Can You Sue the Social Security Administration?
What Is the Social Security Administration?
The social security administration (SSA) is an independent government agency that administers social security. It is an insurance program that consists of retirement, disability and survivor benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits most workers pay into the system through social security taxes.
The head offices of the social security agency are located in Woodlawn, Maryland and are referred to as the Central Office. There are tens of thousands of workers employed by the social security agency and it is the largest government program in the United States.
It is estimated that by the end of the 2022 fiscal year the agency will have paid out $1.2 trillion in benefits to 66 million citizens and legal residents of the United States. An additional $61 billion is expected in SSI benefits and $7.5 million to low-income individuals.
This government agency is a vital part of the country's economy and without it millions of already struggling Americans would have nothing. It is a program that many have paid into for decades in preparation for retirement and as an insurance policy against sudden disability.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
The most commonly problematic social security benefit to obtain is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). It is a program that is run through the Social Security Administration which is a payroll funded federal insurance program that receives its funding from Social Security tax withholdings.
The program is designed to supply monthly benefits to people who have a medically verifiable physical or mental disability. If these disabilities restrict the person's ability to be employed then the SSDI program steps in to help.
It is not a partial or temporary benefit as this program only pays full benefits. They will only authorize these benefits if the disability will last at least one year or will ultimately lead to death. This is a federal level program but the individual states do have their own more limited programs which tend to be less restrictive than SSDI.
This program is often confused with SSI, Supplemental Security Income, which is a different program that also helps those with disabilities. In the case of SSI it is for disabled adults, children and the elderly who do have an income but it is not sufficient to cover basic needs.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Those who through injury, physical illness or mental illness are unable to work may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. The amount and type of these benefits will depend on a person's work history. If they have a sufficient enough work history they may qualify for the SSDI program.
Generally speaking a person has to have been a part of the U.S. workforce for at least 10 years to qualify for this specific program. Additionally the disability question must have persisted for or is expected to persist for at least 12 months. In situations such as terminal illness applicants may qualify immediately.
Those who do not have the requisite work history will likely not get SSDI but they may qualify for a state funded temporary disability or the SSI program. The medical requirements for both SSDI and SSI are the same bit they differ in terms of work history and some other minor details.
If you have no work related income or savings you can still apply for SSDI but you would not be eligible for SSI. The reason for this is that SSI is an income determined program so your annual income must fall below or within 135% of the federal poverty limit.
How Long Does It Take to Get SSDI?
The social security disability process is not a quick one compared to unemployment benefits and many others. There are a lot of steps and adequate evidence must be supplied to prove the status of the applicant's health and that it impairs their ability to perform work.
It requires an application process, official documented proof and interviews all of which at the very least can take 3 – 5 months in a best case scenario. Often the process of receiving SSDI can take years and may include several appeals as most often at least the first application is rejected.
The Social Security Administration is very strict in its disbursement of disability benefits and it is not uncommon for people to run out of administrative appeals.
Can You Sue the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
This is the last gasp option for those seeking the benefits they feel they are eligible for and should not be done casually. You will need to seek advice from an experienced expert in disability law but if your case has merits you may attempt to bring a lawsuit to federal court against the SSA.
What to Consider Before Suing
- Having exhausted all your levels of appeal you must consider that unless you are an expert in disability law you should never try to go it alone against the SSA.
- Making an appeal at the federal level is real litigation so this comes along with all the costs and subsequent consequences of a courtroom trial. As a result all the evidence you provide must be above reproach.
- There will be a dictated timeframe after your final appeal within which you will need to file your federal lawsuit. This is generally 65 days but make sure of the rules even before you find out the result of your last appeal.
It is an extreme step but as a last ditch push to prove your eligibility for disability insurance from the social security administration you can take it to the federal courts. You will need professional legal help and be prepared for a legal battle which may or may not be successful.
Living with a disability can be extremely challenging and obtaining SSDI can be a real chore. This process sadly has been made all the more difficult by decades of false claims and fraudulent use of the system. It can be a long hard road and tough times may be faced along the way but with will and enough proof it is possible.
Reference SSA Locator
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"Can You Sue the Social Security Administration?". SSA Locator. Accessed on November 29, 2023. https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-you-sue-the-social-security-administration/.
"Can You Sue the Social Security Administration?". SSA Locator, https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-you-sue-the-social-security-administration/. Accessed 29 November, 2023
Can You Sue the Social Security Administration?. SSA Locator. Retrieved from https://ssalocator.com/blog/can-you-sue-the-social-security-administration/.