If you can keep from filing for Social Security disability, it would be best you never did.
Let's discuss all the bad things about filing for Social Security disability:
1. It could potentially take a very long time.
This is especially true for anyone under the age of 50, or those who have semi-skilled to skilled work in their past.
Let's start with those under the age of 50. First, SSA assumes there is still some type of unskilled sit-down work you can perform even despite your impairments. There is a larger hurdle for those under 50 to overcome. Your medical records are going to have to be superb (usually) in order to win. Further, it is also very likely you will have to be denied at least two times and then wait for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Even then, after waiting 1 to 2 years for a decision, the chances of success are only around 40%. Thus, you could have waited a really long time and still be denied.
Next, for those above the age of 50 and have engaged in semi-skilled to skilled work in the last 15 years before filing for disability, your condition is going to have to be so severe you are unable to perform even a sedentary unskilled job. That also is a very large hurdle to overcome. The skills you learned in the past will oftentimes be determined to transfer to some other job you are capable of performing even despite your impairments. Thus, you may learn the hard way, that you waited for 2 years for a decision from an ALJ and find that because of your skills you are not considered disabled, even despite your impairments. In other words, two people at the same age and with the same impairments may receive completely different decisions. The one with a work history of skilled or semi-skilled work will be denied and the one with unskilled work in his or her past may be approved. -That's just how the system is set up.
2. You could lose a lot of work credits you'll need later when it's time to retire.
If you're not working, then you are not paying income taxes and not paying into the Social Security system. This means you are losing work credits you'll need later when you retire. The less you pay into the system, the less income you will get at retirement age. This can be particularly devastating for those without any other sources of income other than their Social Security. You may find yourself having to make severe cut-backs in your living allowances at retirement age. So again, if you can continue to work and still pay into the Social Security system, it is always best you do. On the other hand, if you are approved for benefits, SSA will at least freeze your work credits and not allow your disability to punish your income levels when it is time to receive Social Security retirement benefits.
3. You could get on disability and find yourself being taken off it in just a few years.
For those who are approved for disability benefits, they do not last forever (for most people). In fact, the average person is reviewed for a continuing disabling condition approximately 3 years after being approved initially. In just those 3 years, you could find it difficult to transition back into competitive work. Employers usually do not look favorably on long spans of non-work. It shows that a potential employee may not be as dependable as someone else applying for the same job. Plus, especially where technology is today, you could find that you no longer posses the necessary skills to compete in the marketplace. Here's my opinion, if you are approved for disability benefits, use that time to go back to school, get additional training, be ready to eventually go back into the workplace. Use your time wisely rather than just receiving a check each month.
4. You could find yourself owing the Social Security Administration money.
This happens all the time. SSA oftentimes makes a mistake and overpays claimants. When this occurs, SSA notifies the claimant that he or she is responsible for repaying all of the overpayment. Disability attorneys, like myself, constantly receive phone calls from people asking if we can help them with overpayments. I usually tell people the best thing they can do is negotiate with SSA on a payment plan. However, when this usually occurs, it also means their benefits are being terminated as well. So, most people find themselves without income again, no future job prospects, and SSA telling them they owe the government money -all at the same time.
5. And, you'll usually rack up a ton of medical bills while attempting to get on Social Security disability.
In order to be approved for benefits, the one biggest thing SSA looks at is medical evidence. You must have sufficient medical records to prove to SSA you are disabled. Last I checked, medical care was still not free in the United States. Even claimants getting assistance from county healthcare programs, most of the time, still have to pay some amount for their healthcare needs. Even in these small amounts, it may be difficult for someone to ever repay what is owed. If you can work, and especially if you can work at a job with healthcare benefits, it would be best to continue to try and work and get to the doctor.
We help claimants throughout the United States fighting for their disability benefits. If you need to file, please feel free to contact our office at: (888) 780-9125.