A long-term disability is any medical condition that prevents you from working for an extended period of time. When you have a long-term disability, you may be eligible for long-term disability insurance benefits and/or Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.
If you have developed a medical condition that stops you from working, you may qualify for long-term disability.
The length of time you must be disabled to qualify for benefits depends upon the type of benefits you are applying for. For SSD benefits, your medical condition must be permanent or expected to last for at least a year. However, many people are also covered for long-term disability by an insurance policy, either through your employer or from a private policy. If so, those benefits may pick up where short-term disability benefits leave off, typically after three to six months.
Long-Term vs Short-Term Disability
Different medical conditions take different amounts of time to heal. If you sprain your ankle, you may have to miss a couple of weeks from your job waiting tables. Hospitalization and surgery after a car accident might leave you unable to work for two or three months. These are short-term disabilities. You are out of work for a while, but your condition is expected to heal so you can go back to work.
SSD benefits from the federal government apply only to long-term disabilities, not short-term ones. You will need to prove you have a disability, and that it is expected to last a year or more (or be terminal), to qualify.
What does it mean to have a condition that prevents you from working?
To get any kind of long term disability benefits, you must have medical condition that’s serious enough to prevent you from working. There are some conditions (such as late stage cancer) that can be automatically approved for benefits. But most of the time, you will need to prove that your condition is serious enough to qualify. You will typically need medical records and an opinion from your doctor about the severity of your condition and how it affects your ability to work.
The other rules, however, depend on whether you are seeking federal SSD benefits or benefits from a private insurance policy:
- Federal SSD benefits. You should know that SSD benefits are only available to people who are totally disabled. This means that you can’t do your usual job orany other job that you might be qualified to do. For example, a heart condition might prevent you from performing strenuous labor in your construction job, but you might not be totally disabled if you can still hold a job as an office worker or cashier. This would mean you would not qualify for SSD benefits.
- Private insurance. Disability insurance policies uses a different set of criteria to decide whether your disability is serious enough to qualify for benefits. An “own occupation” policy pays benefits if you are unable to work in your usual occupation. In the example above, if you can’t work construction anymore, you are eligible for benefits. An “any occupation” policy uses criteria more similar to SSD, and only pays benefits if you cannot hold any job that you might be able to get, considering your education, training and experience. And some policies switch from “own occupation” coverage to “any occupation” coverage after a certain period of time.
If you do qualify for disability benefits through insurance, you will typically receive about 50-80 percent of your usual pay. Most insurance companies will also require you to apply for SSD from the government, since the SSD benefits can offset the amount of money the insurance company must pay.
What should I do if I’m dealing with a long-term disability?
A long-term disability can leave you struggling to pay the bills, support your family and afford the medical treatment you need. And applying and getting approved for benefits can be a long, difficult process. You need to talk to a lawyer. A good lawyer can improve your chances of approval, and, if you were injured, can advise you on whether you have a personal injury claim.
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.