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.
While many Missouri residents may think of Social Security primarily in terms of retirement benefits, the disability benefits are also quite important. Social Security has been in place for approximately 80 years, designed to help individuals deal with the challenges of life. The program was expanded to include disability coverage in the mid-1950s. Approximately 91 percent of U.S. citizens who have not yet reached retirement age but who are old enough to be in the workforce are covered. The insurance provided is equivalent to a nearly $600,000 insurance policy.
Those who are facing a long-term injury or disability that will make it difficult or impossible to work may qualify for Social Security Disability payments. However, it can be difficult to qualify and strict rules apply for those who do send in an application for disability payments. For example, the injury must last for more than one year or until the applicant dies. In addition, the applicant must be under his or her full retirement age.
Being disabled can put extreme limitations on what a person can do when it comes to earning a living. Workers who are injured on the job and are no longer able to work make up a substantial portion of people who claim disability in Missouri. In addition to state workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits to help them pay for their medical expenses and cost of living. However, being approved for SSDI benefits is not an easy process.
Becoming qualified and enrolled in the Social Security disability program can often be a lengthy process. Prospective applicants in St. Louis are often required to submit a virtual mountain of paperwork substantiating their need for Social Security disability benefits for injury, illness, or a mental condition. For most who have to go through this process, their qualification for benefits brings a welcome relief. Yet it should be remembered that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are usually not meant to be permanent, and thus one’s eligibility status is often brought up for review. Yet even those who continually meet benefit qualifications still aren’t immune to unexpected changes in their benefit status.
For countless people in St. Louis and millions of others across the country, the benefits received from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) represent their only means of support immediately following a brain, neck, or back injury that inhibits them from working. Yet one must still remember that this program was not designed for long-term participation; recipients are only supposed to receive benefits while not being able to work. Once one is again able to work and support him or herself, he or she should contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) immediately to terminate benefits. Failure to do so can land one in hot water with the SSA.
For those in St. Louis unable to work due to a serious injury or illness, or those families supporting a family member who is disabled, the benefits received through either Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide a welcome financial relief every month. Yet those who may think that this assistance allows recipients to live extravagantly need to think again; research has actually shown that those receiving SSD or SSI benefits are still more likely to face homelessness or declare personal bankruptcy than the rest of the general population. That’s because SSD/SSI benefits do not fully replace work income, but rather provide a predetermined amount of funds to help sustain one until the assistance is no longer required.
While Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits currently assist many in St. Louis and across the U.S. that are either unable to work or forced to care for another that is permanently disabled, there are still many out there that are in need of such assistance, yet for some reason are unable to qualify. Critics of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) qualification guidelines say that they are far too strict, denying families who genuinely need the assistance. Yet SSD proponents point to the potential opportunities for fraud and the SSA's ability to thus far accurately distribute payments to qualified beneficiaries as proof enough that current guidelines work.
Very few people in St. Louis anticipate ever being in a position where they can't work to support themselves and their family. They're accustomed to working through minor injuries and/or pain, and believe that no matter what the injury is that they sustain, they'll be able to overcome it and continue working in the same manner that they always have.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) was originally created to provide income for those in St. Louis whose earning potential is impacted either by retirement or disability. While a majority of the funds coming in from payroll taxes is currently allocated to the SSA’s retirement program, changes may be needed to increase the allocation going to the disability program to avoid the need for drastic cuts to those benefits that may be needed as soon as 2016.