If you’re just at the beginning of the process of filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in Louisiana, or if you’ve not taken the first step yet but want to learn what you should expect, you’ve come to the right place. Before we go any further, please note that SSDI and SSI are two very different programs. Social Security Disability Insurance is a payroll tax-funded federal insurance program of the United States government that’s “managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed because of a notable disability.”
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues and is designed to help blind, aged, and disabled people with little or no income by providing cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Obtaining SSDI benefits is a notoriously complex, lengthy, and frustrating process. Very few people are able to acquire SSDI funds without the assistance of an SSDI attorney like J. Ransdell Keene in Shreveport, Louisiana.
There are a number of criteria that must be met before the process of SSDI benefits even begins:
- Your condition must have lasted a year or your condition must be expected to last at least a year (or your condition must be expected to result in death)
- You must be unable to perform your job duties and unable to adjust to other work
- You must have an SSDI qualifying physical or mental health impairment (there are many impairments listed)
- You must have worked long enough to have paid into the system
The process of filing for SSDI benefits is much more complicated than simply getting diagnosed, filling out some paperwork, and waiting for your check to arrive. The SSDI paperwork is very involved, and many very intelligent people find the paperwork mind-numbingly confusing. For this reason, approximately 67% of initial SSDI claims are flatly denied. Think about that. Almost 7 in ten people who apply for SSDI are denied the first time around, which means they have to file again or they must enter an appeal.
After a hearing, the rate of denials is much lower at 35%; 20% of claims are dismissed following a hearing. With an experienced Louisiana SSDI attorney on your side, you need not worry about these alarming statistics.
After you file your SSDI application, the waiting game begins. Although disability applications are filed at the Social Security office, they are not evaluated there. Instead, the SSDI applications go to state disability agencies, usually called Disability Determination Services (DDS). At these agencies, claims are assigned to disability specialists known as disability claims examiners, the people who make the initial decision on the SSDI applications.
While the disability examiner is working on your claim, many different things may take place:
- Letters will be sent to the claimant’s (the person who applied) medical providers to get medical records (doctors, hospitals, clinics, nurse practitioners, etc.)
- The examiner will take steps to contact the claimant, the claimant’s friends or relatives in an effort to gather information about the claimant’s impairment
- DDS will confer with medical specialists (physicians, psychiatrists, and psychologists) employed by Disability Determination Services; this step is required in most states, but not in all
- The claimant will undergo a medical examination paid for by DDS if there is not enough information in the claimant’s medical records.
Gathering medical records often takes a long time. When all the information is gathered, a decision will be made shortly thereafter.