Social Security Disability vs. Long-term Disability Insurance

Q: Do I need Long-term Disability insurance if there is Social Security Disability insurance?

No one wants to think about becoming disabled and being unable to provide for yourself or your family financially, because the prospect is frightening and applying for long-term disability benefits is complicated. However, 1 in 4 people will suffer a long-term disability during their lifetime and the average length of a long-term disability is 2 1/2 years. Can any among us survive financially with medical bills and no income for 30 consecutive months?

Arizona disability insurance attorneys are knowledgeable in all aspects of Long-term Disability (“LTD”) insurance as well as Social Security Disability (“SSDI”) insurance and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) programs and can help with filing and appealing denials of all of these benefits.  

Some employees have Short-term Disability (“STD”) insurance and/or LTD through their employers. If you become disabled and can’t do your job, STD insurance generally covers you during the first 30 to 120 days. LTD generally kicks in after STD insurance is exhausted and may last a number of years or through retirement age, depending on the policy’s terms. If it’s not offered through an employer, workers can purchase their own LTD policy, but STD policies can’t be purchased privately, so building a nest-egg to cover the initial disability period is advisable if possible.

SSDI and SSI are two very different government programs designed to financially assist the disabled. While they are similar in defining what constitutes “disabled”, the other program qualifications differ. In a nutshell, SSDI benefits are work – based, meaning they are only available to people who have worked and paid into the Social Security system for the required number of years and hours before becoming disabled. In contrast, SSI benefits are means– based and are generally available to those with extremely limited financial resources and who are of advanced age or disabled. Some people qualify for both SSDI and SSI benefits.

The government’s definition of “disabled” for purposes of qualifying for SSDI or SSI is as follows: “a person is disabled if here she suffers from a physical or mental impairment that prevents engaging in substantial gainful activities and that has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 months or more or result in death.”  LTD policies may define “disabled” differently.  And many LTD policies require the holder to apply for SSDI and/or SSI and may then reduce the percentage of LTD benefits if government benefits are granted. SSDI and SSI benefits are not guaranteed and, even if received, may be less than the amount available through a customizable LTD policy.

Both LTD claims and SSDI/SSI claims involve submitting often-complicated and extensive medical and other documentation and can take months in the best-case scenario or even years, depending on the appeals process. That’s why many hire a skilled disability attorney who understands the process and can often expedite moving a claim through the system.

If you or a loved one is disabled and needs assistance filing an initial claim for or appealing a denial of Social Security disability or long-term disability benefits, Roeschke Law can help you. Call us today at 800-975-1866 for a free consultation. From our offices in Phoenix, Tempe, and Tucson, we fight to get disabled clients throughout Arizona the benefits they deserve.