Programs providing benefits for people with disabilities

When you suffer from disability and cannot continue working, a number of programs are available which can provide you with benefits that can cover your monthly and daily expenses as well as help you get back to working again.

Employer Sponsored Disability Insurance

Usually offered as among the benefits to attract would-be employees, these programs differ from one employer to another.

Generally, these are available with short-term or long-term coverage.  In some companies, premiums are fully shouldered by the employer. In others, the premium is available via discounted group rates.  There are also those that allow employees the flexibility in choosing their coverage. Still, there are those that provide free short-term coverage with the option to choose long-term at discounted rates.

Check with your human resources department what program your company has for you, what is the process for application, the requirements, eligibility, income limits, etc. See if your coverage is short or long-term and also verify how much of the cost you are shouldering. You should also find out the process when filing a claim.

State Disability Insurance Programs

New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Hawaii, and California have statutory programs that offer coverage to individuals for off the job injuries. Each program's details depend on the state. The covered individual pays into a program via salary deductions. Usually, a program is implemented by the same state office that handles unemployment insurance.

The following links provide more details (eligibility, requirements, how to apply, etc.) on each state's program:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program

This is also known as Title II benefits or Disability Insurance Benefits. SSDI benefits can be collected at any age unlike those benefits that can be collected during retirement.

SSDI definition of disability

  • You have to be unable to do the work you performed before the injury
  • You cannot do other kinds of work as a result of your condition
  • The disability has to last a minimum of one year.

The program's definition of disability is strict because it assumes that the family has other sources of support during short-term disabilities.

SSDI benefits

  • You get to receive monthly income regularly. This income is subject to annual increases to correspond to rising cost of living. A portion of this income may be tax-free.
  • You get Medicare benefits like hospital and medical benefits, prescription drug coverage, along with several advantage plans. You can enjoy this after twenty-four months of SSDI entitlement.
  • Extension of COBRA Benefits up to eleven months
  • Allows you to receive long-term disability benefits if you have private LTD insurance - private LTD policies usually require policyholders to get SSDI.
  • Protects your Social Security retirement benefits as the period of time you collect benefits under SSDI is not counted against your retirement.
  • Offers benefits to your eligible dependents.
  • Provides opportunities to resume working while at the same time pay you SSDI benefits.

SSDI eligibility requirements

  • You have to be less than 65 years old
  • You have to meet the Social Security's definition of disability.
  • In majority of the cases, you need a minimum of 20 SS credits which you earned the past ten years up to the year you suffered a disability. There are separate rules for younger workers and to blind individuals.
  • You need to satisfy the waiting period of five months; on the sixth month you start receiving benefits.

SSDI earning limits

U.S. federal law provides that individuals receiving SS benefits and have not reached retirement age, may receive their benefits in full as long as they fall under current earning limits.

For 2012, the earning limit is $14, 640. If this limit is exceeded, each $2 over it there is a corresponding $1 withheld from the amount to be received as benefits.

For individuals who have reached their full retirement age, the limit is $38,880. Here, for each $3 above the limit over the limit there is a corresponding $1 withheld from the amount to be received as benefits.

SSDI application process and other information

The steps on how to apply and what documents to submit are discussed in detail at http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

This is a government-implemented program, which provides supplemental income to the old and blind as well as to individuals with disabilities who earn little or have no earnings at all. The cash benefits provided by SSI can be used for food, shelter and clothing.

SSDI definitions

SSI Definition of Aged - someone who is sixty five years old or older.

SSI Definition of Blind - someone with 20/200 vision or less in their better eye using correction lens; someone with visual limitation in their better eye.

SSI Definition of Disabled - same as SSDI definition of disabled.

SSI benefits

Starting 1 January 2012, SSI benefits are:

  • for an individual, $698
  • for a couple, $1,048

SSI eligibility requirements

  • Meets SSI definitions of aged, blind or disabled
  • American citizen or resident alien with no active warrant for removal or deportation
  • Has limited resources and income
  • Has not been away from the U.S. for thirty days or more (consecutive)
  • Has applied for eligible payments or benefits like pension, SS benefits, etc.
  • Allows the SS to verify records with financial institutions

2012 SSI earning limits

For individuals with income coming solely from wages - $1,481

For individuals with income not coming from wages - $718

For couples with income coming solely from wages - $2,181

For couples with income not coming solely form wages - $1,068

SSI application process and other information

The steps on how to apply and related information are found in this link: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/ssi.htm

Workers' Compensation Insurance

Generally, states have laws that require businesses as well as state-government employers to provide Worker's Compensation Insurance. This type of insurance program provides coverage to workers who injure themselves while on the job. It also provides coverage to disabling illnesses that workers develop in relation to their duties at work.

How Workers Comp define injuries as work-related

Generally, state laws define injuries as work-related if they happen in connection with a worker's job. Causes can include sudden accidents (for example, equipment malfunction or a fall) or repeated physical activities (for example, lifting heavy loads). Illnesses aggravated by the condition of the workplace, for instance emphysema, may also be allowed coverage. Even work-related psychological stress may be covered.

Self-inflicted injuries done intentionally and those that are a result of substance abuse, are usually not covered.

Workers compensation benefits

  • Examples of benefits provided under state laws:
  • Reimbursement of medical expenses in relation to the disability
  • Monthly benefit equivalent to two-thirds of salary
  • Retraining program
  • Compensation to surviving beneficiaries if the covered employee dies at work

Workers compensation eligibility requirements

Generally, eligibility requirements are:

  • The employer must be implementing a workers' compensation insurance program or must required under the law to do so.
  • The worker must be employed by the company or business.
  • The illness or injury has to be in relation to the work.

State by state information on workers compensation disability insurance

For state level information, go to http://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/regs/compliance/wc.htm and click on your corresponding state.

Disability insurance benefits for U.S. veterans

This program is implemented by the Veterans Affairs department.

Definition of service-related injuries and conditions and eligibility

  • These occurred while the veterans was on active duty
  • The veteran's service-related injury, illness or disability was aggravated by active duty.
  • The veteran's discharge from service was under conditions not considered dishonorable.
  • The veteran has medical proof of his injury, illness or disability through physician's records, hospital records, or other medical records.

Benefits

  • Monthly income to eligible veterans and members of the branches of service who are at the minimum ten percent disabled.
  • Annual pension paid out on a monthly basis to those veterans 65 and above, who cannot work and whose income is limited.

Further information and how to apply

For detailed information and the application process, go to http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/compensation/

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