If you are confronted with an illness, injury or other condition that leaves you so severely impaired that you are no longer able to work, you may have considered the possibility of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. This federal program exists to extend financial protection in the long-term for adults who have worked and paid into the program.
However, many people are deterred from applying in the first place – or put if off as long as possible – because they’ve heard the horror stories. They’ve heard of the mounts of paperwork, the seemingly systematic denials and the long waiting periods.
There is some truth to these stories, but there is also a fair amount of fiction floating around.
Our Boston SSDI attorneys are committed to providing our clients with the full picture so they can make informed judgments. The important take-away is that having an attorney assisting you through the process can make it all go much more smoothly, and statistically can improve your chances of success.
- Everyone is denied. This is simply not true. What is true is that the standards for receiving SSDI benefits are strict. The process is also rigorous. But the Social Security Administration does this so that they can make sure the person applying really is disabled and cannot work. The allowance rate for disability claims is about 33 percent. Most people aren’t going to be approved the first time they apply, but the chances improve as a case moves through the appeals process.
- SSDI will replace your work income. Not exactly. SSDI payments are actually quite modest, with the average being around $1,165 as of 2015. The goal is to help replace some of the income you have lost, and to help you meet basic living costs. It’s a safety net, and for many people, it is the only thing keeping them afloat. However, it’s certainly not a way to get rich. Most people’s pre-disability income will not be 100 percent replaced.
- My doctor says I’m disabled, so now I can get benefits. Not so fast. For SSDI purposes, your disability is a legal determination, not a medical one. So while your doctor may provide key details of your condition and lends credibility and weight to your claim, other elements are also taken into consideration.
- SSDI benefits are for life. It’s possible, but there is no guarantee. The SSA schedules to review medical conditions periodically, depending on the circumstances. For example, if your condition is expected to improve, you may have a review in 6 months to 18 months after becoming disabled. If improvement is possible but not guaranteed, reviews may be conducted every three years. In cases where one’s condition is not expected to improve, reviews can be done every seven years.
- SSDI payments kick in automatically. The truth is SSDI payments can take somewhere between three to five months to be issued, and that is once they are approved.
- It’s worth it to seek SSDI for a short-term illness. In fact, SSDI benefits were intended to serve as a long-term program for people with long-term disabilities. Only applications for those with conditions lasting a year or longer – or those that are terminal – are even considered. Short-term disability may be paid through private insurance or, in some cases, workers’ compensation.
If you are considering applying for SSDI, let our experienced lawyers help answer your questions and address your concerns.
If you or a loved one is seeking Social Security Disability Insurance in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
10 Myths and Facts About Social Security Disability Insurance, August 2015, By Kathleen Doheny, Everyday Health
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Acting Social Security Administration Commissioner Resigns, Feb. 6, 2017, Boston SSDI Lawyer Blog