Top 9 Social Security Disability Myths

There is a lot of misinformation out there about applying for Social Security disability benefits. We asked our program experts to shed some light on these common misconceptions. Here are their top nine myths about Social Security disability.


1) If you are applying for disability, you are not allowed to work or have earned income. 

You will not be automatically denied for benefits if you are working part-time and not making much money. However, full-time work constitutes substantial gainful activity (SGA), which disability claimants must be unable to perform.

2) Everyone is denied by Social Security the first time they apply for disability.

In fact, nationwide, about 30% of claims nationwide are approved on the first application filed with the Social Security Administration.

3) A decision will be made on your disability claim in 90 to 120 days. 

Social Security Disability cases can be won in as few as 30 days, or take as long as two years for benefits to be awarded. You are more likely to get approved quickly the more serious your disability is.

4) You can get approved for benefits automatically with a statement from your physician supporting your case.

Letters from physicians have little impact on the decision in most Social Security disability cases. This is because most doctors submit short letters with inadequate detail to be of any value to a disability examiner. However, at the ALJ hearing level of appeal, a more detailed “medical source statement” can make a huge difference as to whether or not a disability claimant is approved for benefits.

5) Social Security claims pursued by adults are more difficult to approve than disability claims for children.

In fact, children’s SSI disability cases are often more difficult to win. This is because most children’s disability claims tend to center around common impairments (such as asthma or ADHD). Unless severe, it can be difficult to get approved for benefits for these conditions.

6) You can get approved for benefits automatically with certain disabilities, conditions or medical health problems.

While there are a few medical conditions that automatically apply for disability, there are legal and financial requirements that must be met before a claimant is approved.

7) If you have ever used drugs or alcohol, you are not eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

There are some cases in which the Social Security Administration may attempt to use the fact that you drink or use drugs to ignore your limitations and deny claim. However, their ability to deny your claim is dependent on the nature of the medical condition for which you are applying.

8) Back pay (past due benefits) come to everyone who gets approved for disability.

Not everyone will receive back pay. The vast majority, however, will. This is because Social Security disability cases typically take a great deal of time to finish. Whether you areapplying for SSI or SSDI, you are entitled to receive monthly payments from when you first applied for benefits.

9) Social Security sends you a consultative medical exam for the purpose of providing medical treatment.

Many consultative exams only last five to ten minutes because a claims examiner typically sends a doctor just have a symptom checked or a minor test done.