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Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm has reported before, to the residents of the Memphis metro area, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas, the anxiety producing news that the Social Security Administration is experiencing a backlog of claims processing. This is not new news – unfortunately…but what is new is that the backlog is at an all time high reflecting the same numbers that were found when the first analysis was done in 2008. Mostly since lower staff levels (the lowest in 25 years) have increased claims processing time, the Social Security Administration has over one million cases in its to-do box.

What does this backlog mean in practical terms? It means that you need an attorney to represent you submitting your disability claim, that’s what it means! Mr. Heermans, of Heermans Disability Law Firms says, “It means that having a lawyer make sure that your disability application is accurate and complete is more critical than ever. And, it means that having an attorney review your denied disability claim to assess if it can be resubmitted is now an option available to you. It also means that having an attorney help you submit your disability claim as early as your disability starts is critical…and you do not need to wait until you have met the durational requirement”. 

Let’s look at a couple of examples of what can happen if you become disabled and you are unable to work. An estimated 8,000 applicants file for bankruptcy nationwide, and 10,000 die, as they wait for a social security disability decision. And in the meantime, these individuals get no financial assistance as they wait and wait and wait. 

The number of SSD applications has continued to increase and the processing time has nearly doubled from four months to nearly 7.5 months, largely due to a lack of employees at the state level, in addition to reduced funding. The SSA lost roughly seven percent of its workforce during the pandemic, and attrition rates (the amount of employees that leave their job) at the agency are 25 percent. This combination has led to the lowest SSA staffing level in 25 years.

To address the staffing shortfall, the agency requested $800 million from Congress to handle the backlog. That request is under consideration…consideration means that it has not been approved and things continue to remain as they stand right now. 

SSDI Alternatives

Waiting months to years for claim processing is a grim option, but it’s usually the best available option. Nevertheless, it’s not the only option. Let’s explore some other alternatives that might be available to people experiencing a disability. 

Disability Insurance

More than likely, if you’re reading this post, this train has already left the station. Like the old saying goes, “fire insurance companies don’t insure people whose houses are already on fire”. Disability insurance companies don’t usually insure disabled people. Nevertheless, we’ll go over this option.

These private and group insurance plans usually have high coverage limits and low premiums. Sometimes, employers cover most or all of these costs. Additionally, disability insurance usually pays for short-term disabilities, something that SSDI will not do.

Individual Responsibility

Don’t gloss over this SSDI option. Investing in a few new life changes is often a better alternative to the long and uncertain SSDI evaluation process.

Friends and family are usually willing to loan or give money to people they know who are in need. Of course, there’s a pride element. It can be hard for people to ask for help, much less ask for money. Sometimes, if disabled individuals use this option, we will hear them say, “I reached out to a SSI lawyer near me, but the lawyer wasn’t sure if I had a good case”. 

This may or may not be a true statement, but if you are disabled and reach out to family and friends for financial help, the Heermans SSA law firm offers a FREE disability evaluation and most people with a permanent disability will qualify to apply for some sort of disability assistance either on a state or federal level. Unlike some other options, which are outlined below, the disability’s cause is completely irrelevant in SSDI cases. The disability itself is all that matters and a Heermans SSI disability lawyer in Memphis can help you apply for disability. That disability could be partial or total. Either way, SSD disability benefits would be the same.

Some disabled individuals invest in themselves. Dozens of in-demand online certificates are almost literally, just waiting for you to apply. Your local government or county job training and extension offices may have grant or subsidy money to pay for both the training fees and money for you to pay your bills while you are in training for a new vocation or certification. Many of these certifications and jobs are learn and work from home education and training. In many cases, cutting out the commute makes a big difference to a disabled person. If you don’t travel back and forth to work, you have more energy during the day and more energy after work to take care of everyday life demands such as shopping, cooking, and cleaning.

On a related note, many hardworking individuals have limited English skills. An English as a Second Language course can help you move from a labor-intensive job, like cashier or warehouse worker, to something like shift manager where having better English communication skills is important. That would mean not only less manual labor, but also a higher income.

Civil Claim

The personal injury lawsuit process is usually longer and riskier than the SSDI process. But that’s not always the case. Seeking the advice of an injury lawyer who could examine your case from this perspective, is an option. They can help you determine if an injury settlement may be available. In Tennessee and most other states, insurance companies have a legal duty to settle claims almost immediately if liability and damages are reasonably clear. 

In a nutshell, liability is legal responsibility for the injury, and damages are the amount of compensation the victim is entitled to. To break it down, let’s look at a typical car crash claim. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of disabling injuries.

If Sam rear-ended Sarah, Sam is most likely legally responsible for the wreck, unless a few narrow defenses applied. An attorney has the professional ability to determine whether or not these defenses would hold up in court.

Medical bills, along with a doctor’s assessment, usually determine the amount of economic damages. This category includes things like current and future medical bills, as well as lost wages. These victims are usually also entitled to compensation for their emotional distress and other noneconomic losses.

When the claim is a bit more complex, a mediator often steps in. These professionals know how to bring two sides together to help them resolve liability and/or damages disputes before the case goes to trial.

Some insurance companies fight even marginal claims, and others fold faster than Superman on laundry day. This is another reason why having a lawyer’s support and guidance at your side is important.

VA Disability/Workers’ Compensation

These two areas cover service-related or work-related disability claims. Once again, the VA and workers’ compensation claims processes are often longer than the SSDI process. But since some claims settle quickly, these alternatives are important.

The VA disability process closely resembles the SSDI process in many ways. Both agencies have a similar definition of “disabled,” which is basically an inability to work due, at least in post part, to a physical, mental, or other disability. VA benefits are available if that disability was military service-related. These benefits usually include monthly cash payments and free medical care at any VA facility.

However, the VA uses a rating system, from 10 percent to 100 percent. So, unlike a Social Security Disability benefits application, which is an all-or-nothing proposition, a partial service-related disability means partial benefits. Certain loopholes and exceptions apply.

The process is much faster if the veteran has a presumptive condition. Many Agent Orange and burn pit exposure-related illnesses are presumptive conditions. So, there is less emphasis on service records, buddy statements, and the need for other evidence to prove a service-related connection. If you have a medical condition and it is on the list of presumptive conditions or illnesses and you served in the specific location or area, you have won half of the battle for approval.

Similarly, workers’ compensation pays no-fault benefits if the victim sustained a partially or completely disabling work-related illness or injury. Like VA and SSDI applicants, job injury victims don’t have to prove negligence or fault.

Additionally, a few injured workers can file civil claims and obtain additional compensation. Frequently, insurance companies cannot use “silver bullet” defenses in these cases. So, these matters could settle quickly and grant substantial financial compensation when you have a lawyer to advise and represent you.

As you can see, there are multiple options for financial support and assistance that may be available for people experiencing a disability. From both direct condition-related support to self-help options. Click here, for more information about the SSD and SSDI disability process or contact the SSI disability lawyers in Memphis at Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm if you or your child (dependent) are experiencing a disability. Our lawyers are compassionate professionals that treat you with respect and care. Our team understands what it means to extend a helping hand. Call or text 24/7 at (901) 244-0057.  More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.


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