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Who exactly qualifies for Social Security Disability?

The Social Security disability insurance program has recently been the subject of a lot of media attention and scrutiny. Many critics have broadly characterized recent increases in enrollment as unnecessary and wasteful spending. The reality, however, is that thousands of Pittsburgh residents are living with disabilities that make working very difficult. This is why they have sought the basic financial security afforded by SSDI benefits.

According to the most recent census data, nearly 10 percent of Americans have a severe illness, injury or mental condition that can be considered a disability. Of those individuals, far fewer than half currently receive SSD benefits, which is largely because the application process for benefits is quite rigorous.

Perhaps one of the most significant misconceptions about the SSD program is that the standards to qualify for benefits are relatively loose. Anyone in Pennsylvania who has submitted a claim for benefits knows this isn't accurate. In fact, the Social Security Administration maintains very strict standards for what qualifies as a disability. This is why over half of claims are initially denied.

Knowing that real needs for disability benefits exist, such as terminal illness or life-changing physical injuries, it's important for potential applicants to understand their options and how to pursue them, which is advice that can be provided by an experienced attorney. By having all the proper documentation in order, an application could be met with success.

A number of observers point to a national demographic shift to explain the uptick in SSD beneficiaries over the last several years. In addition to a number of baby boomers hitting the age at which they are most susceptible to disability, more and more women in the workforce are entering the stage of life. Simply put, greater numbers of women in the workforce means that more people are eligible for SSDI.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Facts About the Social Security Disability Programs," Donna Meltzer, April 4, 2013

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