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U.S. disability benefits among strictest in the world

If see Social Security Disability Insurance these days, you have probably seen stories about fraud or accusations that administrative law judges rubber stamp applications. It might be easy to get the impression that disability benefits are simply handed out to people even if they are not really disabled – but that impression is far from the truth. In fact, the U.S. has some of the strictest requirements in the world for obtaining disability benefits.

A 2010 report by an organization of more than 30 countries found that the U.S. had the strictest definition for disability. The report, by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, also found that the U.S. has the shortest duration of benefits. Social Security cited the report in a newsletter article.

Social Security, which cited the report in an article, says that strict federal law is the reason for the challenging standard for disability.  Under the Social Security Act, an applicant must have an impairment that is so severe that he or she is unable to perform any substantial work. The impairment that will last for at least a year or result in the applicant’s death. Because these standards are so strict, people who qualify for benefits are generally severely impaired.

That strict standard is why people who have severe medical conditions find it so difficult to obtain benefits while the news carries stories about disability fraud. If you have medical conditions or injuries that prevent you from working, you can qualify for benefits. Because the standard is so strict, your initial application may be denied. However, you have the right to appeal, and you also have the right to have an attorney assist you with the application and appeals process.


  • Visit the Social Security website to read the article on the strict requirements for disability. 

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In Minnesota, we handle Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claims. Throughout the nation, we handle SSDI applications and appeals for people from Ohio to Kansas, North Dakota to Texas and everywhere in between.


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