Social Security Disability Myths

New York Social Security Disability Attorney

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program in the U.S., which was designed to offer financial support to disabled workers, is complex and can be difficult to navigate. Like so many other government programs, it is easily misunderstood and various myths are in circulation about what benefits are available, how to file a claim and what determines a worker's eligibility to receive benefits. Our goal is to dispel some of these myths and misconceptions. We have included some of the most common Social Security Disability myths below. You can review these and are also always welcome to call our New York City headquarters to set up a free, confidential consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer.

Myth: If my SSDI application was denied, that means I'm not disabled and I cannot receive benefits. The truth of the matter is that the majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied the first time around (nearly two out of three were denied in 2011). This denial does not necessarily mean that the applicant is not entitled to benefits. Many applications are denied for simple reasons, such as an improperly filed claim, missing information or insufficient supporting documentation (all non-medical reasons), and these errors can be fixed. Even if an application is denied for medical reasons, there are ways for an applicant to appeal the denial and seek benefits. If your SSDI application was denied, our attorneys may be able to help.

Myth: If I have a certain type of disease, I will be automatically eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Having a medical condition that is included in the List of Impairments (a list of health disorders that are considered disabling conditions by the Social Security Administration) does not automatically qualify a person to receive benefits. The applicant must meet certain work requirements and must also provide evidence of his or her condition. The SSDI claim process must be followed to the letter.

Myth: Social Security Disability benefits are only awarded to older workers. When Social Security laws were first implemented decades ago, it is true that benefits were only available for older workers, usually those who had reached retirement age. Today, however, workers of virtually any age may be eligible for benefits. A New York Social Security Disability attorney at our firm can explain the requirements to you in relation to your age.

Myth: I cannot work if I apply for disability benefits. You may work and apply for or receive Social Security benefits, but there are strict limitations on the amount of money you can make. If you are already receiving benefits, make sure you find out exactly what restrictions apply before you seek employment. Exceeding the income threshold may threaten your right to receive disability benefits.

Myth: I should wait until my medical condition gets really bad before I apply for benefits. Waiting too long to apply for benefits can actually reduce the amount of money you are able to receive for the time that you have been disabled. Applicants can seek retroactive pay dating back 12 months prior to the date that they file their SSDI applications. If more than 12 months have passed since the date that they became disabled, they may lose the right to receive benefits for any time over 12 months.

Myth: I cannot apply for benefits if I may recover from my condition someday. Social Security Disability benefits are available to workers who are disabled and are expected to remain so for at least 12 months. If you recover after 12 months, 24 months or even 60 months, you may be entitled to benefits for the entire time that you were disabled. Your condition does not have to be permanent – it must be expected to last at least 12 months.

Myth: I cannot apply for SSDI benefits until I've been disabled and out of work for a year. If you have been disabled, you do not have to wait a year to apply for disability benefits. The requirement is that your disability must be expected to last at least 12 months. Once you are no longer working full time because of a mental or physical disability, you should consider applying for benefits. The sooner you file your application, the sooner you will be able to receive benefits.

Myth: I really am disabled, so I shouldn't need an attorney to help me get benefits. No matter how serious your medical condition may be or what your doctor has told you, you must follow the necessary steps to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. The fact that you are disabled does not necessarily mean that your application will be approved right away. You must still provide the appropriate information, medical records, supporting documentation and all other paperwork to the Social Security Administration. Even then, there is the potential that your claim may be denied. You are not required to hire an attorney, but having a legal professional file your claim on your behalf and handle any issues or questions that may arise can help you get the benefits you deserve.

Myth: All Social Security Disability claims are denied the first time around. Though it may seem that every disability application is denied, this is not the case. In 2011, the Social Security Administration approved just over one-third of the 2.9 million SSDI applications it received. The majority were denied the first time around, but if this happens to you, there are specific steps you can take to appeal the denial.

Interested in learning more? Contact a New York Social Security Disability lawyer at our firm.