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Debunking a few of the myths about disability benefits

As we've discussed on our blog, the Social Security Disability Insurance program plays an invaluable role for disabled workers and their dependents, providing them with a much-needed mechanism for replacing some of their lost income.

Unfortunately, there are many myths out there that can cause people to not only overlook this reality, but also harbor altogether negative perceptions of the SSDI program. In today's post, we'll take a look at a couple of these longstanding myths and attempt to debunk them once and for all.

Myth #1: Anyone can get disability benefits

In order to secure disability benefits, a person must satisfy the following rigorous standards:

  • They must be suffering from a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is projected to last, for at least a year or in death.
  • They must be prevented from doing the work they've performed in the past or from adjusting to new work thanks to this severe medical condition.

Statistics from the Social Security Administration show that the recipients of disability benefits are over three times more likely to die in a year than people in their same age group. Furthermore, they also show that one-in-seven women and one-in-five men who start receiving disability benefits at the age of 55 will ultimately die within five years of being diagnosed with their disability.

In light of numbers like these and the exacting eligibility criteria set forth by the SSA, it becomes clear that not just anyone secures disability benefits.

Myth 2: People collect too much under the SSDI program

The average monthly disability benefit at the start of this year was $1,165. Doing the math, this amounts to $11,670 for the year, just barely enough to keep a disability recipient above the 2014 poverty line.

It's important to understand that for many people, even these modest disability benefits represent the majority of their income and make a major difference in their lives, enabling them to cover basic living expenses.

Here's hoping that the following helped debunk some of these popular misconceptions about Social Security disability benefits and, perhaps more importantly, convinced people who might otherwise qualify for benefits to put aside their own reservations.

Source: Social Security Administration, "The facts about Social Security's disability program," Accessed March 5, 2015

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