The subtle advance of a disability

For some, a disability strikes as a catastrophic injury or illness that leaves them no longer able to work. A paralyzing car accident or massive stroke. But for many, their disability creeps up on them, in small, seemingly unrelated incidents. While in your 20s, you injure your back, or break a bone in your leg or arm. That heals, but perhaps that healing is incomplete due to lack of healthcare coverage, or because you do not believe it to be very serious.

A few years later, you suffer a similar, but unrelated injury. By the time you are in your late 40s or early 50s, you have a broad array of symptoms, stemming from multiple injuries received during the years of your working life. You never planned for this, and it certainly was not expected, but now you find yourself attempting to apply for Social Security Disability.

A recent study finds you are not alone. The research examined applications for SSD benefits and the earnings of those individuals in the years prior to their applying for these benefits. For many conditions, such as those involving muscles or degenerative back disorders, earnings declines typically occurred during a five-year period.

If your medical condition began to impair your ability to work five or more years ago, you may have had little thought as to the potential for becoming disabled. You may have believed that you would improve and that you could recover from a year or two with reduced income.

As this report indicates, that may not happen, and your income could continue to decline as your condition worsens. If nothing else, it suggests that you should always keep all of your medical records, prescriptions, and documentation of injuries or treatment in an organized and systematic form, as this will all be useful if you should need to apply for SSD benefits.

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