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Social Security Disability Benefits Myths and MisconceptionsMany people believe falsities about Social Security disability (SSD) benefits because of unclear process, the disparity in decisions, and rumors by neighbors and friends. SSD benefits are truly judged on a case by case basis and you shouldn't make assumptions about your case of the process because another person's experience.

Here are seven misconceptions about Social Security disability benefits.

Misconception #1: Anyone can receive Social Security disability benefits.

Absolutely not. There is a long list of requirements that people have to meet to receive SSD benefits. If you fail to meet the criteria, or miss deadlines, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not hesitate to deny your claim.

Misconception #2: Someone I know is receiving Social Security disability benefits and my injury is worse than theirs so I'll definitely get approved. 

Untrue. You're probably correct that the other person on SSD benefits has a less severe condition than you do. But that doesn't mean that you are more likely to be approved. Many other factors play into the speed and chance of success, like the caseload of the employee assigned to look at your case and whether or not you provided enough proof for your injury. The severity of your injury does not speed up the process, and you'll go through the process at the same pace as everyone else applying.

Misconception #3: I already receive workers' compensation benefits, so I'm not eligible for Social Security disability benefits. 

You are entitled to any public benefits that you fulfill the requirements to, and you don't have to choose one. Having Social Security disability benefits may not mean you have met all of the requirements for long-term disability benefits and vice versa. This is why consulting with an experienced attorney about your options may be necessary. You may be missing out on certain benefits because you don't believe you should receive them.

Misconception #4: My doctor says I can't work, so I'll automatically be granted Social Security Disability benefits.

It makes sense for you to believe this, I mean, isn't having your doctor say that you're disabled enough proof? Not necessarily. Having a strong statement from your doctor will increase your chances of success, but nothing is guaranteed. Many people get denied because of common errors made on the application. Having a doctor's note doesn't mean that you neglect other aspects of the application process.

Misconception #5: No one receives Social Security disability benefits the first time they apply.

This isn't entirely true. While it is true that the majority of applications are denied the first time, it's certainly not all of them. You should not expect to have your application will be denied after the first application. Many factors go into whether your claim is approved or denied. If you fill out your paperwork correctly, don't miss deadlines, and are your disability is well documents, you may get approved after your first application. Don't cut corners because you go into the process, believing that your claim will be denied.

That being said, if your benefits application is denied, don't worry because it won't hurt your chances of getting approved after an appeal. If your claim is denied, contact an attorney and file an appeal immediately in order to be seen in front of an Administrative Law Judge.

Misconception #6: I won't receive Social Security disability benefits because I have a history of substance abuse.

Not necessarily because each case is different. People can be approved to receive SSD benefits if the Social Security Administration if substance abuse was not a "material factor" in their disability. This means the SSA will not approve SSD benefits if they believe the substance abuse caused the disability. If you suffer from a medical condition that was not caused or worsened by addiction, you may still be approved even if you are still addicted. 

Misconception #7: Hiring an attorney won't be beneficial to my case.

On the contrary, hiring an attorney will tremendously help you receive Social Security disability benefits. This misconception is born out of the fact that it is not common to hire an attorney before your claim is denied because you won't be spending time in a courtroom. Once a claim is denied, you must start the appeals process and request to have your case reviewed by an Administrative Law Judge. This is much more complex than filling out an application. Having an experienced attorney will ease you through the process and compile the information that the judge needs to know in order to get you approved for the benefits. 

Ben Glass
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Ben Glass is a nationally recognized car accident and ERISA disability attorney in Fairfax, VA.