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What is Social Security Disability?


Different resources and options may be available to workers who have been injured while on the job or suffered an occupational illness. Workers who have suffered a debilitating injury or illness that may prevent them from working for a period of time longer than a typical workers' compensation claim may wonder what resources and options are available to them.

Workplace injuries and illnesses can, unfortunately, sometimes result in permanent or long-term disability. Social Security Disability benefits are available for individuals who suffer from a medical condition that is expected to last longer than a year or end in death. Social Security Disability benefits aren't available for short-term or partial disability. To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, workers must also meet a work test demonstrating they have worked long enough to receive benefits.

For a worker to be considered disabled, the medical condition the worker suffers from must be considered severe. To meet the severity requirement, and be considered disabled, the medical condition must either be on the Social Security Administration's (SSA) List of Impairments or must limit the worker's ability to complete basic work-related tasks such as sitting, walking and remembering. The worker's ability to perform the same type of work they performed previously, or ability to complete other tasks, will also be considered when determining the severity of the medical condition and disability.

There is an appeals process if the worker is unhappy with the outcome following the SSA's determination. Research reveals that a worker who is 20 years of age has a one in four chance of being disabled prior to reaching full retirement age. Receiving much-needed benefits following a work-related injury or illness can sometimes be challenging and it is important not to rule out any available options until all options have been considered. The application and appeals processes for Social Security Disability benefits can be lengthy, time consuming and complex which is why it can be helpful to understand how to navigate the process of applying for benefits.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability Benefits," accessed on Feb. 9, 2015

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