What is the Difference Between SSDI and Long-Term Disability in Pennsylvania?

When people say that they’re going on “disability,” what specific program are they talking about?  Disability benefits can come from a wide range of programs.  Typically, short-term disability benefits come from employment benefits, but long-term benefits are usually paid by one of two programs: long-term disability insurance at work or SSDI.

SSDI is the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability insurance program for workers across the country.  Your Social Security taxes fund this program, and if you become disabled, you can apply for benefits.  Long-term disability, on the other hand, is usually provided through employment benefits or a private insurance policy.

If you are considering applying for disability benefits, call the Pennsylvania disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates.  Call us today at (215) 515-2954 for a free case evaluation.

What Is SSDI?

SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance.  As mentioned, SSDI is the main disability insurance program provided across the U.S. by the SSA.  The benefits are funded by Social Security taxes, which everyone pays as part of their job.  These benefits are funded through the same taxes and paid through the same administration as retirement benefits.  But instead of getting reduced retirement benefits if you draw on these funds before retirement age, SSDI allows you to get benefits at the full rate when you need them.

These payments are typically used to cover things like housing costs, medical fees, and day-to-day expenses such as gas and groceries.  In many cases, these benefits are not enough to provide for the recipient and their whole family’s needs, so many people on disability have to contend with restrictions on part-time jobs or get financial help from others in their family.  This system is also notoriously difficult to apply to and can take a long time – but with help from an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, you have a better chance of getting your benefits.

SSDI is a long-term program.  People can only apply to SSDI with disabilities that are expected to last for longer than a year or last the rest of the patient’s life.  This means SSDI covers things like cancer, MS, and ALS as well as things like permanent paralysis from an injury.

Do I Have SSDI in Pennsylvania?

The good thing about SSDI is that everyone has access to this program in the U.S. – or at least access to a similar system called SSI.  Your ability to use SSDI is based on your work history.  If you worked and paid Social Security taxes, you likely have enough “work credits” to support a claim under SSDI.  If you were disabled before turning 22, you might be able to use a parent’s work history instead.

People who have not had a job for very long – such as young adults or stay-at-home spouses – might not qualify for SSDI.  However, SSI – Supplemental Security Income – also provides disability benefits to disabled people who can demonstrate need and do not qualify for SSDI.

What Is Long-Term Disability?

“Long-term” disability benefits are often paid by private insurance companies.  Many workers get long-term disability benefits as part of their benefits package at work.  Along with short-term disability coverage, long-term disability benefits can help a worker who was injured either at work or outside of work.  This coverage can pay replacement wages while they heal from injuries or health conditions.

All employers are required to provide workers’ compensation coverage in Pennsylvania.  This is a separate program that covers work-related injuries and illnesses only.  Long-term disability can often cover things that happen outside of work as well as health conditions you develop.

For an injury or illness to qualify as “long-term” (as opposed to “short-term”), your policy will usually have a cut-off point.  This is commonly set at 26 weeks (just over 6 months).  Anything under that might qualify for short-term disability benefits if you have those benefits alongside your long-term disability benefits.

Do I Have Long-Term Disability Benefits?

To determine whether you have long-term disability, you’ll need to speak with your company’s HR department or look at the information provided to you about your employment benefits package.  Often, long-term disability benefits are not something that healthy or young workers think about when taking a job.  Some might be disappointed to find out that their company does not provide these benefits or that there was an opt-in/opt-out period when they started their job that left them without coverage.

Individuals can also get a disability insurance policy to cover long-term or short-term disabilities, but this is usually quite expensive and not something most people do on their own.  Instead, most benefits are provided through an employer.

Applying for SSDI vs. Long-Term Disability in Pennsylvania

When you apply for SSDI, you file your application with the Social Security Administration.  This is a government agency, and that means it often works quite slowly.  It is always best to have an experienced Pennsylvania SSDI lawyer review your application before you submit it, as there may be specific language or evidence that you wouldn’t know to include.

Applying for long-term disability is done through the insurance company.  Again, a lawyer might be able to help you submit your claim to ensure that you provide as much information as you can.

Generally, if these applications are denied, you can appeal them through the agency first.  A denial often means that the insurance company or SSA doesn’t have enough information to verify your disability, not that you aren’t in fact disabled.  You can appeal SSDI denials for reconsideration, and you can use the insurance company’s internal appeals process for long-term disability insurance denials.  Ultimately, if things do not go your way, you should speak with a Philadelphia attorney for disability denials right away.

Call Our Pennsylvania Disability Lawyers for Help Today

If you are considering applying for disability benefits, the Bucks County disability lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates may be able to help.  For a free case review, call our law offices at (215) 515-2954.

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