Mythbusters: Social Security Applications

If your health is so severely impaired that you cannot work, you may have considered applying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI), a federal program designed to provide long-term financial protection for those who’ve paid into the program as working adults.

If you’ve been reluctant to apply for SSDI because of horror stories about mountains of paperwork, denials, and long waiting periods for your first check, take heart: Many of these tales are simply myths. And help for the application process is available — much of it for free.

To help you sort the myths from the facts, the web site EveryDay Health consulted a Social Security spokesperson, a lawyer who handles Social Security disability cases, and a patient advocate. The bullet points here are worth noting:

Here’s the first Myth:

Myth: Why bother? I’ll just be denied.

Not true for everyone, says William (“BJ”) Jarrett, a spokesperson for the Social Security Administration. While Jarrett says standards are strict, and the process is rigorous, the SSA wants to be certain the person is truly disabled and unable to work. And the rejection rate is high, he says.

“The allowance rates for disability claims in fiscal year 2013, the most recent data available, was around 33 percent,” he says. That means 33 percent of the applications received in fiscal year 2013 were approved.

Many people appeal this first denial and ultimately prevail. If the administration later determines that you have a true, severe disability, they pay out. Read the full story at the link above for more myths.