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Disability Secrets and what the the SSA won't tell you

Did you ever wonder how some disability claimants seem to fly through the disability process while you flounder with your claim for years despite having the same health condition? Rest assured, there is nothing conspiratorial going on. Some claimants are simply better informed about the disability process and understand what the SSA needs to make a disability determination quickly the first time a claimant applies.

So what have you not been told? There aren’t really any “disability secrets,” assuming you know where to get the information. In fact, the SSA has reams of information online about making disability determinations, what conditions they think are disabling, and how they will make their disability decisions. Unfortunately, some of the information is confusing and difficult to understand, especially if you don’t have a medical degree. So what disability secrets do you need to know?


Disability Secrets and getting benefits

  1. Not all claimants will be awarded benefits.

One of the most common confusions about the SSDI program is that it is not an entitlement program. Yes, you may have been paying into the system, but claimants should view these contributions more like insurance premiums.

Think of car insurance. If you have been in a car accident you are not guaranteed that the insurance company will pay for your car. First, you will have to prove certain elements of your case and that your car is covered for the damage it has sustained.

If you apply for SSDI insurance you will also have to prove certain elements of your case:

  1. It could take years to get benefits.

The SSA offers a variety of optimistic timelines for reviewing claims, scheduling administrative hearings, etc., but the disability secret that no one really talks about is it really could take two years to get benefits (and that’s assuming you are approved).

  1. You cannot be working too much or making too much money when you apply.

Another disability secret that the SSA may not tell you is that you cannot be working or making too much money when you apply for benefits.

This requirement leads to a common question we often hear from claimants. “How do I quit my job and apply for benefits than wait up to two years to receive them?” This is a great question with no good answer. If you are working too much or making too much money you will be automatically denied SSDI benefits.

For example, if you apply and you are earning $1,090 or more a month from working ($1,820 for the blind) you will be automatically denied. You can also be denied if you are performing too many hours of work, regardless of whether the work is “gainful.” If you could be paid for the work, the SSA is likely to view the work as substantial gainful activity.

Bottom Line about disability secrets:

There may not be really be any disability secrets, but it can be very confusing to understand how to win SSDI benefits. Talk to a lawyer if you have questions about the process.
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