There are a lot of myths about Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits (some of which have been discussed on this page before).
Listening to the wrong information can steer you in directions that will hurt your chances of getting the benefits you need, so here are three more myths about SSD claims that you should ignore.
Myth: You have to be disabled for a year before you can file
In order to qualify for SSD, you have to have a disability that has lasted or is expected to last for 12 months or longer (or is terminal). You don’t have to wait that whole year to file, nor should you. As of 2023, it takes around seven months to get an initial decision on an SSD claim, and the median wait time in 2015 between initial applications and approvals upon appeal was 2.3 years. Waiting to file your claim is neither required nor in your best interest.
Myth: You can’t file for disability benefits until your doctor tells you to file
Doctors rarely tell their patients to file for disability benefits because that’s not their job – so if you’re waiting on your doctor’s permission to file, you could be waiting forever. It is good, however, to enlist your doctor’s support for your claim by telling them that you’ve decided to file and how your condition prevents you from working. Ask them if they will assist you by making sure to complete and return any forms the Social Security Administration wants from them.
Myth: You can’t get SSD if you use drugs or have been diagnosed as an alcoholic
You can’t qualify for SSD based solely on addiction to drugs or alcohol, but your claim won’t be denied solely on that basis either. Instead, SSA will determine if your drug or alcohol use is a contributing factor to your disability. If you would be disabled even without a substance abuse problem, you can still qualify for benefits.
Don’t let bad information or confusion about the application process stop you from receiving the Social Security Benefits you need. Legal assistance is available at any time.