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What does it mean to be totally disabled?

Here in the United States, residents are lucky enough to have access to several programs that provide benefits to someone who becomes disabled because of an injury, illness or medical condition. Things like disability insurance policies, workers' compensation benefits and other programs for veterans or railroad workers all provide benefits in the event of a disability.

But what about if you become disabled and do not meet the requirements of these programs or services? How would you support yourself financially if you became unable to work because of your disability? Furthermore, are there other programs that you might be eligible for that can provide you with helpful benefits?

It's these questions, as well as the one in the title, that we hope to answer in today's post. Let's begin.

Are there other programs for people with disabilities?

Yes. The Social Security Administration offers two programs for people with disabilities: Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability. Although both programs provide disability benefits to people who cannot work because of their condition, each program has specific sets of requirements that determine who is eligible for benefits and who is not.

Eligibility for SSDI and/or SSI benefits is based on whether a person's condition fits the SSA definition of a disability. It's important to point out however that SSDI and SSI only pay out benefits to people who are considered totally disabled, not living with a short-term disability.

What does it mean to be totally disabled?

A person is considered to be totally disabled if their condition does the following:

  • Prevents a person from being able to work
  • Prevents a person from being able to adjust to other work
  • Lasts at least one year or results in death

It's important for our readers to understand that even if you think that you meet all of these requirements, your application may still be denied. This could happen because you are missing certain information necessary to make a favorable decision or because there is a mistake on your application.

If you feel your claim was wrongly denied, you do have the right to appeal and may seek legal counsel before doing so.

Source: The Social Security Administration, "Disability Benefits," Accessed Sept. 18, 2014

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