Setting Straight Social Security Disability Benefit Myths

Social Security myths tend to spread rapidly, as concerned elderly and disabled persons who can no longer work are relying on benefits as a large, and sometimes only, source of income. In the interest of calming some common worries, this article will highlight some misconceptions regarding Social Security benefits.

Social Security Is Just a Retirement Program for Workers

Not true. Social Security has actually expanded to include low-income earners, disabled individuals and survivors through Social Security Disability (SSD) payments and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Congress added disability benefits in 1956 and SSI benefits in 1974. With the addition of SSI, you do not need to have worked in order to receive benefits; rather, you simply must meet the qualifying requirements. SSI is given to children, disabled adults and those over age 65 who have limited resources.

Social Security Is Going Bankrupt Soon

As part of the recent deficit discussions, you may have heard that Social Security is running out of money. As it is currently structured, the SSA estimates that Social Security has enough funds to pay full benefits at least until 2041. At that point, if everything stays the same, Social Security would pay 75 percent of benefits. While the focus on the problem is understandable and important, it should not prevent you from applying for benefits or thinking your benefits will immediately be reduced.

It Takes Years to Apply, and Everyone Gets Denied the First Time

It can be difficult to present your case to the SSA, and often first-time applicants make mistakes. This is why, according to the SSA, over 70 percent of first-time applicants are rejected. But the SSA may very well accept your first claim if you are disabled and properly fill out your claim for benefits.

It is true that some applications can take months or even over a year to determine. However, through compassionate allowances and other programs, severely disabled individuals can sometimes start receiving benefits in as early as a month.

An Attorney Can't Help Me or Won't Take My Case

Many people think that they can fill out the application on their own or conduct their own appeals hearing. You may think an attorney has no interest in your case. However, an experienced attorney will be able to avoid common mistakes and clearly state to the SSA why you need SSD or SSI benefits. Many attorneys only focus on SSD and SSI claims and appeals, so consult an SSD attorney in your area for a discussion of your case.