My firm gets countless calls of folks who need guidance concerning the various disability programs that they have heard about.  Here is a short summary of each of the most common.

1.  Short Term Disability:  This is a benefit through the Employment Development Department for the State of California (the same people who handle unemployment benefits).  For many of us who work in the state of California, a deduction is taken out of our paychecks for this program.  If you find yourself temporarily disabled or unable to work for a period of time (following an injury, accident or illness), you can draw these benefits.  The amount you draw is based upon the amount you paid in and the maximum amount of time that the benefit can be paid is 12 months.   Qualifying for this benefit is relatively easy.  You submit an application (most people start the process online).  Once that is done, the EDD will contact your doctor for his/her opinion concerning your disability.  If he/she agrees that you are temporarily disabled and unable to work, then the benefit is typically paid.  Some people draw this benefit while simultaneously applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits in an effort to have some income while they pursue the permanent disability claim.

2.  Long Term Disability Benefits:  These are typically private insurance policies offered through some employers.  If your employer offers these benefits and you opt into a plan, then you can apply for benefits if you become disabled.  Generally speaking, these plans have very rigid definitions of disability and I hear from folks in Vacaville, Fairfield and Vallejo that they often have to hire an attorney to fight for the benefits.  In addition, many of these plans require that a person also file for Social Security Disability benefits as they often have a clause in which they are permitted to seek reimbursement for monies paid to the disabled worker out of the disability benefits paid by the Social Security Administration.

3.  Permanent Disability Benefits:  This term is simply another way of saying Social Security Disability benefits.  Most of the time, SSD benefits are intended to be for a permanent disability and thus the terms are often used interchangeably.

4.  Social Security Disability Benefits:  These are permanent disability benefits paid by the Social Security Administration to an individual who is “insured”, or who has worked enough quarters in a recent enough time period to be eligible for the benefit.  You must have a serious, disabling condition that precludes you from earning more than a small amount of income.  In addition, your condition must have lasted at least a year, be expected to last at least a year or be expected to result in death.  The amount of the benefit is based upon what you paid into the system.  If you qualify for SSD, you also qualify for medical benefits via the Medicare (if you choose to pay the small premiums).

5.  Supplemental Security Income:  This is another permanent disability benefit provided via the Social Security Administration.  However, unlike Social Security Disability, you are not required to have any work history to qualify for this benefit.  However, you are required to have extremely limited assets and income to be eligible for this benefit.  It is typically paid at a much lower rate than SSD and certain income or assets that you acquire can render you ineligible for the benefit.  This is the benefit that is available to disabled children.  In terms of medical benefits, this program comes with MediCal, only. 6.  Closed Period Disability Benefits:  If an individual suffers an injury or illness that lasts at least one year but does not result in a permanent disability, they can seek a benefit from the Social Security Administration for what is a called a “closed period of disability”.