The Social Security Disability Insurance program is supposed to help workers who are unable to return to work in their full capacity. This program is administered by the Social Security Administration and is paid for by deductions from worker paychecks and employer contributions. Despite the fact that workers have paid into the system, they have to wait to collect these benefits if something happens and they need them.

People often confuse the SSDI program with private disability insurance. They both provide important protections, but many people don’t understand the benefits of these programs. There is more to both types of disability insurance than just the partial wage replacement benefits.

Wage replacement differences

While private insurance replaces an average of 60 percent of a person’s wages, determining what SSDI benefits will pay involves a formula that takes a number of factors into account. One of the factors is the person’s work-related earnings. The private system and the SSDI system are meant to work together so that beneficiaries don’t end up with benefits that are greater than the wages they were earning when they were working.

Encouragement to return to work

The goal of SSDI is to enable the recipient to return to work if possible. Benefits can continue when the person isn’t able to support themselves with a job, but the Ticket to Work program through the SSDI is available to help workers ease back into the job force. There is a 9-month trial work period that begins the programs. From there, the worker moves through different phases. The full program can take more than 60 months to work through, in some cases. There are protections that the workers can enjoy that would help them to preserve their SSDI benefits if they determine that they can’t continue to work.

Variety of conditions

People tend to think that SSDI is for individuals who have suffered a serious injury, but it is also possible for a person who has a serious illness to qualify for benefits. The key point is that the condition must be a long-term condition, which means it is expected to last at least a year, and prevent the person from having gainful employment.

When these conditions are met, the person can begin the process of applying for SSDI in California but should remember that the majority of cases are denied in the initial decision. This triggers the need for an appeal, which takes considerable time to work through.