September, 2017

Obtaining Long-Term Disability Benefits

In Alaska, a debilitating injury can have far-reaching consequences. If you’re disabled by your injury, you won’t be able to work, and your day to day routine will likely change dramatically. In order to maintain a comfortable life in a situation like this, a steady and reliable source of income is essential. Long-term disability benefits can mean the difference between a steady recovery after your injury and an injury that prevents you from bringing in income for years.

Luckily for victims of a long-term disability, the Alaska long-term disability program is among the best in the country. The approval rates for benefits are much higher, and the waiting period before receiving those benefits is appreciably less than in other states. This means that the stress surrounding a long-term injury is much less serious in Alaska.

However, there are still many steps to take to ensure that you receive disability. Comprehensive medical records are a must. You must demonstrate and document your disability, the treatment that you’ve already undergone, and your previous salary so that the board reviewing your case can decide what compensation to award you while on Social Security disability. Demonstrating your need here is very important, and you must leave no stone unturned in your collection of records and documentation of your illness. This step is the end of the road for many people- 44% of disability applicants are approved at this stage in Alaska.

Furthermore, even though Alaska’s approval rate is much higher than the national average, the majority of disability applicants are still going to be left out in the cold. Of course, not every deserving person has their application approved, and many disabled people fall through the cracks in this initial stage, due to insufficient records or bad luck. If you’re one of these people, the state has an appeals process that you can go through if you feel like you were unjustly turned down. The first step in this process is a disability hearing, where you explain to a judge directly what your disability is and why it prevents you from working. The judge will then review your case and make a decision in around a month. This stage of the application process has a much lower approval rate than the initial step, with an approval rate of under 25 percent.

If you’re rejected again at the disability hearing, there are still further steps that you can take in the appeals process to secure long-term disability. You could send your case to an appeals council, or file suit in the District Court of Alaska. These steps have a much lower success rate than the previous two stages of the application process, and retaining an experienced legal team is essential to have a chance in this much more demanding environment.

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