The Social Security system has had its fair share of endless loops of misinformation in the recent past. Myths and circulate quickly thanks to the power of the internet. Today I will expose a few of the myths that have been associated with social security.
Myth 1: Certain disabilities give you an advantage in securing SSD approval.
The disability evaluation process is never automatic and with SS nothing is ever so obvious. It is however worth noting that the SSA is doing all it can to expedite the handling of serious health conditions and rare diseases. In 2008, a “Compassionate Allowance List” was drafted. All conditions listed on this list are serious and therefore a diagnosis of any one of them will leave the applicant at a higher chance of qualifying for disability benefits. But once again, it is important to keep in mind that nothing is an outright guarantee with Social Security.
Myth 2: People who have used drugs or alcohol can’t be awarded SSD benefits.
Although the SSA is keen to find out one’s history of drugs, it is not always obvious that past addicts will have their claims denied. It is still possible to get disability benefits but in that case you need to seek the input of experienced social security lawyers. Again, whether or not the SSA will deny your claim on the basis of drug use depends on the nature of the health condition for which you’re seeking benefits. If your drug use is deemed to be the material contributing factor to your medical impairment, then the SSA will most likely reject the claim.
Myth 3: Once you’re approved for SSD you’ll automatically receive benefits.
Whether you’re going to receive past due benefits or not will depend on the length of time that the SSA takes to approve your claim. So if the process takes two years to complete, your payment meter will be running and you’ll receive this amount in back pay once your claim is approved. Note that you cannot get back payment for months before the application date. You’re only compensated for the period of time within which you awaited the SSA to reach a decision. It may seem automatic that one would receive back pay because disability cases tend to drag on for a couple of years. But this isn’t always a guarantee as your case may be resolved faster than others.
Myth 4: You’ll receive communication on your disability claim some 90 to 120 days after filing a claim.
It is not always easy to tell how long or how short the SSA is going to take to issue official communication about your claim. Some SSD/SSI cases can be won in as short as one month. Others can take as long as 2 years. There is simply no formula to predict the duration of time you’re going to wait to get your claim either accepted or denied. Note that there has been a steep rise in disability claims of late and this has slowed down the wheels of the SSA approval/denial process.
Myth 5: Disability benefits are “safe” and cannot be seized for child support.
This depends on the type of disability benefits that one is receiving. SSDI beneficiaries can have their benefits seized for child support but SSI recipients cannot. SSDI is the benefit for which one has to pay social security taxes for many years to be eligible for. On the other hand SSI is a needs-based program that is structured for low-income disabled people. Now, SSI is assumed to be a form of public welfare and therefore cannot be taken for other purposes. However SSDI may be seized as it emanates from your income records.
Myth 6: You’re not allowed to look for gainful income once you’re approved for SSD benefits.
The SSA must ascertain whether you are working before evaluating your eligibility for benefits. If you have a part time job and are not bringing in enough money to sustain yourself, you won’t necessarily be denied your benefits. However, engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) could guarantee that you will be denied benefits. The SSA defines SGA as any type of work that brings you over $1,070 (non-blind applicants) and $1800 (blind applicants). So if your current job doesn’t bring you this kind of income, there’s absolutely no need to worry about your claim being denied on grounds of your income.
Myth 7: The consultative medical exam you undertake courtesy of SS can be used for medical treatment.
Often the Disability Determination Services (DDS) will send you to a doctor to have a brief test (usually lasts for 5 to 10 minutes) done. This test is done when the DDS doubts your disability and needs recent medical evidence in order to terminate your disability benefits. Keep in mind that when you undertake this examination, you aren’t going to see a doctor for treatment. You’re going to a private practitioner who has been contracted to simply conduct a brief exam to prove your disability. Thus, this session isn’t meant to be used for further medical treatment.
Myth 8: It is obvious you’re going to be denied SSD approval for the first time you apply.
This is a wrongful belief that has been spreading of late. The SSA has no formula or policy that influences claims in such a way that almost every initial applicant is automatically denied. The approval rate for first time applicants nation-wide stands at about 30%. This may however vary from state to state. Simply put, while 70% of first time applicants get denied, those that have severe medical conditions often make receive benefits on the first try. In order to significantly improve your chances of being approved on the first application you will need to have a doctor fill out an RFC form in advance and find a reputable lawyer to represent you.
There are many other myths on Social Security in circulation. However the 8 I’ve debunked above are the most common ones you’ll come across.
About the Author:
Derek Fraser is an online Blogger. He likes to write about various articles related to Law, Legal Issues, Home Improvement, Internet Marketing, Business Tips and Eco Friendly Measures.