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Responding to NAMI’s Call to Educate, Empower and Engage

2017 July 6

I attended The National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI) national conference in Washington, D.C. last week. Its theme of “Educate, Empower and Engage” is significant when it comes to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The following points are based on conversations with dozens of NAMI staff, volunteers, parents, consumers and advocates who had questions about SSDI and shared their experiences.

Educate

Get help with the SSDI application process at the very beginning, starting with an eligibility assessment. Most people who apply online through SSA’s website for SSDI are denied. They don’t have enough work credits, do not submit adequate medical records, do not fill out SSA’s forms properly or do not respond to SSA’s requests for additional information.

Getting help at the initial level, starting with an eligibility assessment, will ensure you don’t needlessly invest time and emotion and add to the current disability backlog. Many websites offer tips on how to apply for disability. However, Allsup’s online tool, empower by Allsup®, is the only one that incorporates return-to-work information and is backed by more than 30 years’ SSDI experience. If an attorney or representative tells you to apply on your own and come back when you are denied, find another rep.

Empower

Be an informed consumer and take control of the process. Applying for SSDI can be confusing and stressful. empower by Allsup takes the guesswork and complexity out of the SSDI application process. In addition to letting you know your likelihood of qualifying for SSDI benefits, it provides guidance throughout the application process and helps you use SSDI benefits to go back to work, if desired and you are medically able.

It provides personalized questionnaires, audio and video guidance, and 24/7 support so you know what is happening with your disability claim. Allsup also offers no-cost healthcare insurance assistance, including help navigating Marketplace and Medicare plans, and Medicaid.

Engage

Banish the backlog. Matthew lives with post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, chronic major depressive disorder and epilepsy. One week before the NAMI conference he learned that he was approved for SSDI benefits after waiting seven years. Nationwide, 1.1 million former workers with severe disabilities wait an average 583 days for an SSDI hearing.

Allsup and other organizations are raising awareness by creating a Banish The Backlog Facebook page. If you are, or have been, stuck in the backlog or care about someone who has, you can share your experiences and suggestions by posting to the page. Liking and sharing the page is good way to engage. As an added bonus, it also educates and empowers.

See you in New Orleans.

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