Social Security benefits may improve life after disability

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, can provide additional income to those permanently disabled and no longer able to work and who are receiving workers' compensation, private insurance or other disability benefits. In fact, SSDI benefits have numerous advantages over other disability benefits and can be a good addition to a disabled worker's financial support.

SSDI may extend health care coverage

One of the most important benefits SSDI may provide is an extension of COBRA health care insurance coverage. When a worker leaves a company, he or she can apply for COBRA coverage for 18 months as a way to extend health care insurance coverage. If the worker qualifies for and receives SSDI benefits, COBRA can be purchased for another 11 months, extending coverage to 29 total months. After that, the worker is eligible for Medicare coverage, regardless of his or her age.

SSDI has cost-of-living increases

Often, the workers' compensation and disability pensions disabled workers receive are not adjusted for inflation. This can make it hard for those receiving benefits to make ends meet. However, SSDI benefits are adjusted for inflation through a cost-of-living adjustment based on the Consumer Price Index. This increases a beneficiary's monthly income over time compared to workers' compensation or disability pension benefits.

SSDI benefits do not affect retirement or survivors benefits

Usually, retirement benefits that are available through Social Security once a worker reaches 65 are calculated using the worker's average earnings over a period of time. When disabled workers receive SSDI benefits, their years off of work for disability are excluded when determining their retirement benefits. This means that the retirement, survivors and benefits to dependents will not decrease due to a worker's disability.

SSDI beneficiaries have access to return-to-work programs

Sometimes, a worker's condition may improve to the point that they are able to return to some type of work. SSDI recipients have access to vocational rehabilitation programs and trial work periods to determine their ability to do work without jeopardizing their disability benefits as they test the waters.

For example, a worker currently receiving SSDI benefits is able to work for nine months with no restriction on earnings that would usually affect their qualification for disability benefits. Then, there is a three-month period where the worker continues to work while the Social Security Administration evaluates if he or she still qualifies as disabled under the agency's rules. If the administration determines that the worker is still disabled, he or she can be employed but remain eligible for SSDI benefits in months where he or she makes $500 or less in income.

Other Benefits

The Social Security Administration estimates that about three in ten workers will become disabled before they reach retirement age. Those employed in a job covered by Social Security are able to apply for SSDI benefits once they earn 40 credits with the Administration. Workers in qualified jobs earn about four credits per year.

For example, in 2012, workers earned four credits by earning at least $4,520 in income within one year. Disabled workers can apply for SSDI benefits if they have accrued 40 credits, 20 of which must be earned within the 10 years of becoming disabled. However, younger workers may qualify for benefits with fewer credits.

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can provide increased income and other benefits to those who are disabled and can no longer work. To learn mo re about SSDI and if these benefits may be a good fit for you, contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.