Understanding disability benefits through Social Security

A Missouri worker may wonder about what will happen in the event of a disabling injury or illness, and an understanding of the Social Security system might be helpful. An initiative has been launched by the agency to provide the public with a better understanding of Social Security disability benefits and common misconceptions. An estimated 9 million individuals receive benefits due to disability status, and the ages and backgrounds of these people can vary dramatically.

A definition of disability is important in determining eligibility, and the Social Security Administration is very strict in its application of this definition to individual cases. Neither temporary nor partial disability benefits are provided. This differs significantly from coverage that may be obtained in connection with workers' compensation or veterans' benefits. A condition must be serious enough to prevent an individual from working and must be expected to last for at least a year or result in an individual's death. Eligibility status may apply to people of varied ages and backgrounds, providing important assistance to individuals who have worked enough to be eligible.

Because the average benefit provided to an individual on disability through Social Security is approximately $1,100 per month, there may be a need to seek additional assistance if one becomes unexpectedly disabled. Community resources may be helpful in locating private programs and other financial assistance. Additional areas to consider include Medicare, Supplemental Security Income and prescription drug assistance.

In cases involving difficulties in obtaining disability status, legal assistance may be important. A lawyer may provide direction for securing the records and statements needed to properly demonstrate disability status in a manner suitable for meeting the standards of the Social Security Administration. Additionally, a lawyer may be able to provide information about related services and programs to assist an individual whose ability to work has been affected by injury or illness.

Source: Marshfield News-Herald, "Facts about Social Security Disability", Michelle McDougal, July 26, 2014

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