Social Security Disability Revealed:

Why it's so hard to access benefits and what you can do about it

Book description:

A former Social Security Administration (SSA) disability decision writer goes behind the scenes to show you why it’s so difficult to win a Social Security Disability case. Working as an Attorney Advisor for over 10 years, the author drafted and reviewed thousands of disability decisions. During this time, he learned why the system is stacked against the claimant throughout the process. After he left SSA, he wanted to make this knowledge available to everyone.

Written in 2022, the author reveals the inner workings of the disability system, explaining how the system works – and doesn’t. Using hypothetical examples and a glossary, this book breaks down the complicated disability rules, timelines, jargon, and processes. This book is for claimants, representatives, family, friends, counselors, caregivers, social workers, case workers, advocates, and anyone who interacts with disability applicants.

After reading this book, you will better understand what claimants go through, why the Social Security regulations make it so difficult to file and win a disability case, and what you can do to improve your chances of success. The author presents the timeline of a typical case, and takes you through a disability hearing. He lays out what medical information SSA considers to be the best evidence for a variety of medical impairments, and he explains the impact of drug or alcohol use on case outcomes.

These insights will help you protect your rights, and will help you present the best possible case to the Judge. This information can prevent unpleasant surprises, delays, and disappointments. The book also includes an overview of your appeal options, and explains why having a representative improves your chances of success. The book concludes with advice on how to improve the delivery of public benefits.

Topics covered include:

  • Why most disability claims are initially denied, and why only around 50% of disability claims are eventually approved

  • How to find a disability representative (who only get paid if you win!), how a fee agreement works, what a fee petition is, and how to fire your representative

  • How the agency incentivizes Judges to deny claims, and how decision writers are instructed to write denials

  • What to do if your disability claim is denied and how to appeal to the Appeals Council or Federal Court

  • The levels of review of a disability application: initial review, reconsideration, hearing office, Appeals Council, and Federal Court

  • The difference between the two Social Security disability programs (SSI, also called Title 16, and SSDI, also called Title 2)

  • The Five Step Sequential Evaluation Process used to decide SSA disability claims

  • Why having a representative can improve an applicant’s chance of success

  • The types of medical evidence that help prove disability claims, and why doctors and physical therapists are weighted differently than chiropractors

  • Uncommon cases like disability benefits for children, benefits for a disabled adult child, disabled widow(er) claims, and SSA overpayments.

  • Termination of benefits, Unsuccessful Work Attempt, how claimants become over resourced, and Trial Work Period

  • How the current Social Security Disability system is broken and inefficient, and how to improve the social safety net for everyone with a Universal Basic Income (UBI).

Spencer Bishins is an attorney licensed to practice law in Florida and Washington State.