We always warn clients that applying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits can be a time consuming and lengthy process. Disability programs, like SSDI and from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), have complex and detailed applications, because they provide long-term, permanent disability benefits for recipient, and are subject to strict controls to prevent fraud.
This is why the majority of SSDI applications are initially denied, and some applicants will need to file appeals with the Social Security Administration (SSA) or with the VA, if they are applying to that system. Each has suffered with backlogs and both are highly procedural, meaning that if you fail to fill out a form correctly or do not include necessary documents, your claim is likely to be denied.
However, we hope most of our clients do not have to endure a 40-year struggle to obtain disability benefits as one veteran did. He relates how he finally received the full disability benefit that he had been fighting for since the 1970s.
He has suffered with numerous medical problems, including strokes, skin problems and a rectal tear. He dealt with "endless appeals" and some of his problems were probably due to the constant backlog that the VA disability program has had for years.
Over the last nine years, he collected "50 personal letters and statements, 13 VA forms, 20 medical treatment records, and 13 responses and four appeals on his case." While the story does not say why the VA denied his claims, he does mention that his claim began to move forward after he contacted an attorney.
Disability claims are complex and the services of an attorney can be a great help, as they understand the proper procedures and protocols to ensure your claim receives a fair hearing.
Source: Stars and Stripes, "After 40 year-fight with VA, Ga. veteran finally got disability," Wesley Brown, The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle, May 31, 2014