In addition to the federal disability benefit programs—SSDI and SSI—there are many smaller programs that offer financial assistance to individuals who have disabilities. These can come in the form of state-wide programs, charities, and insurance programs. But how do these impact your eligibility for federal disability benefits? A recent visitor to our interactive disability forum, asked the following question
“I have private, long-term disability insurance. Will this help me be approved for benefits?”
Long-term disability insurance can be provided by an employer as a group plan or can be purchased by and tailored to an individual worker’s needs. This type of insurance is intended to cover the loss of income suffered when an employee becomes ill or injured for long periods of time. Long-term plans usually kick in after any short-term coverage ends—though the long-term coverage may only be available to an employee for a set amount of time.
Although Social Security Disability benefits are also intended to provide long-term financial assistance to individuals who have disabilities, these benefits are public and are administered by the Social Security Administration. These programs include Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Having private, long-term disability insurance will not provide any advantage when applying for Social Security Disability benefits because the Social Security Administration (SSA) bases program eligibility on its own separate, requirements. To be disabled according to the SSA you must meet the following criteria:
- You cannot do the work you did prior to becoming disabled; and
- You have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from learning to do any other types of work; and
- Your condition has lasted—or is expected to last—at least one year or result in death
If you do not meet these basic requirements, you will not be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits—even if you are eligible for private, long-term disability insurance. According to the Social Security Administration, “any private disability insurance you have will not affect your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits.”
While private insurance programs and disability benefits do not have any impact on each other, it is possible to receive payment from both at the same time. In many cases, when you receive private coverage, you will be required by that provider to also seek Social Security Disability benefits. This is often due to a clause in the long-term private insurance claim that allows for private insurance payments to be reduced and covered dollar-for-dollar by Social Security payments. It is important to note that if you are awarded retroactive benefits from the SSA, you may be required to repay any private disability insurance that you received at the time.
Learn more about insurance and Social Security Disability, here.
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