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Sick, cannot work what are my options?

Millions of workers become seriously sick or injured and cannot perform full-time employment. If you have been working and paying employment taxes you will have several options. Recently on our disability forum a user asked, “If I am sick and unable to work what are my options for getting disability benefits?”

Benefits offered by the Social Security Administration to those who are sick


The Social Security Administration offers two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI). To qualify for benefits for a disability for either program you must prove the following:

1. You are sick and have a severe health condition which is expected to last for 12 continuous months or result in your death.
2. You are not working or performing substantial gainful activity.
3. Your condition is so severe it meets or equals a listing on the SSA Listing of Impairments or you are not able to work your current job or retrain for any type of work.

If you have been working and paying employment taxes you need to check with the Social Security Administration and verify whether you have sufficient work credits to be insured for SSDI benefits. SSDI benefits are only offered to insured workers. If you do not have enough work credits you will be denied SSDI benefits regardless of the severity of your health condition.

What if you do not have enough work credits for SSDI?


If you do not have enough work credits for SSDI benefits you can see if you qualify for SSI or Supplemental Security Income. SSI applicants must meet the disability requirements listed above, but they also must prove they have limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI benefits, however, SSI applicants do not have to have work credits or a work history to qualify.

Why is SSDI better than SSI?


SSDI benefits generally offer a higher benefit payout than SSI benefits. SSDI recipients will also qualify for Medicare rather than Medicaid, which may allow better access to certain doctors or hospitals.

Why would I not qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits?


There are some applicants who will be denied for both SSDI benefits and SSI benefits. For instance, if you meet the disability requirements but you lack sufficient work credits, you can be denied SSDI benefits. In this case you might decide to apply for SSI benefits only to find your income and resource level is too high for SSI benefits.

This commonly occurs for applicants who have worked as a homemaker within the home for several years and do not have enough work credits to be insured for SSDI benefits but whose husband or wife makes too much money for them to qualify for SSI benefits. Under this condition this applicant would not qualify for any disability benefit offered by the federal government regardless of how sick they are.
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