10 Myths About Social Security Disability Explained
There are several myths about social security disability that may be hindering people who need it from applying. Explore – and bust – some of those myths.
Myth 1: Social Security Disability Is Only For Permanent Disabilities
If you are disabled because of an injury or illness that lasts at least 12 months or is expected to end in death, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
You may apply for SSD benefits before the 12-month mark if you believe your disability will affect you for 12 months or more.
Myth 2: You Can’t Receive SSD If You’re Already Receiving Workers’ Comp Benefits
If you are disabled because of a workplace injury or illness, you might be entitled to receive both workers’ compensation benefits and SSD benefits.
While the receipt of workers’ comp benefits can potentially reduce the amount of SSD benefits you are awarded, usually you will still recover more total benefits by virtue of receiving both awards.
Myth 3: Social Security Benefit Amounts Increase Every Year
SSD benefit amounts are adjusted every year to keep pace with inflation, but this doesn’t mean they increase annually.
Cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) are tied to federal consumer price indexes. In 2021, the COLA for SSD benefits was 1.3 percent.This raised the average SSD recipient’s benefits to $2,224 from $2,195 in 2020.
Myth 4: You Can’t Receive SSD Benefits If You Continue To Work
Special “work incentives” rules may allow SSDrecipients to receive monthly SSD payments while they test their ability to return to work.
A “trial work period” can last up to 9 months after you begin receiving SSD payments without any change to your ongoing benefit payments.
However, if your income exceeds certain limits or continues too long, you will be ineligible for continuing SSD benefits.
In 2018, 204,932 SSD recipients participated in a trial work period, and 91,968 returned to work after successfully completing a trial work period.
Myth 5: You Must Be At Or Near Retirement Age To Receive Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability is not a retirement program. It’s designed for any adult who can’t work because of a disability, regardless of their age.
Thus, anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to file for SSD benefits.
The criteria for eligibility for SSD benefits changes as a person ages (with stricter rules for most people under 50 years of age).
In 2019, the average age an SSD recipient began receiving benefits was 51.6 years old.
As of 2017, 125,634 people in Oklahoma received SSDIbenefits, and 90,040 received SSI.
Myth 6: Everyone’s Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied On Their First Try
There is no doubt that the vast majority of initial applications for SSD benefits are denied by SSA.
However, many applications contain errors that lead to their denial. Enlisting the help of an experience SSD lawyer, even at the initial application stage, can result in a quicker approval for benefits.
A recent survey found that when the SSD applicant utilized the services of an attorney the likelihood of the initial application being approved almost doubled.
Myth 7: Social Security Benefits Are Like Retirement Savings
While SSD benefits are calculated based on how much you earned during your working years, SSA did not set aside payroll deductions from your past paychecks in a personal account for you in case you became disabled.
Disability benefits are funded by current workers’ contributions into the SSA disability system.
Social Security will not replace all of your income.
Myth 8: Social Security Benefits Aren’t Taxable
A portion of your SSD benefits may be taxable, depending on your income level.
If your individual yearly income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you will owe federal income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
If your individual yearly income is more than $34,000, you will owe taxes on up to 85 percentof your benefits.
Myth 9: The Social Security System Is Going Broke
The Social Security program is funded on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. In other words, current workers and employers pay for current recipients’ benefits through payroll taxes.
At the end of 2019, Social Security’s reserves had increased $2 billion to $2.9 trillion.
SSA predicts that the Disability Insurance Trust Fund will be able to pay full benefits until 2065.
Myth 10: You Are Not Eligible For SSD Benefits If You Have Never Worked
It’s possible for people who have never worked to claim SSD benefits.
People with lifelong disabilities may also qualify for need-based benefits from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.