Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a crucial program that helps many Americans with debilitating medical conditions or long-term injuries pay their bills and live independently thanks to monthly cash benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Like most government benefits, there are many restrictions governing the SSDI program to prevent fraud and misuse by people who don’t truly need the assistance. Unfortunately, those rules can sometimes become barriers for people who legitimately need SSDI benefits to make ends meet.
If you are still unsure about what you can and cannot do while applying for or receiving federal disability benefits, the disability experts at the law firm of Gade & Parekh, LLP, in Sacramento can be an excellent resource for keeping your SSDI claim on track.
Top Things to Avoid While on SSDI Benefits (Or While Applying For Them)
- Making Too Much MoneyOne critical part of the SSDI process that some claimants fail to understand is “SGA,” or Substantial Gainful Activity. This is a dollar amount threshold set by the SSA and adjusted each year for inflation and other factors. Although the SGA has nothing to do with your disability or the severity thereof, it may be the single largest determining factor in SSDI claims being denied.If you make more than the SGA in a month, your claim will be denied on the basis that you are demonstrating the ability to support yourself. The SGA limit for 2022 is set at $1,350 per month, which represents a 5.9% cost of living increase over the 2021 SGA. This means that the opportunities to earn your own income will be extremely limited if you choose to pursue SSDI benefits.However, investment income will not count towards the SGA limit, so if you have assets in stocks or bonds, they should not be a factor in the SSA’s determination process. Note that the SGA limit is higher for applicants who are blind.
- Not Cooperating With the Social Security AdministrationThe claims process for SSDI benefits will require you to work closely with the SSA’s officials, and this means being responsive and available. At a minimum, you must ensure that the SSA has an up-to-date address and phone number so that they can contact you about the process. You will likely need to attend special medical appointments and tests to prove the existence and severity of your disability. This will entail special consultations with SSA-approved doctors who work outside of your home medical system. You must be willing and able to meet the SSA’s requirements if you wish to have your claim approved and receive SSDI benefits.If the nature of your disability makes it difficult to commit to this level of involvement in the process, working with a disability expert from Gade & Parekh, LLP, can help take some of the weight off your shoulders. Our experienced attorneys can navigate the SSA’s processes, speed up the claims process, and keep your case on track for success while you focus on your life.
- Not Having a Debilitating DisabilityTo be eligible for SSDI benefits, the officials at the SSA’s Disability Determination Services (DDS) must conclude that your disability is severe enough to last a minimum of 12 months (or that it is likely to directly result in your death). Each claim is evaluated on a case-by-case basis due to the highly individual nature of every illness, injury, and the human body. While this detailed level of attention is necessary to safeguard the Social Security program against abuse and fraud, it can also make it difficult for disabled people who need SSDI support to survive. A relationship with the disability team at Gade & Parekh, LLP, of Sacramento, can help expedite the process and keep your claim on track.
- Not Listening to Your DoctorYou must follow your doctor’s orders if you want your SSDI claim to be successful. This can mean any number of things, such as taking prescribed medication, enacting dietary restrictions and lifestyle changes, and attending all therapy sessions that are scheduled for you. You need to discuss any concerns or problems with any treatments that have been prescribed for you with your doctor. If you refuse to follow your doctor’s advice, the SSA officials can take this as an indication that your disability is not severe enough to warrant SSDI benefits.There are a few valid exemptions to this rule, such as if you have a mental illness that makes it difficult to follow your doctor’s advice, you have an extreme phobia of surgeries or other treatments, or your disability makes it mechanically impossible to perform prescribed therapy activities. In general, however, you must follow your doctor’s prescribed regimen to the letter for your best chance at receiving SSDI benefits.
- Abusing Drugs or AlcoholThe SSA will almost always deny claims where the disability is rooted in drug addiction or alcoholism issues. Even if your disability has nothing to do with drugs or alcohol, it is likely that the SSA will take it as an indicator that your disability is not severe enough for SSDI.
- Breaking the LawCertain felons and prisoners are also ineligible for SSDI benefits.
Q: What Are the Cons of Being on Disability?
A: For most people, one of the biggest downsides to being on SSDI benefits is the income limit. To remain on SSDI, you are not able to make more than the SGA, or Substantial Gainful Activity, threshold each month. Currently, this value is set at $1,350. This means that most people on SSDI can only work extremely limited hours at low-income positions.
Q: What Will Cause Your Social Security Disability Benefits to Stop?
A: Any activity or circumstance that causes you to no longer meet the criteria for receiving SSDI can cause the payments to stop. Many of the most common issues are discussed above and can range from your income level to your criminal record. Most often, disqualifying factors will be directly related to the severity of your disability and your ability to provide for yourself.
Q: Can They Take Away My Social Security Disability?
A: Yes. The Social Security Administration regularly reviews SSDI cases to make sure benefits are going only to those who need them. If you feel your benefits have been wrongfully discontinued, it may be advisable to contact a qualified attorney before engaging further with the Social Security Administration or their agents.
Q: What Can I Spend Social Security Disability On?
A: Because SSDI is a cash benefit, there are no real restrictions on how it can be used. Many people on SSDI put the benefits towards housing costs, medical expenses, food, and other day-to-day needs. The program does stipulate that SSDI benefits are not to be used towards anything illicit, such as purchasing illegal drugs.
Gade & Parekh, LLP: California’s Trusted Partner for the SSDI Process
If you’re concerned about losing your SSDI benefits, the disability experts at Gade & Parekh, LLP, of Sacramento are ready to help. Contact us today for a no-obligation review of your case.