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Thousands die waiting for Social Security benefits

California residents who apply for Social Security Disability benefits may have to wait two years for a hearing. For some of the estimated 1 million American who are waiting for a hearing, that may be longer than they have left to live. According to data from the inspector general for Social Security, there were 7,400 people on the wait list last year who were actually dead.

One silver lining is that while most initial applications are denied, most who appeal will receive benefits at some point. In most cases, the person who decides the case plays the biggest role in what the outcome will be. Those who do receive benefits get $1,037 per month on average, which is generally not enough to lift a household of two people out of poverty.

While many disabled individuals may have their initial claims for disability benefits denied, it doesn't mean that they aren't entitled to benefits. In some cases, an applicant may provide incomplete information or may make other mistakes that an attorney may know how to avoid. As a general rule, those who have legal counsel may be able to get a favorable outcome in their cases as opposed to those who don't have counsel.

Legal counsel may understand how to get medical and other important information into a person's file in a timely manner. For instance, an attorney may get a note from a doctor or letters from those who know about the extent of an individual's impairment. This may make it easier to build a narrative that an individual has a disability. Ultimately, this may prove to whoever decides the case that an applicant should be granted the benefits that are being sought.

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