Every person in the United States who is unable to work due to a disabling condition has the right to file for Social Security disability. However, the simple act of filing does not mean that the individual will be approved for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Indeed, in recent years, it seems that fewer Pennsylvania residents are getting approved for this form of government financial assistance.
Data shows that in 2010, Social Security approved 64 percent of disability benefits claims filed through the SSA's Office of Disability Adjudication and Review located in Wilkes-Barre. However, in 2011, this figure fell to 54 percent. In 2012 it fell to 48 percent. In 2013, it has continued to fall down to 47 percent.
It appears that the administrative law judges charged with making decisions on Social Security disability benefits cases are becoming more selective. Data suggests that this is causing more claimants to pursue legal strategies in order to get the benefits they so desperately need. One of those strategies involves filing a federal lawsuit to demand benefits in court.
In the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the increasing number of denials has spurred an increase in federal court appeal filings. For example, as of the end of November, Pennsylvanians had filed 204 appeals. However, that number was 117 in 2012. In 2011, it was just 90.
Social Security officials claim that the increase in denials relates to an increase in the number of filings. According to the Social Security Administration, individuals who have questionable levels of disability are more inclined to file for benefits during poor economic conditions. Still, while some attorneys recognized the influence the economy has, attorneys are still concerned that the system is making it increasingly difficult for claimants to receive much-needed benefits.
Pennsylvania residents who are finding it challenging to get approved for Social Security disability benefits can pursue various legal strategies to make it happen. Getting one's paperwork ready beforehand is also helpful for those who wish to make the cut and gain approval. That said, there are times when the only way to get the approval needed is to file a federal appeal.
Source: thetimes-tribune.com, Social Security disability approvals decline, Terrie Morgan, Nov. 30, 2013