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Don't delay filing your SSD claim

When you develop a disabling condition that makes it impossible for you to continue working, you may realize rather late that your salary, workers' compensation benefits, or short-term disability payments will eventually end. If you cannot work, you won't be earning a salary and many other work-related benefits will quickly end. How will you manage?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) protects most working Americans. If you qualify by having worked the requisite number of hours in the last decade, you will be eligible. But the process can be time-consuming and if you have financial obligations, such as a mortgage or other bills, you know you need a regular monthly income.

The agency, however, has been short on staff and resources, so the more complete your application for SSD benefits, the less likely your claim will be denied and you will be forced into the reconsideration or appeal process. With that process, depending on where you file, you may have to wait anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

Some SSA offices have appeal backlogs that are so lengthy that claimants lose their homes and are forced into bankruptcy because of the delays. In New Jersey, the average processing time is about 625 days.

So, what can you do to avoid this? Begin as soon as you sense your injury or medical condition is potentially work-ending and discuss the issue with a SSD attorney, as the sooner you begin your claim, the faster you can obtain your benefits. Similarly, putting together an application, complete with ample medical documentation and records that strongly support your claim can help reduce your likelihood of a denial and the need to appeal.

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