If you are like most people, you probably don’t have a lot of financial cushion if you become disabled and cannot work. Some research indicates that about half of American consumers do not have even a month’s worth of earnings tucked away. In Alabama, ranked in 2017 by GoBankingRates.com as the best in the U.S. for returns on savings, 40 percent of residents report they have no savings at all.

If you have worked long enough and earned sufficient credits, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance if you become disabled. You have to have one of the conditions specified for coverage by Social Security and you have to be able to show that you won’t be able to work for at least one year or that you are expected to die from your condition. But even if you are eligible, chances are good you will likely wait a long time before the checks begin.

Why things stall

The sad reality is that a minority of disability claims, 35 percent, win approval on first application. The reasons can vary. One common reason cited is that applications fail to include the medical records the government insists upon to prove a claimant’s disability. Obviously, that puts a great deal of responsibility on each applicant to clearly understand what documentation the Social Security Administration expects.

In the event of a denial, you have the right to appeal – a process that history has shown can take two years or more. If your appeal to an administrative law judge is denied, you can take the matter to federal court. There you can expect to wait some more.

SSA officials say they have faced a deluge of hearing requests in recent years and that a failure to increase staff to keep pace with the influx created a massive backlog that now amounts to nearly 1 million cases awaiting hearings. The average wait time for such a hearing stands at 600 days.

Economic realities being what they are, applicants who qualify for disability can’t afford to risk having to wait years for relief. Appealing a denial is important and to have confidence in its chances of ultimate approval, it’s important to consult with an attorney experienced in dealing with the Social Security Disability Insurance program.