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Michigan claimants struggle to obtain SSDI benefits

Michigan workers who are injured or become ill while on the job are able to use workers' compensation for medical and financial assistance. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which is administered by the Social Security Administration, is designed to help those who become ill or disabled and are no longer able to work or unable to work for a long period of time. Yet, most disabled workers will not qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.

According to the SSA's most recent statistics for the 2016 fiscal year, nearly 10.5 million Americans received SSD benefits. This figure amounts to only about one-third of all disabled workers seeking SSDI benefits, which in 2016, averaged about $1,170 per month. What is more egregious is that disabled workers are waiting an average of three to four months after their initial claim to learn whether they qualify for benefits.

Nationwide, SSDI claimants who are denied benefits on the initial application wait an average of 600 days to receive an appeal hearing. In recent years, thousands of claimants died while waiting for an SSDI benefits determination. Much of these struggles can be attributed to the personnel and budget woes faced by SSA, which is the largest government agency.

Since 2010, SSA has lost more than 3,500 field workers who were not replaced due to budget constraints. Matters are only expected to worsen, with another 1,000 possible field personnel losing their jobs by the end of the 2019 fiscal year if WhiteHouse budget recommendations are adopted. One of the few options available to an SSDI claimant to improve their odds, according to the Government Accountability Office, is to appear with a representative, such as an attorney.

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