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The Social Security system can be difficult to understand—it’s no surprise that many people come to our law offices with a number of misconceptions about how they can get disability benefit payments or why their application was initially rejected. In this article, we’ll shed light on some of the most common Social Security disability benefits myths.

Myth #1: Social Security Disability Benefits Are a Government Handout.

Social Security disability benefits are not funded by general income tax revenue. Instead, the Social Security fund is created by Social Security payments that you contribute out of each paycheck. To put it another way, Social Security is not a welfare program, it is an insurance plan that you have likely been paying into for much of your adult life.

Myth #2: I Can’t Get Disability Benefits Because I Struggle With Substance Abuse.

While it is true that a drug or alcohol addiction can complicate your Social Security disability benefits case, it is absolutely false that all applicants with past substance abuse issues are rejected. As long as your addiction issue did not cause (or significantly worsen) your disability, you may still be eligible for benefits.

Myth #3: If I’m Really Disabled, Getting Benefits Will Be Easy.

Even if you have an obvious and serious disability, you still have to go through the same process as everyone else in order to receive benefits. This includes providing evidence of your disability and submitting the correct documents with your application.

Myth #4: Disability Is Only for People Who Are Disabled for Life.

When many people picture someone on Social Security disability benefits, they picture someone in a wheelchair or someone walking with a cane. In truth, you can receive disability benefits for any serious health issue that is expected to last more than a year (or be fatal).

Myth #5: Filing a New Social Security Disability Claim Is Better Than Filing an Appeal.

Many people believe that they should just start the process over after they have been denied benefits—or that everyone is denied benefits a certain number of times before getting approved. However, re-filing your application will most likely mean that you will be denied again—and for the same reason you were denied the first time. It is almost always a better choice to go ahead with the appeals process after a denial.

Myth #6: You Can’t Work While Collecting Social Security Disability Payments.

Especially in recent years, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has encouraged disabled Americans to find their way back to the workplace and start supporting themselves again. Anyone who collects Social Security disability is allowed a small income, while the SSA also offers several programs to those who wish to transition back to the workforce while still collecting benefits.

Myth #7: The Social Security Disability Benefits Application Process Always Takes Years.

The backlog of Social Security disability claims has been growing at a significant rate and the average time it takes to get approved for benefits has only gotten longer. However, not every applicant faces years of lag time between asking for and receiving support. If your medical condition is on the Compassionate Allowances list or if your initial application clearly proves you are eligible for benefits, the process could only take weeks or months.

Myth #8: Everyone Is Denied Social Security Disability Benefits the First Time They Apply.

It is true that the majority of people who apply for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied; however, about one out of three people are approved the first time they apply for support. How can you increase the chances of being in that small minority? Fill out the application thoroughly and correctly—and be certain to prove that you have a serious, long-term medical condition that prevents you from working.

If you have other questions about your initial or continued eligibility for Social Security disability, we encourage you to contact us today via this website to find out the truth about how the program applies to your situation.

Morgan & Weisbrod LLP

by Paul B. Burkhalter
Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.


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