What Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability Benefits

filing for disability

Filing for disability benefits might seem like a science — but it’s not. The truth is, a human being approves or denies your disability claim, not a computer. Which means there are possibly some obstacles that could stop you from getting approved. And that’s true even if you have a legitimate disability that should normally qualify for SSD.



Four Things Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability

Below, we’ll explain four things nobody tells you about filing for disability. Some of these disability secrets might even help you improve your application. At the very least, you’ll learn how and why the Social Security Administration (SSA) approves some claims — but denies others.

#1 Thing Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability: A College Degree Can Hurt Your Chances for Approval

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, SSDI approval rates are lowest among people with college degrees. And that’s true regardless of the condition that’s listed on your claim. Why? Because the SSA assumes people with more education can find work opportunities that fit within their current limits. Even after you turn 50, having a high school diploma makes you more likely to get approved than college degrees. There’s nothing you can do if you already finished college — and excluding it from your application won’t help, either. The SSA can see all your background information, even if you leave it off. However, the main factor in obtaining benefits has to do with how your condition limits your ability to work.

#2 Thing Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability: Your SSDI Payment Equals About 40% of the Wages You Earned While Working

Much like regular Social Security retirement benefits, Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) payments can’t replace 100% of your work income. And that’s because legislators never intended it to cover more than half your usual monthly wages. What that means is, filing for disability can help those unable to work due to health issues. But the amount they’ll pay you is based on averaging your highest paychecks earned over your lifetime. Expecting Social Security benefits (either retirement or disability) to replace your current monthly income is simply not realistic. Since Federal lawmakers can change Social Security policy any time, filing for disability may pay even less in the future.

Want to know the biggest lie people spread online about filing for disability that’s totally not true? That anyone filing for disability can get approved without working a day in their lives. Federal law says anyone who never worked (or earned enough credits) can only qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). And that’s assuming this person has an eligible disability and owns less than $2,000 in measurable assets! Starting in December 2018, the most you can get in monthly SSI benefits is $771.

#3 Thing Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability: It’s Impossible to Print, Download or Grab a Paper Application Form Anywhere Online or In Person To Fill Out At Home

That’s right: Even if you’re filing for disability at the local SSA office, you can’t leave with your application. The SSA never lets you take forms home to fill out yourself – an agent must help you in person. People who want to complete these forms in private and review them for mistakes cannot leave with them. Filing for disability online lets you fill them out at your own pace and save your progress as you go. When filing for disability by phone, the SSA agent you’re talking to fills the form out for you. Some applicants insist on seeing a hard copy and verifying their information before submitting it to the SSA. If that describes you, then filing for disability with help from an attorney is your only option. Here’s what you need to get started, whether you’re filing for disability on your own or with an attorney’s help. Both ways to apply are completely free, but a lawyer makes you more likely to get approved and paid faster.

#4 Thing Nobody Tells You About Filing for Disability: Waiting Until You Run Out of Savings To Apply Is a Huge Mistake

The SSA’s mandatory five-month waiting period means the soonest you’ll get paid is six months after filing for disability. (There are some exceptions to this detailed here.) Need another good reason not to wait if you’re thinking about filing for disability? If you make a mistake on your application, it takes 17 months to get an appeals hearing scheduled, on average! (Click here to see average wait times for ALJ appeals hearings in your state). Add that six-month waiting period to the 17-month appeals average, and you’re looking at more than two years without income!

If you worked 5 in the last 10 years at jobs that withheld FICA taxes, you might qualify for SSDI. But SSDI is technically an insurance policy, and your FICA taxes pay that policy’s monthly premiums. So five years from the date you last worked full-time, your insurance coverage automatically lapses. If this happens around the same time you’re filing for disability, the SSA will automatically reject your application. You may still qualify for monthly SSI, but the $771 maximum payment is a lot less than average SSDI benefits. Bottom line, don’t wait to apply!

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

Every disability claim is unique, and the lawyers in our network can answer your claim questions for free. All disability lawyers work on contingency, so you’ll never pay anything unless you win benefits. And if your claim does get approved, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee afterwards.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free disability benefits evaluation online now.

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