When you need to file for Social Security Disability, many of your family and friends will want to help. They might offer advice and recount the experiences of people they know. Unfortunately, information from well-meaning loved ones is often heard through the grapevine. In some cases, what they tell you has a grain of truth. In others, the “facts” are anything but.
Today, we’re taking a look at some of the most common Social Security Disability myths. You can trust that we’ll tell you what’s true and what “advice” you should ignore.
Myth #1: Social Security denies everyone the first time they apply.
Many Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claimants get denied the first time they apply: about 70 percent. To be sure, this is a high number! However, that is not because the Social Security Administration (SSA) has any sort of regulation or process guaranteeing denial for first-time applications. It is more likely because applying for SSDI is a complicated process (made more difficult if you try to go it alone).
The best way to improve your chances of being approved the first time is to collect as much evidence as possible for your disability and understand what your claim needs to include to be successful. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can help you with this.
Myth #2: A statement from your doctor will guarantee SSDI approval.
While your doctor may already be convinced that you are disabled and unable to work for the time being, that doesn’t mean that the Social Security Administration is also convinced.
There are many factors that go into the SSA’s decision. A letter from your physician will help your case if he or she includes the following: an opinion of what your physical or mental limitations are and an explanation of why objective medical evidence supports your doctor’s opinion. A simple statement that the doctor believes you to be disabled is not enough.
Furthermore, while there are certain conditions so serious that a diagnosis by your doctor automatically qualifies you for disability (like acute leukemia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, pancreatic cancer, etc.), there are still financial and legal requirements that must be met. For example, you must have worked a certain number of years and must not be currently doing substantial work.
Myth #3: Social Security disability benefits will replace all your income.
SSDI benefits are a safety net. This means, unfortunately, that you cannot expect SSDI benefits to replace 100 percent of your previous income. On average, SSDI beneficiaries receive between $700 and $1,700 per month (though your case will vary).
Still, you have options. You may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income, a federal program that serves those with limited income and resources. (Here, it’s important to note that if the amount you receive from SSI is based on your income—so the more benefits available to you under SSDI, the less you may receive in SSI.) You may also be able to return to work for a limited time, if you are able, without jeopardizing your SSDI benefits.
Myth #4: You have to be on Social Security Disability for life.
Many injured workers who consider applying for Social Security Disability think that, once they receive SSDI benefits, they’re in the program for life.
This isn’t the case: your benefits will only continue for as long as you are disabled. The SSA will periodically review your medical condition for improvement. The frequency of reviews depends on whether or not improvement is expected, possible, or not expected. Even if your case is not expected to improve, a review may still take place every three to seven years.
If you would like to try to return to work but worry that you will lose your benefits, you have a few options. The SSA has what are called “work incentives” as well as a Ticket to Work program that allows benefits to continue while you test your ability to work. You may be able to keep your cash benefits, continue Medicare or Medicaid eligibility, and receive education or vocational training. If you become disabled again within several years, you may receive special treatment—allowing you to go back to receiving your benefits without having to go through the claims process a second time.
Myth #5: It will take forever to see any benefits.
The claims process for Social Security Disability can take some time. It may take as long as a year for your case to be reviewed the Social Security Administration.
The good news, however, is that there are several exceptions to this. If you are suffering from a condition included in the SSA’s “Compassionate Allowance” list, you will get special treatment. (This list outlines extremely serious conditions automatically qualifying someone for disability.) In addition, your claim may be expedited if your case is terminal or if you are losing your home to eviction or foreclosure. Finally, you should know that you may receive what’s known as “back pay,” benefits that cover the time you waited to be approved.
Social Security Disability Insurance is a complex system, and we’re sure you have a lot of questions. The Social Security Disability attorneys at Casper & Casper are here to answer them.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We have offices conveniently located in Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, and Middletown.