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Social Security

  • Writer's pictureStephanie O. Joy, Esq.

Unable To Work? Invalid Reasons to NOT Apply for Social Security Disability (Part 1)

A multi-part series

Note: This article is for general information only and is not legal advice to any particular reader or individual. For legal advice, you must specifically retain a lawyer who evaluates your specific situation.

For Video version, please click HERE, for video found at the You Tube channel, “All Things Social Security”.

Many people in the many 50 states her in the United States of America have medical impairments that make their physical and/or mental functioning capacities far less than they were when they were, say a strapping 20-year-old. Many, as a result, can no longer work full time, but only part time or not at all. Some do not file for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for what may be “all the wrong reasons.” However, this choice, when uninformed, can be to their very damaging financial consequences, in both the short and long terms. This article series intends to inform generally, so everyone can make informed choices.


Video version:

________________________________________________________________________________________ Some of these uninformed bases for failing to file include:

1. I am not bedridden or wheel-chair bound, I can walk some, get around, live alone, etc. I am not eligible for SSDI.

2. I do not want a hand-out. I am not poor; I can get by without filing for this benefit thanks to my family and my savings.

3. I can’t work right now, but I think I will improve within a year or two at most, so there is no point.

4. I get Long Term Disability insurance payments from employment related policy – why should I file then?

5. I am on Workers Comp (or fighting for Workers Comp) and therefore I cannot file for SSDI until that is over.

6. I am working part time still, so I can’t.

7. I can always do it later, down the road…

8. I have no idea how to do it and don’t know how to start.

9. I can’t afford an SSDI lawyer.

And more…

These are most often entirely misguided and based on misinformation. Let’s go through them and see why, so if disability has happened in your family, or does in the future, you know what is possible, to meet your needs or goals. This article will be the first as we push through the wrong reasons. (If you need information now, based on the above, you can ask for free consultation on your situation by going to – just mention you read this here, or watched the related Video.

For starters, though, let’s make sure we are on the same page as to what Social Security Disability is.

Background – SSDI is disability insurance paid for by Workers, for Workers

You, the Worker in the United States of America, have paid the insurance premiums for SSDI, for many, many years (some before 18!) and you may have met the criteria for disability insurance coverage. Most young people are unaware that they have. (Those that didn’t work, or not in a long time, may not have paid up the premiums to be ever insured. But if not, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be an alternative program.)

Just like with any other insurance you purchased, why forego the coverage when you trigger it, when disability strikes? Why leave this family-preserving fund of money you already paid for, uncollected by yourself and your family? Why decline Medicare coverage you have paid for as a younger person not yet 65? If collecting SSDI for a short period of time, you are eligible for Medicare and do not have to wait until age 65.[3]

What SSDI is: SSDI is a federal disability insurance program for workers who become disabled (as defined by the Social Security laws), and their dependents who are eligible. It is not available for non-recent-workers because they have not paid in the premiums.

To be eligible to apply and have our application considered, we need to have purchased the SSD insurance – we pay for its premiums via compulsory Social Security (SS) tax. (It is not part of our income taxation by federal, state, or local governments but is in addition to that tax.) If we were employees with a year-end W2 each year, we have paid our SS taxes. If we were self-employed, and dutifully filed our returns, reporting our gross and net incomes after business expenses, and paid SE tax each year, we have paid our SS taxes.

Important! SSDI is NOT SSI (Supplemental Security Income). The latter is a welfare benefit that does not require paying into, while the former, SSDI, is Insurance the worker pays into with every paycheck starting in the beginning of each year, going forward (or via Quarterly Estimateds or year-end tax filings if self-employed). (See here for YouTube Video explaining differences between SSDI and SSI:

Legal Definition: The SSA’s definition of disability: “To meet [the] definition of disability, you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) [see here for what SGA is:] because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that is either:

  • Expected to result in death.

  • Has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.[1]

Fortunately, most people who qualify fall into the second kind of impairment.

So, the legal definition sounds daunting, but some basic knowledge of the regulations that clarify, are necessary for an understanding as to how most of those who should be able to secure SSDI, do. Stay tuned for explanation on why each of the aforementioned ‘bad’ reasons for avoiding filing for SSDI are, indeed, against your interests.

But let’s at least go over Bad Reason #1, above:

Bad Reason #1: I am not bedridden or wheel-chair bound, I can walk some, get around, live alone, etc. I am not eligible for SSDI.

I have been practicing Social Security Disability law, representing prior workers, for over 20 years (19 of which are exclusively SSDI representation). I have had an estimated three (yes, 3) bedridden clients. As such, nearly 100% of countless clients do not have disabilities that render them bedridden or even wheel-chair bound. The vast majority can drive a bit, shop a bit, keep their homes a bit, socialize a bit, and enjoy some hobbies. As you can see from the definition above, you do not need to prove you can do nothing, or that you are confined to a bed. Rather, you must prove that you have significant enough limitations that prevent full-time work. Being able to perform part-time work does not mean you are not disabled. Don’t get me wrong – it is not an easy feat! But that is true for nearly all disabilities. You do not prevail by simply proving you can no longer perform your old job full time. You must prove you cannot perform any of the 12,000+ occupations the SSA law relies on, that exist “in substantial numbers in the national or regional economies.” Yes, 12,000+ jobs.

This requires hefty current and ongoing medical evidence of a particular kind. It also requires a threading-of-the-needle to connect Department of Labor vocational demands for each occupation, with specific medical evidence; the medical evidence must proves that a particular task is non-performable for the time necessary to successfully perform that particular occupation. Multiply that detailed exercise by the 12,000+ jobs, successfully, and a claimant will prevail.[2]

Although daunting, millions of people who are not bedridden or wheelchair-bound, prevail on their applications when they proactively develop the medical and vocational evidence that proves the above in no uncertain terms.

So, with regard to Bad Reason #1 – it is not a reason for refraining from applying!

See the next edition of the Harmony for Bad Reason #2 and why you should not let it prevent you from applying for SSDI if the circumstances say otherwise.

[2] Social Security Disability practitioners have long disputed that the 12,000 occupations still exist, considering the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which the DOL/SSA relies on, hasn’t been updated since the late 1900s.

For consideration for Attorney SSD/SSI representation in an upcoming or pending SSDI/SSI disability claim, please fill out our free Attorney Evaluation form. We do NOT charge a retainer to serve you. If, on the other hand, you only seek an attorney level consultation/analysis of a particular situation, whether you are a company or an individual, or to discuss your own situation without representation, to learn information beyond that information you may obtain for free from the SSA itself, and you do not otherwise have a lawyer representing your before the SSA, you may order a scheduled consultation at affordable attorney rates. Contact the office at 201-317-0610 or email

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