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Report: Medical experts often disagree on disability evaluations

If you get any two people to look at identical situations, you might well get two opinions of what happened and why. It can be difficult to get the exact same descriptions of the exact same situation.

That aspect of the human condition is present even when medical experts assess workers and disability benefits claims. According to a new study, experts often come to different conclusions about workers and injuries and illnesses.

In the recent study, researchers looked at data from nearly two dozen studies from a dozen countries conducted from 1992 to last year. Studies were from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

What researchers found over and over again, regardless of geography or culture, was that disagreement is common among medical experts asked to evaluate workers who are asking for benefits because an injury or illness prevents them from working.

Dr. Regina Kunz, the senior study author, says the "problem seems to be universal." She adds that it is difficult for experts to agree on "when a health problem is 'severe enough' to qualify for disability benefits." She said that right now, there is no gold standard for determining the severity of disabilities and qualification for benefits.

She and others urge experts to develop disability standards that can be fairly, evenly applied so that those who deserve benefits get them.

As regular readers of our North Carolina law blog know, approval for a Social Security disability insurance claim can be a complex process. For those who have had an SSDI claim denied, a conversation with an attorney experienced in navigating the appeals process and paperwork can be the first step in fighting for deserved benefits.

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