For instance, now the date of your application—which SSA uses in part to calculate your Social Security benefits—is going to be different.”

3. Applicants continue to make the same mistakes with their disability appeal paperwork. For example, the initial application may not have provided enough information to the Social Security examiner. Or, the original SSDI claim contained errors and the applicant does not fix those with the disability appeal.

4. Applicants waste time fighting the initial decision. All the information provided in the original application becomes part of the permanent record. “Even if nobody caught an error in the information, that initial decision stands,” Bueltemann said. “Filing the disability appeal is your next opportunity to better explain your claim.”

5. Applicants don’t stay in contact with Social Security. While appealing, individuals should continue to provide information on visits to doctors and hospitals, and medical tests, such as CT scans and MRIs. This may require phone calls, faxes and letters, which can be time consuming. Hiring an SSDI representative can help ease the burden of this process, Bueltemann said.

6. Applicants don’t keep copies of their records. It’s important to keep a record of the materials in your claim, including original applications, medical documentation and work history, especially if you plan to get help from an SSDI representative.

7. Applicants underestimate or exaggerate their disabilities. Many people make mistakes with their claims because they present inaccurate information, either overstating or understating the disability. An SSDI representative can provide the expertise to clearly document the disability and its impact on the person’s life.

8. Applicants wait until it’s too late to get help. Sometimes people plan to attend the hearing alone, but once they start to receive the information provided by the SSA—they decide they need a representative. “You can wait too long to get help from a representative, where there simply is not enough time to properly prepare to take your claim before the administrative law judge,” Bueltemann said. “Don’t wait. About 80 percent of claimants have a representative with them at their hearing.”

9. Applicants don’t know they can get representation at any level, including the application. “The SSA may or may not tell you that you could get help from a representative,” Bueltemann said. “Many claimants with clear documentation, good medical evidence and their doctor’s agreement can receive their SSDI benefits with a representative without needing a disability appeal.”

10. Applicants don’t weigh the costs of doing it alone. Consider carefully the option of choosing an SSDI representative. Most work on contingency, meaning they don’t receive a fee unless they help the claimant to receive Social Security benefits. Receiving benefits more quickly with a representative also may help to reduce the fee.

Individuals thinking about filing a disability appeal may contact the Allsup Disability Evaluation Center at (800) 678-3276 for a free SSDI evaluation.

Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. Visit or connect with Allsup at

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