If you planned ahead and receive short-term disability payments from a private insurer as a result of an illness or accident, you may also qualify for social security long-term disability benefits under specific circumstances. Social security does not have a provision that covers short-term disability situations; therefore, your private or employer-provided disability insurance benefit may be your only source of income until you can return to work. Reimbursement of benefit payments depends on the terms of your policy.
Since the Social Security Administration does not have a provision to assist a wage earner in the case of a temporary disability, short-term disability insurance, whether privately purchased or obtained through your place of employment, is a viable option. According to information provided by the American Council of Life Insurers, approximately 33 percent of all workers between the ages of 35 and 65 will encounter a disabling condition that lasts more than 90 days. In most cases, short-term disability insurance replaces 60 percent of your income and begins as soon as you become unable to work because of the birth of a child, an illness or an accident.
Whether or not you have to repay benefits received depends on the language in your short-term disability insurance policy. In most cases when you pay for a short-term disability policy and receive benefits, you do not have to reimburse the insurer for benefits received. If you receive social security because you reached retirement age or your disability now qualifies under social security disability criteria, your disability insurance policy may discontinue payments on the date you get your first social security check.
Social Security Disability Benefits
You cannot receive benefits for partial or short-term disability under SSA rules. To qualify for social security disability, you must not have the ability to do the work you did before you became disabled, and you cannot do other work because of your disabling condition. In addition, your condition must be expected to last for one year or result in death. After you apply for disability benefits, the SSA implements a five-step process to determine your eligibility for disability insurance payments. If you qualify, your disability benefits will start on the sixth full month after you became disabled.
Contact the agent who handles your short-term disability insurance policy in advance of filing for social security retirement or disability benefits to determine your status upon receipt of social security benefits. If you receive a lump-sum disability payment that covers a time frame when you received payments under your disability insurance policy, contact your agent for direction on any repayment requirements. Because you cannot receive social security disability benefits until you have been disabled for more than five months, you should file a claim as soon as you become disabled.
Cheryl Withrow is a writer in Michigan’s untamed Upper Peninsula. Following a teaching career she served alternately as editor of the "Washington County News" and the "Geneva County Reaper," and as associate editor of "Bay Life" magazine. Withrow holds a Bachelor of Science in business with a major in accountancy from Wright State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Ohio University.