Will Social Security Disability Be Enough To Support You After An Accident?

Law Blog

If you've invested in life insurance but not disability insurance, you may have your priorities skewed; although few American adults will unexpectedly pass away during their prime earning years, nearly one in five U.S. adults has a documented disability, and many of these individuals have become unable to hold down gainful employment post-disability. Your ability to earn an income is likely one of your most valuable assets, which makes having insurance even more important. Read on to learn more about some of your income options after suffering a permanently disabling injury or illness. 

Social Security Disability/Supplemental Security Income

For those who have been in the workforce for a number of years prior to developing a disability, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits may be a viable option. These benefits are structured much like Social Security retirement benefits, providing recipients with a set monthly benefit based on the recipient's earning history prior to claiming benefits. 

It's important to note that SSD benefits are available only to those who have a work history in a Social Security-covered position; some states exempt certain public employees from Social Security taxes, leaving them unable to claim these benefits as a result. By that same token, someone whose wages are primarily in cash or barter and who does not pay Social Security taxes on these wages will not be eligible for SSD unless he or she has a sufficient work history prior to earning these cash wages.

Once SSD benefits are claimed, the recipient may continue receiving these benefits until retirement age, at which SSD is converted to straight Social Security retirement (albeit based on the amount you would have gotten had you claimed Social Security at age 62 rather than full retirement age). These benefits will then continue for the rest of your life.  

For those who are ineligible for SSD benefits for whatever reason, another option may be available: Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is meant to provide a subsistence-level income to those who are legally disabled but who aren't otherwise eligible for disability benefits. SSI benefits aren't based on earning history, and SSI eligibility is based on the presumption that the recipient has no other way to earn an income; as a result, those receiving SSI are unable to accumulate much in the way of liquid assets.

Private Disability Insurance

Another option for those who don't want to depend upon Social Security for disability funding is the purchase of a private disability insurance policy. This insurance, much like life insurance, is designed to allow you to replace your income and pay medical expenses after suffering a disability; if you're unable to return to work, you may also qualify for long-term disability benefits of a proportion of your pre-injury salary. These insurance policies may be available through your employer and can also be purchased directly from the insurance provider or through a broker.  

Personal Injury Settlement

If a disabling illness or injury was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another individual or a company, your best option may be to file a civil tort lawsuit. If the defendant is found liable for your injuries, you'll be awarded compensatory damages that will cover your medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. In some cases, especially if the defendant's conduct was particularly egregious or if more than one plaintiff was affected, you may be able to recover punitive damages—the amount of which is not based on any financial losses you've suffered.  

You'll then be able to use your settlement proceeds to fund your future without worrying about collecting on an insurance policy or divesting yourself of assets to qualify for SSI benefits.If you're having difficulty collecting on a private disability insurance policy that you already have, contact a law firm like Iler and Iler for assistance.


11 July 2017