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Long-term disability do I have to apply for SSDI?

Recently on our SSDI forum a user asked, “I am receiving benefits from a private long-term disability insurance (LTDI) policy, and I was surprised when they contacted me and informed me that I was also required to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Is this standard practice and do I have to do this?”

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Long-term disability benefits and applying for SSDI benefits


Most long-term disability insurance policies have incorporated language into their policy agreement which require participants to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they are receiving long-term disability insurance benefits.

The reason is really quite simply: money. The long-term insurance provider is allowed to offset your LTDI benefits if you are receiving money from the federal government through SSDI. Obviously, this creates quite an incentive for the insurance company who can save a great deal of money paying out less for the insurance policy.

Benefits of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The good news is that there may actually be some benefit for you, despite the hassle of trying to get SSDI. First, the insurance company often provides free legal counsel to help insurance claimants apply and win SSDI benefits.

Next, assuming you qualify for SSDI benefits, you will eventually also receive Medicare. SSDI benefits may also offer additional benefits for your dependent children and qualifying spouses.

Finally, if you are not approved for long-term disability benefits you may still qualify for SSDI benefits, and if you appeal your long-term disability denial the fact you are receiving SSDI benefits may help your case.

What if I do not apply for SSDI benefits?

Unfortunately, per your long-term disability contract, the insurance company may have the right to reduce your long-term disability benefits if you refuse or fail to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

This can be especially troublesome given the difficulty many claimants have applying for SSDI. With more than a million SSDI and SSI applicants each year the Social Security Administration is overwhelmed with applications, making it unlikely you will get much help. But, as mentioned above, the legal counsel offered by the insurance company may be able to help you overcome some of the hurdles.

What if I was injured on the job?

Another common issue for long-term disability recipients is workers compensation. Claimants injured on the job who are receiving long-term disability insurance are also generally required to apply for workers’ compensation benefits.

As with SSDI, if you do receive workers’ compensation benefits for your work injury the long-term insurance company is also legally allowed to reduce your long-term insurance benefits.

Bottom line:

Long-term insurance companies generally include contractual obligations for recipients to also apply for other disability programs offered by the SSA or through workers’ compensation insurance. It’s important to thoroughly review your long-term insurance contract prior to purchasing a policy and make sure you understand the requirements.

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