Understanding Social Security and disability benefits

Workers in Missouri may wonder about what will happen if they face disabling physical conditions that prevent them from continuing to work. It may be helpful to review information provided by the Social Security Administration so that benefits are understood long before there is a need to use them. The SSA has initiated a public awareness campaign to ensure that the public understands options and so that misconceptions are clarified.

An estimated 9 million individuals currently receive Social Security Disability benefits. It is important for someone considering applying for benefits to understand that definitions are very strict. The rules for eligibility under Social Security can be significantly different from those under private plans. Temporary conditions, for example, are not covered. Eligibility for SSD benefits is often contingent on a prognosis of more than a year of an individual being unable to work or the expectation that a condition will result in death. Additionally, an individual's inability to return to their previous area of work or adapt to a different type of work is important.

Workers may perceive that SSD benefits are mostly used by the elderly. However, it is estimated that 25 percent of young people in the work place will be disabled before reaching their retirement years. Social Security Disability Insurance provides a means of financial support in these circumstances. However, it is also important to recognize that 20 percent of those receiving benefits live at or below the poverty level. There are numerous community resources available to address the needs of those who deal with disabilities. In seeking benefits, it may be helpful to work with legal counsel.

A lawyer who has experience in this area of the law may provide assistance in assembling supporting documents and statements needed to demonstrate a client's eligibility for benefits. The lawyer may also help in addressing concerns as the application for benefits is filed.

Source: Wisconsin Rapids Tribune , "Disability Awareness: Facts about Social Security", July 19, 2014

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