Social Security disability benefits provide a vital safety net for those who are unable to work due to illness or injury. However, the program is often misunderstood by the general public.
If you are contemplating filing for Social Security disability or are currently in the process of applying for benefits, it’s vital that you understand how the program operates and the common myths that can affect your ability to be approved for benefits.
Myth #1: Everyone Gets Their First Application Denied
Although it’s true that the majority of Social Security disability applications are initially denied, this isn’t an official policy designed to create unnecessary headaches. Many of the denials involve people who clearly do not qualify for benefits or who submitted incomplete applications missing the information necessary for approval.
Consulting a qualified Social Security disability attorney when you first apply for benefits will help ensure that your application is completed correctly and best describes how your condition affects your ability to continue working. Attorneys know how to avoid common application mistakes and can increase your chance of a quick approval.
Myth #2: Disability Benefits Are Welfare
Welfare programs have income requirements based on the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) that you must meet in order to be approved for assistance. Some also have other requirements such as being available only for people with minor children or having a limited timeframe where you can receive benefits.
Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits are not welfare. They are funded by the payments you made into Social Security while you were working. You are eligible once you’ve earned enough work credits, regardless of what your salary was in your previous position or what other members of your family currently earn.
Myth #3: If Your Doctor Thinks You Are Disabled, You Have Nothing to Worry About
Your doctor’s opinion is a valuable form of evidence, but how the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability is different from the definition most of us use in everyday life. The SSA requires you to have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from doing the same type of work you were doing before becoming disabled while also preventing you from finding another form of paid employment.
You can have a disability that affects your everyday activities, but you’re not considered disabled by the SSA unless your condition also prevents you from obtaining employment. For example, if you suffered from knee problems and could only walk with a cane, you might have trouble performing many daily household chores. However, if you’re a trained accountant or web programmer, your bad knee would be unlikely to prevent you from continuing in your paid employment.
Myth #4: Disability Benefits Replace Your Income
Social Security disability benefits are a form of early retirement for people who are unable to continue working due to their disability. Like Social Security retirement benefits, they do not replace your entire income. They are intended only as a safety net.
Many people who receive SSDI are able to receive other types of government benefits such as food stamps and rental assistance. However, you need to apply for each of these programs separately. Private financial assistance may also be available.
Myth #5: Disability Benefits Last Forever
Your approval for Social Security disability benefits is not indefinite. If your condition improves and you can potentially return to work, your benefits may stop. Additionally, you may no longer receive cash benefits if you are able to successfully complete a trial work period—but you’ll still retain eligibility to purchase Medicare coverage if needed.
If your condition is improving and you are interested in returning to work, the Ticket to Work program can help you understand how this might affect your benefits. Participation in Ticket to Work is free and voluntary.
Have You Or A Loved One Been Denied Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you or a loved on has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits you need to speak with an experienced SSD attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Virginia Beach office directly at 757.490.3500 to schedule your free consultation. We have offices throughout Virginia including Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk and Suffolk.