When most people think of Social Security, they think of the retirement program: Pay into it for the forty years or so you’re in the workforce, and you’re guaranteed a certain level of income at retirement. But the disability portion of the program is a vital social net for workers who find that, because of long-term illness or a disabling injury, they are no longer able to work. According to a government website, a worker at the age of twenty has a three in ten chance of suffering a disabling illness or injury between now and retirement.
The federal government defines a disability as an illness or injury that is expected to last a year or more, or that is determined to be terminal. If you meet the physical criteria, you have to pass a financial test; owning certain assets is acceptable, while others are not. It can be tough getting acceptance for a federal disability claim; over 80 percent of claims are initially rejected. Luckily, the social security administration also has a system for appealing claims, so appealing a negative result is definitely worthwhile—the final acceptance rate for disability claims is between 40 and 63 percent.
If you find yourself out of work because of a long-term illness or injury, you definitely need to consider filing a claim for federal benefits. The process can be complex, so you may want to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in disability claims. He or she can lead you through the process and help you get your documentation together, and very possibly will raise your chances of ultimately succeeding in your claim.
Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire. She has written numerous articles for local and regional newspapers and for a number of Internet websites, including Tips and Topics. She expresses her opinions periodically on her blog, http://beyondagendas.blogspot.com .