Find out which program is right for you and how to apply
Most Americans work until they retire.
Unfortunately, a relatively small number of Americans suffer a disabling injury that forces them to stop working early.
In 1935, the Social Security Act (SSA) was signed into law — in part, to provide financial assistance to individuals who are no longer able to work.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the most common programs created under the SSA and some similar state-funded programs. We’ll also take a look at how you can apply for these programs in Indiana, and whether you can receive Social Security benefits and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time.
Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI)
When most Americans refer to “social security,” they’re referring to Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI). OASDI is funded by workers in the form of payroll deductions. The program provides benefits to retirees, but also individuals with disabilities.
To receive retirement benefits, you must be 62 years old for partial benefits, or between 65 and 67 for full benefits. If you were born before 1950, you can receive full benefits at age 65. If you were born between 1950 and 1960, you become eligible for full benefits at age 66, and those born after 1960 become eligible for full benefits at age 67.
To receive OASDI benefits before retirement age, you must be completely disabled and unable to work.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides financial assistance to people who are unable to work because of a long-term disability. The benefit is available to people who’ve paid into the Social Security system for at least 5 of the past 10 years before an injury.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is similar to SSDI, but it’s only available to people who are disabled and don’t have a consistent work history. In other words, if you haven’t worked enough to be eligible for SSDI, you might be eligible for SSI.
Who is considered disabled?
To be eligible for disability benefits (through OASDI, SSDI, or SSI), you must be “totally disabled.” The SSA considers you totally disabled if:
- You can’t do to the work you did before your injury or illness,
- You can’t adjust to any other work because of your injury or illness, and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to result in death.
There’s a lengthy list of conditions that automatically qualify you for Social Security disability benefits, but you could also qualify based on a condition that’s not included on the list if you’re able to show that it’s severe enough to meet the SSA criteria.
Indiana state disability programs
State employees who have been employed on a full-time basis for at least 6 months are eligible for short term disability (STD) and long term disability (LTD) through the state of Indiana.
- Short term disability benefits last up to 6 months from the date of the injury and include 60% of your base biweekly gross wage before taxes.
- Long term disability benefits last up to 4 years from the date of the injury and include 50% of your base biweekly gross salary before taxes for the first 2 years and 40% for the 3rd and 4th year.
The purpose of the short and long term disability programs is to provide benefits to state employees until they’re fully recovered, partially recovered, or receiving federal disability benefits.
How does workers’ compensation affect your disability benefits?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that pays medical expenses and lost wages to employees who are injured while doing their job. The vast majority of employers in Indiana are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance.
Eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits is completely different from eligibility for Social Security benefits.
What’s more, you can receive workers’ compensation benefits AND Social Security benefits simultaneously. However, the total amount of these benefits can’t exceed 80% of your average earnings before you became disabled.
How to apply for Social Security benefits
In Indiana there are 3 ways to apply for social security benefits:
- You can apply online
- You can apply over the telephone by calling 1-800-772-1213 (1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing)
- You can visit your local Social Security office and apply in person
Regardless of which method you choose, you’ll need to gather the following information for your application:
- Medical records already in your possession
- Workers’ compensation information (settlement agreement, date of injury, claim number)
- Names and dates of your minor children and your spouse
- Checking or savings account numbers
What if your claim is denied?
We hope your application will be accepted and you’ll receive the benefits you deserve. But if your claim is denied, don’t give up! Once you receive your decision, you have 60 days to appeal.
Here’s what an appeal looks like:
- Reconsideration. Someone who didn’t take part in reviewing your initial application will reconsider your application.
- Hearing with an administrative law judge. If your reconsideration is denied, you can request an in-person hearing with the Office of Adjudication and Review (ODAR).
- Review by Appeals Council. The Appeals Council looks at all requests for review, but it may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision was correct.
- Federal court review. Your last chance at receiving benefits is appealing to the federal district court.
If you believe you’re entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, Social Security benefits, or state disability benefits — or if your request for benefits has been denied — schedule a free consultation with an Indiana attorney near you.
If you need help finding a qualified attorney, head over to the Enjuris Lawyer Directory.