Q: How can the government assist me when I’m unable to work?
Some people plan for their retirement while others either don’t think of it or can’t find the extra funds to do so. But even with the best planning, sometimes life intervenes with an unexpected curveball and de-rails those well-intentioned plans.
If you don't have private or employer-sponsored short- or long- term disability insurance, what can you do if you find yourself physically or mentally disabled and unable to work? Or with an income so low and little to no resources to cover your most basic survival needs?
Fortunately, the government is there to help many qualified individuals and families whose disabilities prevent them from working or who are unable to meet their basic needs.
If you suffer from a physical or mental disability that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance “SSDI” benefits from the government. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must satisfy a three-pronged test:
you must be considered “disabled” (by the government’s definition); and
you must be under 65 years old; and
you must've worked for a period of time (depending on your circumstances) and paid into the Social Security system.
Common physical disabilities classified by body systems that SSDI may cover include Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Hearing or Vision Impairments, Diabetes, Lyme Disease, Cancer and more. Common mental disabilities may include organic Mental Disorders, Schizophrenic Paranoid or Other Psychotic Disorders, Anxiety-related or Personality Disorders, Substance Addiction Disorders, Autism and more.
In addition, people in a low income and resources situation that are 65 or older, or blind, or disabled, maybe eligible for Supplemental Security Income “SSI”. Monthly SSI payments are designed to cover basic needs for those with very limited income and resources. Applicants may encompass people suffering from similar physical and/or mental disorders as those that fall under SSDI.
The impact of receiving benefits through the Social Security Administration can be life-changing or even life-saving. A recent analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities indicated that last year over 22 million Americans rose out of poverty as a result of their Social Security benefits. That figure breaks down to approximately 15 million people 65 and over, 6 million adults between 18 and 64, and 1 million children. In California alone, Social Security benefits boosted approximately 1.2 million seniors over the poverty line.
Nine percent of all children in the United States lived in families receiving Social Security benefits in 2015, including children of parents with a severe disability, survivors of deceased workers, children of retired parents or guardians, those who receive Social Security.
While a lay person can file applications for SSDI or SSI, the process can be confusing and the red tape frustrating. Applications are often denied, but there is an appeals process. A skilled attorney can help navigate the process and may maximize your chances of qualifying for benefits.
Wherever you are in the application or appeals process on a SSDI or SSI claim, the Fresno California law firm of Peña & Bromberg can help. Call our office today at 559-644-0031 for a free consultation. We serve clients throughout Central Valley, California, including San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Bakersfield, Madera, Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento and Modesto.