Despite media hype to the contrary, SSDI has solid support

The federal Social Security Disability Insurance program is just that - disability insurance. Recent press coverage of the program has been sensational and negative in tone in characterizing the increase in the numbers of SSDI enrollees during the economic downturn as a reflection of unemployed people flocking to SSDI as an alternative to work.

Allegations have also been made that the government program is rife with waste and fraud.

SSDI

In actuality, SSDI is a benefit earned by many Americans by paying into the Social Security fund through years of payroll deductions. It is a lesser known part of the Social Security program that provides monthly monetary payments to qualified beneficiaries who are disabled by their physical and mental impairments from working and not yet old enough to collect Social Security retirement benefits.

The NOSSCR poll

Despite assertions that the program as an excessive "entitlement" should be targeted for reduction in federal budget cuts, an interesting poll shows that a solid majority of Americans support SSDI as an earned safety net for those unfortunate enough to lose the ability to work because of physical or mental impairment.

According to PR Newswire, the survey was sponsored by the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, known as NOSSCR, a professional association of lawyers and non-attorneys advocates who represent claimants in their fights for SSDI before the Social Security Administration and in federal courts. NOSSCR hired Lincoln Park Strategies, a Washington, D.C., market-research firm to conduct the poll.

PR Newswire reports some of the major survey results:

  • Most likely voters (83 percent, including 75 percent of Republicans) believe those who have paid in to the program should remain entitled to full benefits.
  • Most (80 percent) support the SSDI program.
  • Most likely voters (77 percent) think SSDI should not be targeted for federal budget cuts.

While no one will get rich on SSDI, it can put food on the table, keep utilities on and help stave off foreclosure. For some people who are suffering from disabling conditions, their monthly SSDI payment that they earned by years of working and paying into the system can even be the safety net that prevents homelessness.

Qualifications

To qualify for SSDI, a worker must have worked fairly recently and long enough over time to meet the work-history requirements of the program. The claimant must be unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments expected to last 12 months or result in death.

Get a legal advocate

The application process and the laws and regulations affecting the program are complicated and unique. It is a good idea for anyone seeking SSDI to consult with an experienced SSDI attorney for representation, and to help with the application and with further reviews and appeals, if necessary. The lawyer will help to develop the medical record, assist with meeting crucial deadlines, prepare legal documents and handle appeals as required.