There are many misconceptions regarding the Social Security Disability process. Here, the Social Security Disability lawyers at Disability Associates deconstruct common myths associated with Social Security.

Myth #1: Everyone is denied the first time they apply for Social Security Disability.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has no policy, rule or regulation that mandates the denial of an individual’s first application. It is true, however, that many applicants are not approved upon the first attempt. In Maryland, approximately 30% of applications are approved after the first submission, and another 15% are approved after a reconsideration review. After an appeal hearing, nearly 60% of applicants are typically approved.

To prevent rejection, fill out the requisite paperwork fully and accurately, and have your doctor fill out a Residual Functional Capacity Form (RFC) to help strengthen the support for your claim.

Myth #2: Children are more likely to be approved for benefits than adults.

In fact, the opposite is quite true: children often have a more difficult time being approved for Social Security Disability benefits. Many children’s applications involve disabilities such as asthma, epilepsy, ADHD or learning disabilities, which can be difficult to diagnose, or significantly altered by proper medication or treatment. This often reduces a child applicant’s chance of approval.

Additionally, many children who suffer from these disabilities improve with age, making it harder for the SSA to decide whether disability benefits are justified. Severe impairments, however, stand a good chance of being approved.

Myth #3: You cannot get social security disability benefits if you have ever used drugs or consumed alcohol.

The SSA can use history of drug or alcohol use as justification to deny a claim. That being said, whether this is a viable reason for denial depends on the type of disability an applicant is claiming, and whether there is evidence that drugs and alcohol have or can negatively impact the condition.

If drugs or alcohol are determined to be a material contributing factor to the condition in question, the applicant will not be approved for disability benefits. There is, however, a caveat to this: a condition caused by drug or alcohol abuse, such as liver cirrhosis, could be approved by the SSA if eliminating alcohol or drug intake would do nothing to stem the progression of the disease.

Myth #4: You cannot work for an income if you are on Social Security Disability benefits.

The SSA will assess whether you are capable of “substantial gainful activity,” which helps to determine your eligibility for benefits. Substantial gainful activity is work that brings in a specific level of income per month: as of 2017, this is $1,170 for non-blind applicants and $1,950 for blind applicants.

If an applicant ceases to work after a six-month period due to their impairment, the work is usually considered a “failed work attempt,” and will not be considered substantial gainful activity. Even if your income level is above or below the requirements, the SSA still has the discretion to decide whether your work qualifies as substantial gainful activity, and often rejects applicants who make more than the maximum income threshold.

How Disability Associates Can Help

Understanding Social Security Disability benefits can be challenging, and having an advocate to help is critical. The dedicated attorneys at Disability Associates want to help you receive the benefits you deserve—contact us today for more information!