If a debilitating injury or illness prevents you from continuing to work, you may be able to receive benefits through the U.S. Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program to help you and your family cope with lost income and medical coverage.
However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has extremely strict guidelines for accepting a disability claim. In 2018, the SSA denied 65% of applicants seeking benefits for the first time. Knowing how to avoid common application mistakes may help you receive the financial support you need much sooner.
1. Filing while still receiving income
To qualify for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, your medical condition must prevent you from performing “substantial gainful activity.” Even if you only have a part-time job, the SSA may deny your application if your monthly income exceeds a certain amount. In 2020, the maximum income allowed for nonblind individuals is $1,260 per month.
2. Failing to provide a full medical history
When filing your claim, make sure to provide as much medical evidence as possible to prove that your condition is indeed debilitating and expected to last for at least 12 months.
In addition to medical records, such as exam histories, diagnoses, surgeries and prescriptions, you may want to ask both your primary care physician and any specialists to provide statements that explain how your condition affects your ability to work and your quality of life.
3. Using inaccurate information on the application
Providing incorrect or incomplete information may lead to processing delays or automatic application denial. Before filling out your application, gather detailed information about your employment history and medical background.
The SSA has a zero-tolerance approach toward potential fraud. While you may feel tempted to exaggerate your condition, doing so may jeopardize your eligibility for benefits.
4. Giving up after an initial rejection
Most first-time applicants have their initial SSD claims denied. If the SSA rejects your first application for benefits, you still have the option to appeal the decision. With better preparation the second time around, you may have an increased chance of accessing needed support.