If you are currently receiving long-term disability (LTD) through your employer or a private plan, you may be wondering about Social Security benefits.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that provides cash payments to people who meet the definition of “disabled,” as laid out by the Social Security Administration (SSA).
SSDI is available to those who have worked long enough to accumulate work credits and thus are considered” insured” through the government in the event of disability.
How can I receive long-term disability (LTD) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) at the same time?
It’s entirely possible to be approved for SSDI while you are receiving long-term disability payments. In fact, if you are currently receiving long-term disability benefits, you may have been told by your LTD provider that you are required to apply for Social Security benefits.
If successful at winning your Social Security claim, your LTD insurance company can offset the amount of money that you are rewarded against your current long-term disability payment.
The majority of long-term disability policies state that the beneficiary will apply for Social Security within a specific timeframe. For example, some insurance companies require that an individual begins the Social Security disability application process after they have been receiving disability benefits for one year.
If you are approved for SSDI, the amount awarded may not equal your current LTD payments. However, it’s often the case that your long-term insurance provider will pay the difference between what Social Security offers and your current long-term disability award. As a result, you are made “whole.”
What does the Social Security Application process look like if I am already receiving LTD?
The application process for Social Security is entirely separate from any application process or information that you may have given to your LTD provider.
You can apply for Social Security benefits in person, on the phone, or online. Once your application has been completed, it is processed through a local state agency responsible for making a disability determination.
Your approval will be largely dependent on your ability to provide adequate medical evidence. Utilizing your medical records and your work history, the SSA will evaluate your claim based on their regulations and policies.
Most long-term disability companies have a financial agreement with an outside vendor who deals explicitly with helping their clients navigate the Social Security application process.
As such, your LTD company will likely assign you a Social Security disability representative to work on your behalf. However, it is important to remember that these vendors have a vested interest in recovering funds for the LTD provider.
The Importance of the Blue Book When Filling Out Your Application
The SSA uses a medical guide, known as the Blue Book, to determine whether or not a condition is severe enough to warrant disability payments. Each condition in the Blue Book lists specific criteria and symptoms that you must have to be approved.
Many of the listings include information on the specific evidence required, such as clinical and laboratory tests.
It is of vital importance to ensure that you have considered the Blue Book requirements when filling out your application. If you are missing any of the required tests or information, it is essential that you contact your doctor to discuss.
While you certainly can add to your application as you go along, providing as complete of an application as possible from the beginning will enhance your chances for approval.
Further, your relationship with your physician is of utmost importance in the process. While the SSA will consider your application as delivered, a significant amount of weight is placed on your physician’s notes and input.
Why should I hire my own lawyer if I am already assigned a Social Security Disability Representative?
A Social Security disability attorney specializes in Social Security law. As they have no connection to your long-term disability company, they will be guaranteed to work on your behalf. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to put your interests first.
Therefore, your lawyer is also your advocate as you navigate the complicated application process.
Further, the criteria for which you were approved for long-term disability benefits through your employer or individual plan is likely to be very different from medical documentation required by the Social Security Administration for approval.
Just because you were approved for long-term disability does not guarantee an SSDI approval. In fact, most long-term policies base their decision on whether or not you are able to perform your current job. However, Social Security criteria are often more particular.
A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate this new application process.
It is possible that once you are approved for Social Security benefits, you may receive a lump sum of money as the SSA may pay you from the time that they determine you were first disabled. However, in most instances, this money belongs to the long-term disability company.
An experienced attorney can help to ensure that you are handling both claims in the best manner. A qualified attorney can assist you in understanding how your SSDI application and benefits will impact your long-term disability benefits, and vice versa.