Two Misconceptions About Social Security Benefits
The Social Security Act of 1935 established a mechanism for providing annuity payments to retired workers 65 and older. This Act laid the foundation for the modern Social Security system.
The original program supplemented a retiree’s existing nest egg by providing small benefits. Its intent was never to subsidize most of a person’s post-work life. Through the years programs have been added that assist low income and disabled individuals. Disabled individuals’ spouses and children and even the surviving relatives of deceased individuals can receive benefits. Add to that a sharp increase in benefit amounts, and Social Security has become the country’s largest social program.
Proponents of the disability programs laud their contribution to the country’s well-being. Its critics, however, argue against both its perceived overpayments to the undeserving and its inconsistent claims approval process.
Common Social Security Benefits Myths
Below, we look at the two main misconceptions about Social Security benefits.
1. Social Security Retirement and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits are Free Handouts
This is not true.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a needs based program called Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which pays a small amount of money to the indigent. SSI is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury.
Social Security Retirement benefits and SSDI benefits are available to you because you pay your FICA taxes. In fact, your contributions to Social Security began with your very first paycheck.
The FICA taxes are taken from your paycheck to support an older generation of retirees and those with disabilities who cannot work as a result. At some point, you will also retire or may be unable to continue to work due to a disability. When that happens, the younger generations will be funding your benefits.
That is how the cycle works: you pay your dues to society and when the time comes, society pays you back. The benefits from Social Security Retirement and SSDI are not given to you for free – you earned those Social Security benefits in your younger years.
Typically, uninformed critics accuse the SSA of functioning like a charity.
While this remains a sore spot for those opposed to communal benefits, it is not easy to be declared disabled by the SSA. It is a lengthy and involved process performed by doctors and trained professionals of the SSA. It does not happen overnight, and the SSA does not award claims haphazardly.
2. You Cannot Appeal a Denial
This is not true.
Most people who apply for Social Security benefits fail in their first attempt. While this can be disheartening, the process is far from over if you are diligent. If you take the time to prepare and see the process through, your chances for approval increase significantly.
The first two levels of the appeals process, the Reconsideration and the Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), are the most common ones.
The Reconsideration is much like the initial application process. You will submit an appeal application and any supporting evidence that you may have to the SSA. After the SSA reviews your appeal they will either approve or deny you. If you are denied again, then you will submit your next appeal application.
It is important to note that SSA only gives you 60 days to file your appeal from the date on your denial letter.
At the hearing, you or your representative will present your case directly to an ALJ whose decision will either override the SSA’s previous verdicts or concur with them. Of course, there is no guarantee the SSA will approve your claim after a second attempt. However, it is at the hearing where the claimant’s fortunes change for the better. An ALJ’s decision to award you benefits typically increases when you have professional representation at the hearing.
Avoid Other Misconceptions About Social Security Benefits
Fighting a Social Security benefits application denial can be difficult – both logistically and emotionally. However, do not let misconceptions about Social Security benefits mislead you. You can and should appeal a denial, and the good news is that we are here to help.
At Disability Support Services, we retain a team of legal professionals qualified to review your application and present your case to the SSA. Our goal is to help you. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.