Every year, about 5% of American workers face a temporary disability of six months or less. Their reasons can include pregnancy, injury, physical illness or mental illness, but the common factor is that their condition makes it impossible for them to earn a living the same way they previously did.
Depending on the circumstances, these workers may be able to rely on private insurance or public benefits programs to help cover their expenses during this time. For instance, if a Texan worker is injured on the job, they should be able to rely on their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance to cover their medical costs and provide them with some income. If their condition is not work-related, they may be able to rely upon short-term disability insurance.
If no insurance policy or public benefits program applies, they may find themselves in trouble. Many Texans live paycheck to paycheck, and even a relatively short period of disability can lead to financial disaster.
So far, we have been talking about periods of disability that last six months or less. Sadly, many workers experience disability that lasts longer than that. The top reasons include musculoskeletal disorders, cancer and serious injuries.
As with short-term disability, there may be help available for some of these workers, but the help won’t necessarily come in the same forms. Workers’ compensation benefits cut off after a certain point, as do short-term disability insurance policies.
Social Security Disability
Social Security Disability Insurance is a federal program that can provide benefits for eligible workers who have a disabling condition that is expected to last a year or more. For those whose applications are accepted, the program can provide much-needed income, but this income is much less than they received while they were working.
Some workers supplement their SSD benefits with their own long-term disability policies. This may help, but SSD takes an offset for those who have other forms of insurance, meaning that the person won’t receive the full amount in SSD benefits that they might otherwise get.
When disputes arise
While SSD benefits and long-term disability insurance can be lifesavers for workers who have become disabled, both paths can be difficult.
It isn’t easy to quality for SSD benefits and most applicants are rejected the first time they try. They must go through the Social Security Administration’s appeals process, which can be time-consuming and difficult.
Private and employer-provided long-term disability insurance can also be difficult. Insurance companies have a financial incentive to pay less than a disabled worker deserves.
For disabled workers to get the full amount they need, they may have to fight. Of course, people who are suffering from illness or injury may not feel capable of fighting for what they deserve. Fortunately, they can seek out help from professionals with experience in disability insurance law.