Readers may be surprised to learn that American workers have a 33 percent chance of suffering death or some form of disability before they are able to retire. Unfortunately, many workers have neither the savings nor the private disability insurance that would help offset the wages lost from their inability to work after such an injury. Social Security Disability Insurance is a government program that can help replace lost income in the event of a major injury or illness.

Social Security Disability is funded by tax-paying workers when they pay the Social Security tax on their income, so it is available to most American workers. However, not all injuries or illnesses will qualify for SSD benefits. There are certain medical requirements that must be met, such as the inability to work for more than a year. For those who do qualify for SSD benefits, though, the program can make a tremendous difference.

The SSD program is particularly crucial as workers age. Although the number of workers in any given five-year age bracket between 25 and 65 is about the same – 15 to 20 million – the number who are disabled increases dramatically with age. Many of these older, injured workers rely on SSD to replace a portion of their income. Disabled workers aged 60 to 65, for example, rely on SSD benefits more than any other age group.

Navigating the SSD program can be daunting, especially when there is uncertainty about whether an injury or illness qualifies for the program. An experienced attorney can explain the benefits and medical requirements. They can also help guide applicants through the process and navigate challenges that may occur. Not every case that qualifies for SSD is cut and dried, so an expert opinion can be an important step in the process of applying for benefits.

Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, “Chart Book: Social Security Disability Insurance,” Accessed on Dec. 8, 2017