Myths & Misconceptions of Social Security
Below are a list of common myths and misconceptions about Social Security Disability that many individuals are mistaken about. Click on the myth the below to find out why it is false.
Myth: Everyone gets denied the first time they apply for disability.
Myth: Everyone gets denied the first time they apply for disability
This is not true. Even though it may seem like the Social Security Administration denies everyone in the initial stage, approximately 26% of applicants are actually approved for benefits. The acceptance rate is so low because the SSA generally only approves people who have severe impairments that completely prevent them from working. To improve your chances for approval the first time make sure you collect all proper medical documentation from your doctor about your disabling condition (such as a RFC form) and consider having a disability advocate or attorney such as the Disability Care Center represent your case; Representation typically increases an individual’s chances for approval by 15 to 20%.
Myth: Before you apply for disability benefits, you had to have been disabled for a least one year
This is a false statement. The SSA’s definition of disability can be confusing and part of it states “physical or mental impairment(s) that is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.” If your condition has only lasted a few months and prevents you from working but your doctor expects that it will last more than a year, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible.
Myth: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is the same as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
This is a common misconception. People often refer to SSI or Supplemental Security Income as disability and confuse SSI for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). While it is true that you need to be disabled to qualify for SSI, it is actually a financial need-based program for those individuals who don’t have any work history in the past 10 years and are unable to work. SSDI is a disability program for workers who have paid into payroll tax reductions while working for at least 5 out of the past 10 years and is no longer able to work due to a disabling condition.
Myth: A report from your doctor stating you should apply for benefits will automatically get you approved
False. Obtaining a doctor’s statement that confirms you are disabled and should apply for disability benefits, does not by any means guarantee you’ll be approved. However, the more medical documentation you have that proves your disability significantly improves your chances for approval. You are guaranteed denial if you fail to provide the enough medical documentation.
Myth: If you were a drug addict or alcoholic, you can never receive disability benefits
This is incorrect. The SSA will still give benefits to people who used to be drug addicts and/or alcoholics but have been sober for at least one year and are (or have) been seeking therapy or treatment. If a condition arouse from drug or alcohol abuse such as alcoholic hepatitis, they still qualify for benefits given that they have been clean for at least a year. The reason the SSA upholds these restrictions is because they believe if an individual hasn’t been able to show control over their addiction in the past year, that they might relapse and spent disability benefits to feed the addiction.
Myth: You cannot receive workers compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time
False. You most certainly can receive both workers compensation and Social Security Disability benefits at the same time. However, if you are approved for Social Security Disability after receiving workers compensation or visa versa, the SSA will reduce your disability benefits using the “workers compensation offset” rule to create a counterbalance. Therefore it is possible to receive both simultaneously.
Myth: The SSA sends individuals to a consultative medical exam to provide treatment for their conditions
This is false. On most occasions, the SSA sends a claimant to a consultative exam for two reasons; Either the Disability Determination Services (DDS) believes you are not disabled but needs documentation to close (deny) your case or the DDS doesn’t have enough medical documentation to approve your case and needs more evidence to further prove your condition is disabling.
Myth: Children’s SSI claims are easier to win than adult’s cases
Incorrect. It’s actually quite the opposite. Children’s disability claims are harder to win due to the fact that most cases involve one of the four following conditions:
• Learning disability
• Seizure disorder
All of these conditions are difficult to confirm as disabling unless they prove to be severe enough. There are tough restrictions and tests set in place for each of these conditions to be approved for disability benefits. ADHD and learning disabilities require more than just a doctor’s recommendation but documentation from teachers as well. Another common issue among these conditions is that they tend to get better as the child gets older. This can be a problem when appeal hearings with administrative law judges can happen up to two years after the initial application was turned in and the child’s condition can potentially improve during that time.
Myth: You can’t be currently working and earning income while applying for disability benefits
This is another common mistake. You may still work and receive disability benefits as long as you don’t exceed the SSA’s income limitations or work more than 20 hours per week.
SSI Income Rules:
• If you are not married, you can earn no more than $741 per month in earned/unearned income.
• If you are married, you are allowed to earn no more than $2249 per month in earned income.
• If you are married, you can receive no more than $1102 per month in unearned income.
SSDI Income Rules:
Myth: The government can’t seize part of my disability check to pay for my owed child support
False. If you owe child support, the government will immediately garnish part of your disability checks to pay back the funds. This only applies to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) since it comes from payroll tax deductions and is not a needs-based program like Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Myth: I need an attorney or lawyer to win my case
Incorrect. Anyone can file an application for disability benefits and potentially be approved. However, the SSA’s statistics show that on average, around 70-75% of applicants who apply in the initial stage are denied. The SSA may deny a valid case for many reasons including missing or not enough medical documentation, application was not completed correctly, claimant is earning too much income, etc. Approximately 88% of applicants who put in a request for reconsideration are denied and roughly 65% who put in a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) are also denied.
The reason so many Americans choose to find assistance through a disability advocate or attorney is because they can increase your chance of acceptance by 20% or more. Disability advocates or attorneys help Americans file claims by gathering all necessary information and documentation to ensure the claimant receives the most benefits attainable, as fast as possible. While an attorney or lawyer is not necessary to win a case, they can significantly increase an individual’s chance of approval and win them the most benefits possible.