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Short-term disability and the SSA

Where's my short-term disability payment?

One of the most common questions and misunderstandings about disability benefits offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is that they are offered for short-term disabilities. Recently on our disability forum we had a disability applicant ask, “How can I get short-term disability benefits?”

Short-term disability and the Social Security Administration

The most straightforward answer is that the SSA does not offer any type of short-term or temporary disability benefits. Neither Supplemental Security Income (SSI) nor Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is offered for conditions which are NOT expected to last for at least 12 continuous months.

So if your condition is not going to last at least 12 continuous months or you cannot prove that your condition will last 12 continuous months you will be automatically denied SSDI or SSI benefits.

Short-term disability options

The truth of the matter is for most applicants who have a short-term condition need immediate relief, which is something the SSA does not offer. Over 3 million disability applicants applied for SSDI and SSI last year. If your condition is not expected to last 12 months than you will be healed and well on your way back to work before you would receive any payments because the processing time for SSA disability right now takes months or years.

So what are you supposed to do for a short-term disability? We’ll talk in ideals for this discussion. The expectation is that as you are working you are saving a certain amount of your income in what many financial experts call a “rainy-day fund.” This means that you need to save approximately 6 to 9 months of your salary in a savings account or easily accessible fund that you can withdraw from if at some point you become unable to work. That’s the first step.

Next, hopefully you would have a job that might provide some type of short-term disability benefits. Or if you are injured on the job, for example, you would be offered workers compensation benefits that would help sustain your family through a temporary state of injury.

Other legal means allow for compensation if you are injured due to another person’s negligence. For instance, if you are injured in a severe car accident you may receive compensation under a car insurance policy or through a personal injury lawsuit. Within that compensation package you would be paid monies for lost wages.

The bottom line is that the government is not responsible for giving you short-term disability benefits. You, the individual, must take the proper steps BEFORE you are injured or ill to make sure you and your family are cared for in the event of a medical emergency.

Money may be tight but saving $20 to $50 per month in an “emergency fund” is critical. Eliminate all necessary expenditures until you have taken this simple step and you won’t need to ask what the government will do for you if you become sick or injured because you will have already done what you needed to do for yourself.
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