Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Common Pitfalls

Not knowing which Social Security benefits you get

Social Security has two disability benefits programs with very similar names:

Some people qualify for both programs at the same time. If you get benefits from Social Security, but aren’t sure which ones you get, open a free my Social Security account or order a free Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213 or 1-800-325-0778 (TTY).

Not reporting your earnings

You need to report your earnings to Social Security and your local Division of Public Assistance (DPA) office. If you don’t, you may get benefits that you shouldn’t. This is called an overpayment and you may have to pay those benefits back.

To report changes, contact your local Social Security office and ask how and when you should report your earnings. You may be able to report:

Note: If you get SSDI benefits and also get Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, you must report your income to SSDI and SSI separately. Learn more about SSI income reporting in DB101's SSI and APA article.

Note: Due to COVID-19, there may be limits on in-person services. Contact your agency by phone to ask about this.

Lack of documentation

The better you document your medical condition, the easier it is to support a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Documenting in a daily medical journal can be helpful. If you can't make the journal entries yourself, a friend or relative can help you. This journal can also inform providers about your medical condition.

Once you are getting benefits, you should also get a binder and keep copies of all of your records from the last five years in it, including:

Take your binder with you whenever you go to a Social Security office, and take notes in it every time you communicate with Social Security.

Not sharing information with your medical provider

Clearly discuss your plans to apply for benefits with your doctors and other medical providers. You and your medical providers should work together to figure out the extent of your disability and how long it will last. By being open with your doctors, you can make sure your application for benefits accurately reflects how long you have had your disability and how it affects your life.

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