If you’re applying for Social Security Disability (SSDI) there’s a lot of information out there; some of it is correct and will help you, but some of it is simply wrong. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 common myths and what you should know about them.
1) Myth: There’s no point in applying — everyone’s denied anyway
Fact: While it’s true that getting benefits can be extremely difficult, it’s by no means impossible. Yes, around 70% of applicants are initially denied benefits — but most of those are people who simply don’t qualify. So, yes, it’s difficult, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. If you are disabled and unable to work, then there’s a good chance you will be approved.
2) Myth: Hiring a lawyer is unnecessary
Fact: While you can win an SSDI case without a lawyer, your chances of winning increase with legal representation This is because attorneys know what the SSA is looking for, and they have experience in making sure your medical records are accurate, thorough and comprehensive — which is the cornerstone of any SSDI case.
3) Myth: Hiring a lawyer is expensive
Fact: Lawyers might be expensive for other types of cases, but SSDI lawyers receive a federally-mandated payment which is very modest indeed. How much? Well, SSDI lawyers are only allowed to receive money from your past-due benefits (money you are owed while waiting to hear of a decision by the SSA), and only 25% of that up to $6,000. This money comes out of the past-due payments, not your own pocket. If you are owed no back-due payments, then your lawyer doesn’t get paid. Lawyers literally cost you nothing.
4) Myth: SSDI benefits will equal your current pay
Fact: SSDI benefits are designed to help you stay afloat and meet your basic needs. They are not intended to replace your salary. The average current monthly payout of SSDI benefits is $1,171 — far below what many applicants actually make.
5) Myth: SSDI payments start immediately
Fact: even after getting approved, it takes some time before those payments kick in — usually about three months. The good news, though, is that once you are approved you are technically getting paid, which means that you can also expect to get a check for those initial three months of waiting (this is the back-pay referred to earlier). This payment arrives a little bit later, however.
6) Myth: A doctor’s word diagnosis is good enough to get benefits
Fact: Believe it or not, this one is false. While a doctor’s word — and the accompanying medical records — are necessary for an SSDI case, they are by no means a guarantee that you will definitely win. Of course, having a credible doctor evaluate you certainly increases your chances, but the ultimate decision is up to the SSA.
7) Myth: SSDI benefits are for life
Fact: They may be, but that’s not certain. Everyone on SSDI benefits undergoes re-evaluations from time to time (how often depends on your condition and how likely you are to recover). If a re-evaluation shows that your condition has improved and you may now be able to work, then there’s a good chance you will lose your SSDI and have to re-enter the workforce.