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Doctor's evaluation not always enough for SSDI

One man's struggle highlights the trouble burdening America's Social Security system. After many years of truck driving, the man thought that following a debilitating accident on the job that left him unable to work, he would be a model applicant for Social Security disability benefits.

Although the waiting period is usually six months, the man waited two years to learn that he was denied. Officials told him that he was not disabled according to the application rules. According to two doctors, however, the man was undeniably disabled.

The medical records compiled by his wife are extensive. The man was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a nerve disorder, and arachnoiditis, a painful spine condition. Neither is curable. Following his 2003 accident, the man has suffered from temporary paralysis, debilitating pain and neurological problems.

The 46-year-old former truck driver was the main breadwinner for his family, and he and his wife have watched their savings quickly dry up since the accident.

They couldn't figure out why he had been denied. When looking at the Social Security Administration website, his symptoms were listed as viable reasons to apply for SSDI. They submitted an appeal.

One organization that specializes in helping people obtain disability benefits says that it's getting harder to do. They predicted longer delays due to budget cuts and the concordant understaffing. That same organization helped the man and recorded 46 phone calls with a local Social Security office. The organization also couldn't understand why the man was being denied benefits.

Little progress was made until a local news station stepped in. A week after the news team contacted Social Security on behalf of the man, $59,000 was deposited into the couple's account. They say it was in the works, but the case had somehow gotten severely off-track.

The man will now receive $1,700 each month as well as retroactive pay going back three years.

Source: WBAL-TV, "Disability Benefits Battle Probed By I-Team," Sept. 21, 2011

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