Should I File for Social Security Benefits if I'm on Long Term Disability Insurance Claim?

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What's the difference between Social Security benefits and Long Term Disability Insurance benefits?

There are several types of insurance that generally get lumped into the same lot: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Retirement Benefits. Most people only hear the term "social security" in the context of retirement and don't know that they may be eligible for other types of benefits if disabled.

Here are a few key differences between the different types of disability benefits:

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Pays benefits to anyone who qualifies as disabled and is funded by money that is paid into the social security system through paycheck deductions. 

Social Security Retirement (Retirement Benefits): You can qualify for social security retirement benefits starting at age 62 regardless of your status (disabled or not disabled). The amount of your social security retirement benefits depends on how much you paid in during your lifetime. Social Security Retirement generally requires at least ten years of working.

Supplemental Security Income SSI: This is a benefit available to people who are disabled and it is a needs-based benefit, as opposed to the other types of benefits that are awarded based on what you've paid into the system (entitlement).

Long Term Disability (LTD) benefits generally come from an employer-sponsored plan and can be awarded alongside these other types of benefits, but the long term disability carrier will require a credit taken, or reimbursement, if the two types of benefits are being awarded at the same time.

Which we think is total B.S. - your employer paid your premiums on the long term disability insurance plan as part of your employee benefits so you should be entitled to the full benefit amount. But, unfortunately that's the law.

My long term disability claim has been approved. Will I have to pay back my social security disability?

Most of the time it will take longer to be approved for SSDI than it does for long term disability, unless your long term disability claim is denied after an appeal of the initial denial.  If you are awarded SSDI after you have gone on claim with long term disability insurance, the LTD carrier will take a monthly credit for the amount you are getting under SSDI and will likely require a reimbursement for benefits paid if you are awarded a lump sum under SSDI. It gets complicated and frustrating for the claimant so if you have questions, you should give us a call at 202-393-3320 and we will get you started on the right path.

Most long term disability insurance carriers will require you to file for SSDI, which is another part of the B.S. that insurance companies get away with. You should be prepared for this if you are going on claim for LTD.

A lot of long term disability insurance companies will have you use a social security disability lawyer they recommend. Be careful on this - some conditions that may qualify you for social security disability may be excluded or severely limited under your long term disability plan (especially certain types of mental illness).

Like everything else, find a lawyer you trust for your social security case.

If my long term disability claim has been denied, what are my next steps?

If your claim is denied, send a copy of the denial letter to our Director of Client Services, Brooke Birkey, at [email protected] so we can review it for free and let you know what we think your next steps should be.

If you don't already have a copy of your medical records, you should request them immediately and start to index them, or have a family member help you index them if you have cognitive issues or chronic pain. You want to make sure your conditions are covered properly by your medical notes, and your doctor is consistently indicating that you cannot work due to your covered  medical conditions. Your medical records will be the core of your appeal (but there is a lot more involved in this appeal), and if your case is ultimately filed in federal court, that appeal will be the administrative record the federal judge reviews to decide your case.

Don't wait - you likely only have 180 days to appeal, and if your medical records are not in order you need to get started right away. Give us a call at 202-393-3320 if you need help with your next steps. 

Frank R. Kearney, Attorney-at-Law
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Experienced DC Workers' Comp, Long Term Disability & Accident Lawyer