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If you think taxes are complex…

 

Many people pay to have their income tax return prepared by a professional tax preparer. While it might be something they could do on their own, it is somewhat complex, and can be tedious, especially if you have different sources of income, deductions, capital gains and anything else that may be accounted for within the tax system.

 

And if you think your taxes can be complex, imagine what an application for Social Security Disability benefits looks like. You can review the instructions that run about 15 pages and submit it online, and you may conclude that it cannot be that difficult.

 

Judging by the approval rate of about 37 percent, perhaps it is more difficult than many people who apply believe. The basic requirements are that you have a disease or medical condition which has kept you out of work for at least 12 months or that will result in your death. Yes. That's all you have to show.

The difficulty is making that showing. The brochure from the Social Security Administration (SSA) notes that processing the application may take three to five months. And that is if everything goes well, and you are not denied approval or forced to appeal and appear at a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.

This is why you want to ensure that you make the strongest case possible in your first submission. You want every section complete, without missing medical records and you want the application to create a compelling narrative of how your medical condition makes it impossible for you to engage in what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity.

 

And this is why many applicants turn to an attorney for assistance. If you have a complex medical record, simply assembling that record with the correct documentation can be difficult, and lack of supporting medical evidence is one reason many applications are rejected.

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BARRY D. ADLER
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