Many people have misconceptions about disability benefits. The system can feel confusing and cryptic at times. And understandably so, as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be very complex. Falling for spooky SSDI myths can have a chilling effect on your ability to receive benefit payments. Don’t be led astray by SSDI misbeliefs. Debunk these spooky SSDI myths and improve your chances of approval.
Myth: Heartwarming Stories Lead to Faster Approval
Some SSDI applicants may believe that appealing to emotion is the best strategy. They may try to play up a sob story to get the Social Security Administration (SSA) on their side. This is incorrect. The SSA does not give any weight to emotional pleas. Rather, the SSA evaluates disability claims based on evidence. You need to meet certain medical and non-medical requirements to qualify for SSDI. A heartfelt backstory will not sway them.
Myth: All You Need Is a Doctor’s Diagnosis to Qualify
Your medical condition must prevent you from being able to work to qualify for benefits. Some people may think that if their doctor says they’re disabled, that’s all they need. They believe an official diagnosis is an automatic pathway to SSDI. This is not true. You must prove you are disabled, and a simple diagnosis is not enough.
Your doctor does not decide if you qualify for benefits. The disability examiner at the SSA does. The examiner will review the medical documents you submit to make this decision. They compare your lab results and other proof against the Blue Book listing for your condition. A lack of medical evidence is a common reason for a claim denial.
Myth: You Need to Be Disabled for At Least a Year
The wording that the SSA uses to define disability may sound misleading at first. It states that you must have an impairment “that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.” People think they must already be disabled and out of work for a year before they can apply. This is wrong.
The “expected to last” portion is crucial here. If you’ve been diagnosed with a qualifying condition, you may qualify for benefits. The medical evidence must show that the condition is expected to last more than a year. If you’ve already stopped working, you may already be able to apply.
Myth: Getting SSDI Means You Can Never Work Again
One of the main criteria for receiving SSDI is an inability to work. As a result, it’s a common SSDI myth that returning to work means you will stop receiving benefits. This isn’t necessarily true either. In fact, the Social Security Administration offers incentives to help people get back into the workforce.
You can continue to earn a modest income while receiving SSDI benefits. This may apply as long as you do not exceed substantial gainful activity (SGA) limits. You must also work less than 20 hours per week. For 2023, the SGA threshold for most individuals is $1,470 per month. The SSA also offers trial work periods where someone can try working and still collect benefits.
Myth: Ticket to Work Will Trigger a Medical Review
One of the programs the SSA offers is Ticket to Work. The goal of the program is to transition people back to stable employment. The program offers employment services and other support to help people achieve their work-related goals. This may include education, training, and job placement.
Some people may be hesitant to use Ticket to Work. They fear this will trigger a medical review by Social Security. If they are found to no longer be disabled, they may lose their benefits. This is a myth. The SSA conducts a medical Continuing Disability Review, or medical CDR, periodically. But this is separate from the Ticket to Work program.
Myth: SSDI Is a Needs-Based Program
The benefit payments you receive from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are not meant to entirely replace full-time work income. They serve as a financial safety net. Your personal finances do not play a role in qualifying for SSDI. Rather, they are based solely on your medical condition and work history.
People often confuse SSDI with Supplemental Security Income. SSI is similar to SSDI in that it provides benefit payments to people who are disabled. It is different in that SSI is needs-based, whereas SSDI is not.
Myth: Only Bedridden People Receive Disability Benefits
One of the spooky SSDI myths you may have heard is that SSDI only applies to extreme cases. Some people may believe that you need to be completely bedridden to get SSDI. They may also believe that only permanent medical conditions are eligible. Neither of these is true.
Social Security disability benefits are available for a wide range of impairments. The key here is that they significantly limit your ability to do daily activities. Namely, they prevent you from being able to work. You may still be able to do some things, but not enough to be able to work. Similarly, temporary conditions may limit your work capacity for a time. You may qualify for SSDI for that time until you are able to work again.
Myth: Consultative Medical Exams Force Treatment on Applicants
The SSA may send you to a consultative medical exam as part of its claims review process. People might think this is a nefarious attempt to treat their condition. They may think that SSA doctors will force certain treatments on patients. It’s possible they believe this as certain treatments may temporarily reduce symptoms. Thus, the Disability Determination Services (DDS) will have grounds to deny your claim.
This is also untrue. The SSA and DDS are seeking more evidence to make their final decision. They may believe you are not disabled and want an independent exam to support the denial. Or, they may believe you are disabled but need more evidence to approve your case. The exam itself is not about treatment.
Myth: Every SSDI Application Is Denied the First Time
It’s true that the SSA has a high rate of denying SSDI claims. But, it does not automatically deny every claim the first time it is submitted. Rather, by some estimates, the SSA denies around 70 percent of applications initially. Insufficient medical evidence is one of the most common reasons for denial. Mistakes in the application are another common reason.
Many people submit their SSDI claim without first consulting with a skilled disability attorney. Hiring a lawyer to review your application and offer suggestions can greatly improve the chances the SSA will approve your claim. Experienced Social Security disability lawyers can help you avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary denials.
Myth: Reapplying Is Better Than Appealing a Denial
False. The SSA does not deny SSDI claims for no reason. If your disability application was denied the first time, chances are that the SSA will deny it again if you re-apply without making any changes. It can be better to appeal your claim with the SSA than to start fresh with a new application. Your case will go before an administrative law judge (ALJ) who can review your file through fresh eyes.
Separate Fact from Fiction With an SSDI Lawyer
Completing your application with a skilled SSDI attorney can help you separate fact from fiction. The experienced team at Keefe Disability Law has worked with countless clients over the years. We can advise you on options you may not know about, like the Compassionate Allowances program. This can help you get your benefits approved sooner.
Don’t rely on rumor and hearsay. Tap into the qualified knowledge of a seasoned SSDI lawyer. We can walk you through the entire process, bolstering your application and giving you the best chance of approval. Let us provide you with proven, sound advice and present the facts in understandable terms.