Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an insurance program through the Social Security Administration (SSA) for people who become unable to work due to severe physical and/or mental impairments prior to reaching full retirement age. There is a lot of misinformation when it comes to applying for SSDI and the Finkel Law Firm wants our client to be properly informed about the journey to obtain benefits.
Myth #1: You cannot hold a job of any kind while applying for SSDI.
False, but working while applying for SSDI is complicated. Under SSA rules, you are technically allowed to perform some limited parttime work and still be eligible for disability benefits. The disability determination process is lengthy and sometimes there is no choice but to do some part-time work to pay for medical bills and living expenses. If you work while applying for disability, SSA will look at the type of job you are working, the hours you work, and the income you receive to determine if you still qualify for SSDI. Even if you are only working a few hours a week and earning minimal income, your case can still be at risk. It is very important to get good legal advice before applying for disability if you need to keep working or if you decide to return to work after you apply.
Myth #2: The SSA always denies first-time disability claims.
While this myth is widely circulated, it is mostly false. Most people (about 63% in 2019) are denied at the initial level; however, 37% of all claims are approved based on their initial application. If you’re denied initially, don’t lose hope! There are several levels of appeal after an initial denial and many applicants are approved on appeal. Statistics show you are more likely to win your case if you are represented by an attorney. If your initial application was denied and you don’t know what to do next, give our offices a call to see if we can help!
Myth #3: SSDI will replace all of your work-related income.
False. SSDI is intended to replace some, but not all pre-disability earnings. SSA averages your lifetime earnings after adjusting for inflation to determine you averaged index monthly earnings. That amount is applied to a mathematical formula to calculate your monthly disability benefit. For 2019, the average monthly disability benefit rate for disabled workers was only $1,423. Although it is less than what you are accustomed to earning, it is better than nothing and you will be qualified for Medicare coverage after a two-year waiting period.
Myth #4: Hiring an attorney to represent you with an SSDI claim is too expensive.
False. If your case is approved, you will not only get monthly benefits going forward, but you may also receive retroactive benefits. Attorney’s fees are heavily regulated by the federal government and you will only pay a fee if we win your case, and you are awarded retroactive benefits. Your attorney is paid a percentage of those retroactive benefits and, in most cases, the attorney fee cannot go over a set amount, which is currently $6,000.
Becoming disabled and having to file for disability is challenging enough, and you shouldn’t have to do it alone. The Finkel Law Firm is here to help our disabled neighbors in Charleston, Columbia, and across the State in their fight for disability. Call the Finkel Law Firm LLC at (803) 765-2935 or (843) 577-5460 and ask to speak with one of our staff in the disability department.