Claiming Social Security Disability can be a complex process, and it is only made more confusing by the enormous amount of misinformation available. Those who are too injured to work must often rely on Social Security Disability benefit money to support themselves, and it is imperative to understand the truth about the disability application process so as not to jeopardize a person’s chances of successfully applying for disability benefits. In this post, we will address some of the most commonly espoused myths associated with Social Security Disability.
Myth 1: The Social Security Administration Always Denies First-Time Disability Claims
The reason so many people believe this myth is because of the extremely high percentage of people who are, in fact, refused on their first try. At present, only 30% of applicants receive Social Security Disability benefits after their first application, causing many people to believe that benefits are automatically denied on the initial application attempt. It is due to this overwhelmingly high rate of denial that many people believe it is impossible to obtain benefits the first attempt.
It often takes several attempts for an individual to finally get Social Security Disability benefits. The reason why so many people require several applications is because they do not learn from their mistakes, and a large number of people simply file the same application again and expect to be successful. Statistically speaking, filing an appeal to the Social Security Administration has a much better chance of being successful then filing a new claim.
Myth 2: Filing a New Claim Is Better Than Making an Appeal
Filing a new Social Security Disability claim upon denial based on the same disabling condition and medical documentation is often simply a waste of time and resources because of the likelihood that the new claim will be rejected for the same reasons as the initial claim.
Generally speaking, a claimant will have a much higher chance of success if he or she utilizes the right of appeal which must take place within 60 days of the rejection. At this stage of the process, it is often highly advisable to find qualified legal representation to give yourself the best chance of winning the appeal.
Myth 3: You Will Automatically Lose Your Claim if You Drink Alcohol or Take Drugs
While it is impossible to successfully claim Social Security Disability on the basis of alcohol or drug addiction, a legitimate claim for disability benefits will not automatically be denied due to substance abuse that is not a contributing factor to the disabling medical condition for which the claim is being considered.
For example, if you claim Social Security Disability because of hepatitis or liver problems while continuing to drink alcohol, the claim would be rejected only if it can be proven that your current condition would improve if you were to stop drinking. If it is shown that the condition for which you are claiming disability would be cured or significantly improved if you stop drinking alcohol, the claim will certainly be denied.
In essence, if a claimant’s medical condition is worsened by drugs or alcohol, they will lose their Social Security Disability claim.
Myth 4: You Cannot Claim Social Security Disability Benefits if You Have Never Worked
While an applicant’s eligibility for Social Security Disability is affected by the number of work credits that that person has paid into the system over the course his or her career, there are occasions when those who have never worked can legitimately claim disability benefits. If an individual was disabled from a young age and the condition was diagnosed before he/she reached 22 years of age, for instance, then eligibility will be based on the work history of the claimant’s parents.
It is also possible to claim Social Security Disability benefits in the form of the need-based Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program also run by the Social Security Administration. If you have a disability which has prevented you from working throughout your life and your income and household assets are beneath a certain threshold, you may qualify for disability benefits under SSI.
Myth 5: The Social Security Disability Application Process Always Takes Months or Years
Although in most cases an application for Social Security Disability benefits will take many weeks or months to be decided, certain claims can be expedited under the Compassionate Allowance program. This program allows applicants suffering from one of 88 extraordinarily severe disabling conditions to have consideration of their applications fast-tracked. In some cases, it is possible to receive approval for Social Security Disability as soon as 20 days after submission of an application for benefits.
Myth 6: You Cannot Earn Money While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits
Surprisingly, this myth is false. While earning income above a certain threshold indicates that you are able enough to work and thereby ineligible to receive disability benefits, it is possible in 2024 to earn up to $1,110 per month performing whatever duties your disability allows while receiving Social Security Disability. As long as your monthly earnings fall below the level allowed by the SSA, your Social Security Disability benefits will not be affected.