As many of you know, the Social Security Disability Program is a payroll-tax funded, federal insurance program designed to provide income supplements to people who are physically restricted in their ability to be employed. What you may not realize is that this small amount of monthly income is just the beginning. For many of your patients, SSD may also provide Medicaid or Medicare health insurance. By helping your patient obtain social security benefits every doctor that treats your patient will be paid, including you! That is a huge benefit to the entire health care system and your bottom line.
Some of the most common conditions in cases from coronary artery disease, to orthopedic/neurologic disabilities include cancer, heart disease, arthritis, neuropathic injury or significant orthopedic injuries, diabetes mellitus, depression and anxiety, and even breathing disorders. If your patient has any condition that limits their functional capacity in a way that significantly interferes with their ability to complete their activities of daily living and/or their ability to work, there is a strong likelihood that they will qualify for the program.
Here are a few quick guidelines to help you when considering if a patient of yours is a good candidate.
1. The patient must have worked and paid Social Security taxes.
If a client has been working under the table or not filing taxes on his/her earnings, that person will not be covered for disability insurance.
2. The patient must have worked the past 5 out of 10 years.
A client must have paid enough money in taxes into the Social Security system to be covered under Social Security disability insurance. The general rule is if someone has worked five out of the past 10 years he/she will be covered.
3. The patient must have stopped working full time within the past 5 years. Social Security insurance is similar to car insurance in that you are covered under the program for a limited time period, which is generally five years from the date you stopped working full-time. Many patients make the mistake of waiting to see if they will recover from their illness or injury. They often wait so long that they are no longer covered under the program so it is important that they apply as soon as possible.
4. The patient must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability.
- The patient must have a severe physical or mental condition that prevents him/her from working. That means the individual is prevented from doing both past job duties as well as learning new tasks; AND
- The patient must be out of work for at least 12 months or expected to be out of work for 12 months.
Getting disability is not an easy task for the average person and often times, the most vulnerable patients are those working hard physical labor jobs. You are the greatest resource many of your patients have for sustaining not only their health but their future wellbeing.
Elizabeth Gormley, Esq is the Director of Social Security Disability and Veterans Affairs benefits at the LaBovick Law Group. Elizabeth can be reached at (561) 625-8400 or EGormley@LaBovick.com for a free consultation to answer your questions about the program.