Everyone filing for Social Security Disability (SSD) discovers the process is complex, involves multiple steps, and frequently requires a lawyer. However, for those about to file or already going through the stages, a few myths persist – some harmless and others that pose unnecessary complications:
1. Everyone is denied the first time.
This myth is, essentially, a stretched version of the truth. Roughly 70 percent of all first-time applicants get rejected, but some do manage to be approved. If you’re among the many rejected, move on to the second phase – the appeals process – and get a lawyer involved, instead of going back to the beginning.
2. You just need a doctor’s written note to prove a disability.
A doctor does need to provide documentation – but it’s far more extensive than a simple written note. Rather, the Social Security Administration (SSA) looks for a “medical source statement” and RFC form. Together, these must discuss your limitations, physical, and mental capacity, and be accompanied by supporting evidence.
3. Some medical conditions get automatic approval.
Although the SSA has its Impairment Listing Manual, simply having a condition specified here doesn’t mean your application gets automatically approved.
4. Children have an easier approval process.
Parents or guardians may apply for conditions ranging from ADHD and asthma to learning disabilities, but when children are involved, the process tends to be longer and more drawn out.
5. The payments aren’t large enough.
In 2013, the average SSD payment was about $1,919 per month, which amounts to $23,000 per year – a major help if you’re no longer able to work full time.
6. I can collect SSD if the disability is short term.
Although partially true, the SSA will only approve applications if the condition is expected to last longer than 12 months.
7. The system is rigged and broke – I won’t win.
Although there have been issues, these factors don’t influence how claims are processed and if they’re approved.
8. You have to be disabled for a year before applying.
If your immediate condition will limit you physically or mentally for at least a year, if not for the rest of your life, you can apply for SSD right away.
9. I can’t work and receive SSD benefits at the same time.
You can – in fact. Be aware, however, that you can’t receive SSD if your pay exceeds about $1,000 per month.