The Social Security Administration’s Disability benefits system is fraught with unclear requirements and a long and confusing application process. This is unfortunate as so many truly disabled workers have spent a working lifetime paying into the system, earning these needed benefits. To make matters worse, there are endless amounts of inaccurate and/or misleading information floating around the web. The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the most common myths about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
I just became disabled, but since I am almost 62, I can qualify for early Social Security retirement benefits and the benefit amount is about the same so I will just wait.
While it certainly can be a “hassle” to apply for SSDI benefits, the benefit of being awarded SSD versus early retirement far outweighs the hassle, for most. When you elect to take early Social Security retirement benefits at age 62, you get a significantly reduced benefit – as much as 30% less. That is a substantial amount of money, especially stretched out over one’s life expectancy. The SSDI benefit, however, is essentially your full retirement benefit. Therefore, you if you find yourself in this situation, you should contact an SSDI attorney to discuss your options.
I am disabled due to a work-related injury, so I cannot apply for SSDI.
Even if your disability is work-related and you are receiving workers’ compensation disability benefits from your employer, you should still apply for SSDI in most situations if you believe you are disabled. In North Carolina, if you are receiving workers’ compensation disability benefits, you are likely receiving 66 2/3% of your former weekly wage. If you apply for and receive SSDI benefits, there will likely be an offset, but injured workers can typically get additional benefits through SSDI as you are allowed to receive up to 80% of your average current earnings when combining the SSDI and workers’ compensation benefits. Therefore, if you are currently receiving the 66 2/3% workers’ compensation benefit, qualifying for SSDI could mean you receive an additional benefit from SSDI to bring your combined benefit to 80% of your former wage. [Source]
I am disabled, but don’t want to apply for SSDI because it’s a government handout.
Unfortunately, this is a very common belief, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. You may have noticed that on your paychecks you pay a tax called “FICA” (Federal Insurance Contributions Act). You have likely been paying this ever since you started working. It’s an insurance policy, in essence, and if you become disabled, you get an SSDI benefit in an amount which is determined by how much you have paid into the system throughout your working life. Individuals who have never worked cannot qualify for SSDI benefits because they have not paid FICA taxes throughout their working lives. In other words, this should never be considered a “handout.” Whatever benefits you qualify for, you have earned.
I am disabled, but still young, so I cannot qualify for SSDI.
While it is more difficult to get awarded SSDI benefits at a young age, it is certainly not impossible, and Wallace & Graham has helped a number of clients under the age of 40 get awarded SSDI.
I cannot afford a Social Security Disability attorney.
Our law firm offers free consultations to anyone wanting to discuss their options regarding SSDI. Moreover, the only way your attorney gets paid is if you get awarded SSDI which will be paid directly to your attorney by the Social Security Administration out of your past-due benefits.