Retirement is an unavoidable circumstance in every employee’s life, granting that it is not abruptly ended by any injury or illness, which can render an employee disabled either for a short or long period. It is because of disability why many employees become subjected to financial difficulties, since it will cause them to miss work for days or weeks (for short-term disability) to months or years (for term-term or permanent disability), resulting to lost wages and costly medical treatment. Thus, without the capability to earn, the means to sustain their families and themselves are greatly affected.
In 1935, to keep employees from financial difficulties, the Social Security Act was signed into law. It was first intended as a solution to poverty to which senior citizens were subjected to during the Great Depression of 1930. Since its implementation, improvements and changes have been made to include in its scope financial assistance upon retirement and benefits in the event of long-term injury or illness that is expected to keep a person unemployed for at least one year.
Applicants, whose claims have been denied or who are awarded benefits below the amount they expect, are allowed by Social Security to make an appeal within 60 days after the decision has been issued to them. The appeal process has four levels:
- Reconsideration – a complete review of the claim filed; this is actually done by a new set of evaluators to make sure that there is no bias in the decision making;
- Hearing – in the event that the claimant is still not satisfied with the new decision, presentation of new proofs and/or testimony of new witnesses (to substantiate your rights for your claim) may be made before an Administrative law judge;
- Review by Appeals Council – if the outcome of the hearing still fails to satisfy the claimant, Social Security allows him/her to raise his/her concern to this council which will review the last decision arrived at. Consideration of the claimant’s new appeal will require the Administrative law judge to further review the claim; if the council finds the judge’s decision justifiable, though, then it can reject the claimant’s new appeal;
- Review by a Federal court – this fourth level may be resorted to if the council’s decision is a rejection of the claimant’s appeal. It is part of Social Security’s responsibility to instruct the claimant on how to elevate his/her concern to the federal court.
According to a Social Security application lawyer, the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a number of different programs that allow them to get the financial assistance they need to make ends meet. However, the reality is that actually applying for and receiving these benefits can be a significant challenge for many of those who most seriously need this help. Fortunately, with the help of qualified legal counsel, those who need the assistance of Social Security disability benefits can dramatically increase the likelihood of receiving these benefits as quickly as possible.