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Social Security Disability Myths

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Our New York SSD Attorney Clarifies Some Common Myths about Social Security Disability 

As with most government benefit programs, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is shrouded in a cloak of bureaucracy, leading to widespread myths about exactly how the program works. This is particularly true as workers tend to repeat rumors and anecdotal experiences they hear through the grapevine, resulting in widespread misinformation. To clarify various aspects of the SSDI program, we have debunked a few of the myths surrounding it below. For further information about the program, please contact a New York SSD lawyer. We help clients throughout Manhattan and Long Island, including Nassau and Suffolk County. 

I’m Covered by SSDI at My Job

Many workers assume that they are eligible for SSDI benefits simply by being employed. However, not all employees are covered by the program, including: 

  • Federal employees hired before 1984
  • Railroad employees who have been employed by a railroad for more than 10 years
  • Some state and local government employees
  • Individuals under the age of 21 who work for their parents

If you work in one of these professions, you should consider contacting a Long Island SSD lawyer to explore other options. 

I Haven’t Worked Long Enough to Qualify for SSDI Benefits

The SSDI program is not reserved merely for individuals who have been employed for lengthy periods. Instead, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a work credits system to determine whether individuals qualify for benefits based on their age. Generally, the age-work credit scheme works as follows: 

  • Under age 24: Individuals under the age of 24 may qualify if they have six credits earned in the three years before their disability starts (roughly 1.5 years of work)
  • Between age 24 and 30: Individuals who become disabled between the ages of 24 and 30 must have worked for at least half of the time between the age of 21 and the age at which their disability began. For example, if you became disabled at the age of 27, you would need to have worked at least three of the previous six years since the age of 21. 
  • Age 31 and older: Individuals aged 31 and over need at least five years of work to qualify for SSDI benefits, with the amount of work required increasing by six months for every two years of age. For example, a 42-year-old would need 5 years of work, while a 44-year-old would need 5.5 years of work, and so on. 

My SSDI Payments Will Stop if I Start Working Again

One of the most common misconceptions about the SSDI program is that individuals who receive SSDI benefits are prohibited from working in any capacity. That is not the case. The SSDI program provides benefits for individuals who can no longer engage in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). While the exact definition of what qualifies as SGA will differ according to the individual, the SSA designates a certain monthly income that it considers to be the threshold amount for any individual engaging in SGA. For 2021, the SSA’s monthly SGA amount is $1,310 for non-blind individuals and $2,190 for blind individuals.

It Takes Too Long to Receive SSDI Benefits

Our New York SSD lawyer knows that most SSDI applications are rejected initially, forcing applicants to go through a series of hearings and appeals before they begin to receive their benefits. However, the SSA may expedite the process for individuals who are severely disabled or suffer a terminal illness. Under the Quick Disability Determinations (QDD) and Compassionate Allowances (CAL) programs, the SSA can approve claims in as little as a few days. 

My Disability Isn’t Serious Enough to Qualify for Benefits

Many individuals struggle with the decision to apply for SSDI benefits because they think that their disability may not be severe enough to qualify them for benefits. To many, the term “disabled” conjures up images of individuals with severe physical injuries that prevent them from engaging in the basic activities of daily life. But the SSA uses a much broader definition of “disability” when determining whether an individual qualifies for benefits. Under the SSA’s definition, an individual is disabled when: 

  1. They cannot do the work that they previously engaged in, 
  2. They cannot transition to other types of work due to their medical condition, and 
  3. Their disability is expected to last for at least a year or to result in death.

This definition encompasses various physical and mental illnesses and injuries, including common ailments such as back injuries, asthma, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and depression/bipolar disorder

I Can’t Receive Workers’ Compensation and SSDI at the Same Time

The interaction between the SSDI program and other government programs can be complicated. Generally, there are three forms of public benefits that do not affect your SSDI benefits: 

Other programs, such as workers’ compensation, do affect your SSDI benefits. While it is possible to receive workers’ compensation and SSDI simultaneously, your SSDI benefits will be reduced to account for the benefits you receive through workers’ compensation. Contact our New York SSD lawyer to discuss your specific situation today.

I’m Not Eligible for SSDI if I’m Expected to Recover 

The SSDI program does not require recipients to suffer permanent disabilities. Rather, the requirement is that the disability is expected to keep the recipient out of work for at least a year or result in the recipient’s death. Thus, for example, if your doctor diagnosed your disability as keeping you out of work for 2-3 years, you would qualify for SSDI benefits. 

I Can’t Get SSDI Because I Use Drugs or Alcohol

Individuals who use drugs or alcohol can qualify for SSDI benefits so long as their drug or alcohol use is not a contributing factor to their disability. If the drug or alcohol use is unrelated to the disability — for example, the disability is caused by a worker’s hand being crushed in a piece of heavy machinery — it will not affect the individual’s eligibility for benefits. 

Contact a Long Island SSD Lawyer for More Information 

For more information about the ins and outs of the SSDI program, please contact a Long Island SSD lawyer at Turley Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or calling 516-745-5666 (Garden City), 631-582-3700 (Ronkonkoma), or 631-399-0400 (Shirley). 


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