Disability Benefits
Certain individuals who are no longer able to work because of an injury are entitled to disability benefits. To qualify for disability benefits, an individual must be so severely injured that he or she cannot work any more. Temporary injuries that occur at work are covered under workers' compensation benefits.
There are two sources of disability benefits. The first is through disability insurance, which can be purchased individually, but is more often provided to an employee by the employer. In the typical scenario, assuming that the injury was work-related, disability benefits would begin after workers' compensation benefits are exhausted. The injury, however, does not have to be work-related to qualify for disability benefits, and it can be either physical or mental. Most policies provide that an individual must be unable to work for at least one year. Also, remember that the worker must not be able to do any work any more. If the injured person can no longer perform his or her job, but can perform another job, with equal pay and benefits, he or she will generally not be entitled to disability benefits.
The other source of disability benefits is through two government programs, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and disability insurance through Retirement, Survivors, and Disability Health Insurance. They are similar and, in some circumstances, an individual can receive benefits from both programs.
SSI applies only to individuals who can prove that they have a financial need for the benefits and who are 65 years old or older, blind, or disabled. Thus, a disabled person is entitled to the benefits, regardless of age, if he or she can prove financial need. The definition for being disabled is an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determined physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months."
Illinois has a program called State Supplemental Payments, which is designed to help disabled Illinois residents whose needs are not being by the federal programs.
The disability insurance through RSDHI has similar rules for qualifying, except that it applies only to those who became disabled before reaching age 25. The disabled person's children and survivors can receive benefits, under certain conditions.
Disabled individuals who need help with medical bills should also consider the benefits available through Medicare. Although Medicare is usually thought to apply only to the elderly, it does provide some benefits to the disabled.