8 Common Misconceptions about Social Security Disability in San Jose

Get the Facts about Social Security Disability

If you can get clear answers about how Social Security Disability (SSD) works, that can take away some of the stress of applying for benefits.

But when you’re struggling with serious health problems, you can’t work, and you’re facing a financial crisis, your head swims with questions, concerns and information you’ve heard people say about how the disability system works.

So what is fact? And what is fiction?

Let’s cut through the confusion.

At Angelina Valle & Associates, we’ve been helping people win disability benefits in San Jose, Salinas and around our region for over 35 years.

Monthly disability income and the Medicare or Medicaid health coverage that comes with it can help you hold on to a degree of normalcy.

Keep reading for the most common misconceptions about Social Security Disability that we see, and our explanation of how it really works.

At Angelina Valle & Associates, Social Security Disability is all we do.

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8 Common Social Security Disability Myths

These are some of the most common misconceptions about Social Security Disability benefits that we hear:

Misconception No. 1: Social Security Disability benefits are a free handout.

Many people don’t understand that you pay into Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with every paycheck.

It’s not a handout. It’s a type of insurance coverage that you paid for. It protects you financially when health problems mean you can no longer work. And you have to meet strict requirements to get it.

If you can’t work because of serious health problems, this is a form of support you have earned.

Misconception No. 2: Many people cheat the system and get disability checks when they don’t deserve it.

While a few people out there might try to get around the rules, cases where they succeed are rare.

If you think you know someone—friend, neighbor, relative—who receives disability benefits but seems like they could work and don’t deserve the help, stop and think about whether you know all the facts.

Many serious medical conditions aren’t obvious just by looking at someone. They may be struggling with more than you realize.

It’s much more common for people to deserve benefits but get denied.

Misconception No. 3: It’s simple to get Social Security Disability benefits.

It would be great if you could just tell Social Security about your health problems, and how they stop you from working, and Social Security would believe you and start sending financial assistance.

But that’s not how it works.

You have to prove to Social Security—using medical records, work history and more—that you deserve benefits. You have forms to fill out, steps to complete, rules to follow and deadlines to meet.

This is why it can be a major help to you to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer.

Misconception No. 4: It’s impossible to get Social Security Disability benefits.

This isn’t right, either.

While it’s true that most people get denied when they first apply for benefits, Social Security also gives you several chances to appeal.

With time and effort, you can still win benefits.

It helps to have someone who understands the system, the process and how it works, like a disability attorney.

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Misconception No. 5: If I get Social Security Disability benefits, I can’t work at all.

It’s understandable to think that, because Social Security Disability is designed to help people who can’t work because their health is too bad.

But there is an exception: If you work less than a certain amount set by Social Security, you can still qualify for benefits.

You have to work less than what Social Security calls “substantial gainful activity.”

A disability lawyer can look at your situation and let you know how your level of work affects your chances at getting or keeping benefits.

Misconception No. 6: I can’t get Social Security Disability benefits and workers’ compensation at the same time.

Actually, you can.

If your long-term health impairment started with an injury or illness you received at work, you may qualify for both workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability benefits.

Social Security may reduce the amount you receive from them while you’re getting workers’ comp. But when your workers’ comp benefits end, you can keep getting Social Security Disability for as long as you still can’t work.

And Social Security will increase your monthly checks to your full disability benefit at that point.

If you qualify for both kinds of benefits, it makes sense to claim both of them.

Misconception No. 7: There’s no way around waiting a long time to get SSD benefits.

It’s true that it can take a long time to get disability benefits: months for your initial application and maybe a year or more when you have to appeal a denial.

But in certain circumstances, Social Security can speed up your claim.

Those circumstances include when you have an acute, life-threatening disease. Social Security calls that a “compassionate allowance.”

Another way you can get a faster decision is if your case qualifies as a dire need. That’s when your economic situation is urgent, such as you may become homeless if you don’t receive benefits soon.

Misconception No. 8: If I return to work but have to stop again, I have to start over.

If you’re back at work, but your health problems worsen within five years of when you first qualified for disability benefits, you don’t have to reapply for benefits.

You can also test out going back to work under a special Social Security program. You can keep your benefits in the meantime, while you see how well you’re able to work.

Social Security wants you to go back to work if you can, so they don’t want you to be afraid to try out of worry that you can’t get your disability benefits again.

Get Your Own Social Security Disability Questions Answered

If you’re wondering about something you heard about Social Security Disability benefits, at Angelina Valle & Associates, we are happy to help.

Many of your disability questions will be specific to your case.

You can get our disability legal team to provide an evaluation of your claim for free.

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