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The importance of disability benefits

Knowing what to do in circumstances of an unexpected disability is important for individuals in Pennsylvania facing an unexpected inability to work and mounting medical bills. There are different disability options, and one is Social Security disability. Social Security disability (SSD) is a program through the federal government that provides disability benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a permanent disabling condition.

In addition to having a disabling medical condition that prevents them from working, applicants for disability must also have the necessary work history to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Workers earn work credits while working and paying into the Social Security system. Disabled individuals must also suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from gainful employment and is expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death.

Disabled individuals must be unable to earn an income greater than $1,130 a month due to the disability they suffer from. Benefits will vary, because they are calculated for each worker based on their average lifetime earnings, which varies for each worker. Benefits range from $700 to $1,700 a month and average $1,171 for 2017. The maximum benefit for 2017 is $2,687. Work requirements also vary and may be different for younger workers.

It is important for disabled workers to apply for benefits as soon as they are eligible for benefits, because the process can be lengthy and 60 percent of initial applications for benefits are denied. In addition to the application process, the Social Security disability process also involves an extensive appeals process, making it important for disabled individuals to understand both the application and appeals processes to help them obtain disability benefits when needed.

Source: CBS News, "When a sudden disability ends your income," Ray Martin, Oct. 12, 2017

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee