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More FAQs

More Frequently Asked Questions 

Q. Why does Social Security turn down so many claims for disability benefits?

A. There is no simple answer to this question. One reason is that there is no simple way to determine whether an individual is disabled. Most people who are disabled suffer from pain. There is no way of determining whether or not an individual is really in pain, much less how much pain they are in. A second reason is that Social Security over the years has been more concerned with making sure that everyone who is receiving Social Security disability benefits is “truly” disabled. An underlying reason is that Congress has always believed that, given a chance, many people will “fake” disability in order to get benefits.

Q. I only want to get back the money I put in Social Security. Why do they make it so hard for me to get my own money back?

A. Actually, when you file a Social Security disability claim, you are not trying to just get “your own money” back. The money that an individual may have paid into Social Security over the years would not last very long if that was all that an individual could draw from Social Security.

Q. If I get on Social Security disability and begin to feel better and want to return to work, can I return to work?

A. Yes, you can return to work. Social Security wants individuals drawing disability benefits to return to work and gives them every encouragement to do so. For persons receiving Disability Insurance Benefits, Disabled Widow’s and Widower’s Benefits, and Disabled Adult Child Benefits, full benefits may continue for a year after an individual returns to work. Even thereafter, an individual who has to stop work in the following three years can get back on Social Security disability benefits immediately without having to file a new claim. In SSI cases, things work differently, but there is still a strong encouragement to return to work.

Q. I am already on Social Security disability benefits, but I am worried that my benefits will be stopped in the future. What are the chances of this happening?

A. Social Security is not supposed to cut off disability benefits for an individual unless his or her medical condition has improved. When Social Security reviews a case of someone already on Social Security disability benefits, they continue benefits in the vast majority of cases.
In recent years, Social Security has been doing few reviews to determine whether or not individuals already on Social Security disability benefits are still disabled. This is changing and Social Security should be doing far more reviews in the next few years. However, the vast majority of individuals who are reviewed will see their Social Security disability benefits continued.

Q. If Social Security tries to cut off my disability benefits, what can I do?

A. You should appeal immediately. If you appeal within 10 days after being notified that your disability benefits are being ceased, you can ask that your disability benefits continue while you appeal the decision cutting off your benefits. You may also want to talk with a representative for advice, but you should file the appeal immediately.

Q. My doctor says I am disabled so why is Social Security denying my Social Security disability claims?

A. Social Security’s position is that it is not up to your doctor to determine whether or not you are disabled. It is up to Social Security and they will make their own decision regardless of what your doctor thinks.

Q. Do you have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security disability benefits?

A. It is Social Security’s position that VA decisions are not binding upon them. Social Security and VA have very different standards for approving disability claims.

Q. If I get Social Security disability benefits will I get Medicare?

A. If you are approved for any kind of Social Security disability benefit other than SSI you will get Medicare after you have been entitled to Social Security disability benefits for two years.

Q. If I get Social Security disability benefits will I get Medicaid?

A. If you are approved for SSI, you will also receive Medicaid benefits. If you are found disabled under the SSDI program, you will receive Medicare benefits two years after the established onset date. It is possible to get both Medicare and Medicaid benefits if you are simultaneously entitled to both SSI and SSDI.

Q. Why should I apply for benefits?

A. Entitlement to Social Security Disability allows you to receive monthly disability benefit checks for you and your family. In many cases, you will also receive a large lump sum payment for back benefits owed to you. 

    With SSDI you become eligible for Medicare after 2 years of entitlement to disability benefits.

    With SSI you become eligible for Medicare along with entitlement to benefits.

Social Security Retirement and Survivor's benefits are protected because any year within a period of approved disability will be excluded when your benefit payment is calculated.
Your Social Security payments may be tax free depending on your other income.

Q. Does Social Security take my age into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Yes, Social Security uses separate rules for different ages.

Q. Does Social Security take my education into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Yes, Social Security uses separate rules for different levels of education.

Q. Does Social Security take my past work into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Yes, Social Security uses separate rules about different work experiences.

Q. Does Social Security take my physical limitations into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Yes, Social Security uses separate rules for different levels of physical limitations.

Q. Does Social Security take my mental limitations into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

Q. Does Social Security take my mental limitations into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

Q. Does Social Security take my education into consideration in determining whether I am disabled?

A. Yes, Social Security uses separate rules for different levels of education.
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