When applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, it is important to know what to expect from the process. This can help prepare applicants for what might be a long road.
Though it seems like everyone's SSD application is denied, this is not the case. That does not mean California residents should think they would all be accepted either -- the standards are strict for qualification and the process is rigorous.
The rejection is high, but not 100 percent -- on average, 33 percent of all initial applications are accepted. Similarly, just because the doctor says an applicant is disabled, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not accept the application.
The determination of disability depends upon legal considerations, not medical ones. Once the relevant documentation is submitted, the decision is in the hands of the SSA.
Having objective and detailed documentation in one's application increases the chances of making it through the first time though. It is also important to pace one's savings -- SSD payments do not begin immediately, even after the application has been accepted.
Processing takes anywhere between three and five months and payments begin a full six months after the effective date. The dates can be misleading and if one is not prepared, it can lead to financial distress.
Though, it may be possible to go through the process of applying for SSD benefits alone, it always helps to have an experienced professional by one's side, especially if the matter goes into an appeal before an administrative judge. Given the complexities surrounding the process and the importance of this federal safety net, it might be beneficial to consult a professional before even embarking on this possibly long journey.