The Social Security Disability program offers financial assistance to workers who have been injured or become ill and are unable to work for long periods of time. It is different from California's workers' compensation program, which only addresses injury and illness that occurs while on the job. Rather, Social Security Disability Insurance - or SSDI - is a federal program that is administered by the Social Security Administration or SSA.
Where employers fund workers' compensation, SSDI is funded through the federal withholding of workers' wages. Although SSD benefits are available, ostensibly, to any worker who suffers from a long-term disability or illness, most claimants do not actually qualify for benefits - in spite of having paid into the program's trust fund. This is because SSD benefits are limited to specific parameters that must be documented with medical evidence.
The latest figures available from SSA show that over 10 million disabled workers received benefits in 2016. Estimates for 2017 show that the rolls of SSD benefits recipients increased by more than 200,000, even though 820,000 people were terminated from the program in 2016. Beneficiaries received an average of $1,171.15 per month in that year, and the average age of an SSDI recipient was 54.
More men than women - about 52 percent versus 48 percent - receive SSD benefits. Of the 706,4448 awards made in 2016, more than 32 percent were claims based on diseases of connective tissue or the musculoskeletal system. Even such a large number, however, only represents about a third of all the claimants who applied for benefits. The Government Accountability Office, however, found that claimants with representatives - like a lawyer - were three times more likely to prevail at benefits hearings than claimants without.
If you are seeking SSD benefits or were recently denied, it is important to gain information about your rights. This means getting assistance with the initial application or getting help with an appeal. Taking action will ensure your rights are protected.