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the-social-security-disability-mythMany Americans rely on Social Security disability benefits – but if you think you’ll be able to depend on Social Security if you’re ever unable to work, you might need to think again. The program has strict rules, and many people don’t qualify. Here’s why workers need to get their own paycheck protection instead of counting on Social Security.

Social Security Only Covers Total Disability

Social Security doesn’t cover partial or short-term disabilities. Only people who have a medical condition that’s expected to last for at least one year or result in death are eligible for benefits. Additionally, if the Social Security Administration determines that the applicant could still perform other work, the application will be denied.

This means that many people who are unable to work because of an injury or illness may not qualify for Social Security. Consider the following possibilities:

  • A pilot loses his license because of a medical condition, meaning he can no longer work as a pilot. His medical condition doesn’t meet Social Security’s strict disability requirements, but with the right private disability insurance policy, he could be covered.
  • A woman experiences extreme pregnancy complications that prevent her from working for several months. She doesn’t qualify for Social Security benefits because she is expected to recover in less than a year, but she cannot afford to go for months without a paycheck. If she had short-term disability insurance, she could be covered.

Many Applications Are Denied … Eventually

The Social Security Administration says that it can take three to five months to process an application for disability benefits.

That’s a long time to wait when you’re in need of funds. And after all that waiting, there’s a good chance your claim will be denied. Only about 23% of claims are approved initially.

If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision – but that’s going to mean a lot more waiting, and you’ll probably still be denied. Only about 34% percent of applications are ever approved, including both claims that are approved initially and claims that are approved on appeal. This means that around two-thirds of all applicants get nothing after months of waiting for a decision.

The Social Security Administration Expects You to Have Other Resources

The Social Security Administration says, “Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, and investments.”

If your injury or illness isn’t work-related, workers’ compensation won’t help you. That means you need insurance, savings and/or investments. Few people have the savings and investments needed to cover a prolonged period without work. That leaves insurance.

Are You Falling for Other Myths, Too?

Believing that Social Security will cover you if you become disabled is just one myth. Many Americans currently believe other myths about disability insurance, too. Set the record straight. Get the Five Disability Insurance Myths handout now and share it with your clients.

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