Disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA) are only available to people who are disabled for 12 months or longer and who have an impairment that meets severity level requirements.
Your temporary disability may last a year or may be shorter in duration. The type of disability benefits for which you should apply depends on how long your medical condition is expected to be out of work.
Employer Sponsored Short-Term Disability Plans
Many, though not all, employers offer disability insurance for their employees. If your employer carries short-term disability insurance, then this would be the first place for you to file a claim, especially if your disability isn’t expected to last 12 months or longer. Contact the human resources department at your place of employment for additional information on filing a short-term disability claim and applying for a medical leave of absence under FMLA.
State and Local Disability Programs
If you live in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, you may have state-funded disability programs available to you, dependent upon your circumstances. Some other states have assistance programs that offer monetary support to low-income residents who are also faced with serious medical issues. Paid medical leave is available in Washington, D.C., and other locations have unique programs as well. The exact resources available to you vary by state, but you should investigate all your options.
Social Security Disability Benefits
If you have a medical condition that will put you off work for 12 months or longer but is expected to improve eventually, then you have a temporary disability. The benefits you may receive from the SSA would be temporary then too, lasting only as long as you meet the SSA’s medical eligibility requirements. In other words, when your qualifying medical condition improves, your benefit eligibility will cease. In the mean time though, you could potentially get the support you need through the SSA’s disability programs.
Getting Help with a Social Security Disability Claim
A disability lawyer or advocate in your home state can help you determine available local and state options for financial support when you’re temporarily disabled. He or she can also help you know whether you should start a claim for Social Security disability now, even if you don’t know yet how long your temporary disability will last.