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Dispelling Common Myths About Social Security Disability

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Social Security Disability (SSD) is a vital government program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. Despite its importance, there are numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding SSD that often lead to confusion and misinformation. 

So, here, we will debunk some of the most common myths about Social Security Disability, providing a clearer understanding of how the program works and who qualifies for it.

Myth 1: Everyone with a disability qualifies for Social Security Disability

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about Social Security Disability is the belief that anyone with a disability automatically qualifies for benefits. In reality, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict criteria that applicants must meet to be eligible for SSD benefits. To qualify, you must have a severe disability that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA), and this disability must be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

The SSA employs a five-step evaluation process to determine eligibility, including assessing your ability to work, the severity of your disability, and your capacity to perform any previous work. Only individuals who meet these stringent criteria will receive SSD benefits.

Myth 2: Social Security Disability benefits are the same as Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

It is common for people to confuse Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits with Supplemental Security Income (SSI), but they are distinct programs with different eligibility requirements and funding sources.

SSD benefits are based on your work history and payroll tax contributions. To qualify for SSD, you must have earned enough work credits through your employment history, typically by working and paying Social Security taxes for a specific number of years. The amount you receive in SSD benefits is determined by your average lifetime earnings.

On the other hand, SSI is a needs-based program designed to assist low-income individuals with disabilities. It is not contingent on your work history or earnings. To be eligible for SSI, you must meet specific income and resource limits, and the benefit amount is standardized across all recipients.

Myth 3: SSD Benefits are Easily and Quickly Obtained

Another common myth about Social Security Disability is that you can easily and quickly obtain benefits once you apply. In reality, the SSD application process can be lengthy and challenging. Many initial applications are denied, and applicants often need to go through multiple levels of appeals before their claims are approved.

The application process involves gathering extensive medical records and providing detailed information about your disability, work history, and daily activities. It can take several months to receive a decision, and in many cases, applicants must wait even longer for their appeals to be processed.

To improve your chances of success, it’s crucial to have strong medical evidence that supports your disability claim, and it may be helpful to consult with an experienced Social Security disability attorney in Orlando.

Myth 4: You Can Work and Still Receive Social Security Disability Benefits

Some individuals believe that they can continue working part-time or even full-time and still qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. While it is possible to work while receiving SSD benefits, there are strict limitations on your earnings.

The SSA uses a concept called “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) to determine if your earnings are too high to be considered disabled. In 2024, the SGA limit for non-blind individuals is $1,350 per month. If you earn more than this amount, the SSA may conclude that you are engaging in substantial gainful activity and, therefore, are not eligible for SSD benefits.

However, the SSA offers a trial work period during which you can test your ability to work while still receiving benefits. During this period, you can earn any amount without risking the loss of your benefits. Once the trial work period ends, if you continue to earn above the SGA limit, your benefits may be affected.

Myth 5: Social Security Disability Benefits Last Forever

It is a common misconception that once you are approved for Social Security Disability benefits, you will receive them for the rest of your life. In reality, SSD benefits are subject to periodic reviews by the SSA to determine if your disability has improved and whether you still qualify for benefits.

The SSA conducts two types of reviews:

  • Medical Continuing Disability Reviews (CDRs): These reviews assess your medical condition to determine if you are still disabled according to the SSA’s criteria. CDRs are typically scheduled at regular intervals, depending on the severity of your disability.
  • Work Continuing Disability Reviews (WCDRs): If you are receiving SSD benefits and are working, the SSA may conduct WCDRs to evaluate whether you are still engaged in substantial gainful activity.

If the SSA determines that your condition has improved or that you no longer meet the eligibility criteria, your benefits may be terminated. It is essential to cooperate with any reviews and provide accurate and up-to-date information to avoid disruptions in your benefits.

Myth 6: You can’t appeal a Denial of Social Security Disability Benefits

Many people mistakenly believe that if their initial SSD application is denied, they have no recourse and must accept the decision. In reality, there is a robust appeals process in place for those who disagree with the SSA’s decision.

The appeal process consists of four levels:

  • Reconsideration: If your initial application is denied, you can request a reconsideration, during which a different SSA representative will review your case.
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing: If your reconsideration is also denied, you can request a hearing before an ALJ. During the hearing, you and your Social Security lawyer in Orlando can present evidence and testimony to support your claim.
  • Appeals Council Review: If the ALJ denies your claim, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. They will assess whether the ALJ followed proper procedures and made a fair decision.
  • Federal Court Review: If all other avenues are exhausted, you have the option to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Appealing a denial can be a lengthy process, but it often results in a more favorable outcome for deserving applicants.


Social Security Disability is a crucial safety net for individuals who cannot work due to disabilities, but it is essential to separate fact from fiction when it comes to the program’s eligibility, benefits, and application process. 

By seeking accurate information and possibly consulting with a disability lawyer in Orlando, applicants can navigate the system more effectively and increase their chances of securing the benefits they deserve.

We at Nationwide Disability Representatives help individuals navigate the complex application and appeals process. 

If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with their SSD application or appeal, contact us today for a free consultation. Let us help you on the path to securing the benefits you deserve.