Social Security Disability: Myths About the Social Security Claims Process

Social Security Disability:  Myths About the Social Security Claims Process

By: Disability Group 

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be intimidating and time-consuming, so understanding how the system works can be the difference between winning or not winning your disability benefits.  Here are some common Social Security disability myths and misconceptions.

Myth: The Social Security Administration denies everyone the first time they apply for disability.

This is absolutely not true!  It is easy to see why people would believe this when about seventy percent of all first applications filed are denied.   A claim requires a lot of paperwork, and claimants are often denied when they do not provided documents that a Social Security disability reviewer has requested.  Your social security lawyer can be helpful to prevent an unnecessary denial.

Myth: The Social Security Administration will deny you a certain number of times before you are approved.

Also not true!  Many people simply file applications over and over again, hoping to be approved.  If you continue to file and get denied at the first stage, you are denying yourself the right to an appeal.  It is the role of the disability lawyer to make sure that you follow the appeals process up to the highest level in a timely manner, meeting all deadlines. 

Myth: The best way to appeal a Social Security claim denial is to file a brand new application.

No.  This is often the worst thing you can do because most initial applications are denied.  A new application will most likely be denied for the same reason as the last.  Historically, and statistically most claimants are awarded only after being heard by an administrative law judge.  A claim will never get that far in the process if you just file a new application.  Follow the appeals process and find representation.

Myth: Certain medical conditions or mental health problems can get you automatically approved for benefits.

Yes and No.  Certain impairments are singled out..  If you meet an SSA listing it is easier to get approved, but not automatic.  All claims are evaluated according to medical evidence.

Regular medical treatment during your claim documents your condition for a better chance of obtaining benefits.  If you have irregular doctor visits and little medical evidence there is significantly less chance for an approval 

Myth: You cannot get Social Security Disability if you have used drugs or alcohol.

This is not true.  Each case is different but you have a better chance of obtaining benefits if you have maintained at least six month of sobriety.  How often and how recent you used is most important.  Simply put, Social Security will not pay benefits to someone who caused their condition or made it worse by drug or alcohol use.  If quitting would improve your condition, it is relevant and you will not win

For example, a person applies for disability based on liver dysfunction.  If the claimant’s liver damage were so severe that quitting alcohol would make no difference, then the alcohol abuse would be irrelevant.  If quitting alcohol would result in medical improvement, then the alcohol abuse is relevant and the claim would be denied.   

If you have a history of abuse but are not currently using substances you should carefully review your medical records before filing for disability.  Doctors and mental health professionals will often indicate “suspected use” in their treatment notes.  Such indications can have a damaging effect on a disability case.  Claimants, whose disabling conditions are psychiatric in nature, should know that mental cases are more likely to be denied when substance abuse is involved.  You should get a lawyer to help you navigate through medical records and the rest of the claim process.

While there are many myths about the Social Security claim process that are untrue, the process does include a fair amount of rules, regulations, and paperwork that a social security attorney is better suited to deal with.

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