How disability insurance can help pay the bills

disability insuranceOne common concern after receiving a cancer diagnosis is, “How can I continue to earn a living if cancer leaves me unable to work, either for the short-term or long-term?” Disability insurance can provide you with some income when a medical condition, including cancer, leaves you unable to work. The federal government, some state governments, and private insurance companies offer different types of disability insurance benefits.  The key is to figure out which one fits best with your needs and situation. Federal disability insurance includes two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which are both administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).  In order to receive federal SSA disability benefits, your cancer diagnosis and/or side effects from treatment must keep you from working on a  long-term basis, which is at least one year or longer.  You can receive SSDI benefits if you are “insured,” meaning that you have a long enough work history and have paid Social Security taxes.  You are able to receive SSI benefits, if you have a low income, and are age 65+, or blind, or have a disability. If you live in California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, or Rhode Island, you may qualify for short-term disability insurance from the state.  The amount varies per state, but the maximum amount of time that you can receive benefits for a short-term disability is between six to twelve months. Private disability insurance is another option for both short-term and long-term disability insurance benefits, and can be purchased directly from an insurance company or it can be available to you as an employee benefit from your employer.  Some individuals choose to purchase private disability insurance to supplement state or federal disability benefits, since they typically only pay a portion of a person’s income.  For example, the average payout from Social Security benefits is only about 40% of a person’s salary and some state disability insurance programs only pay about 50% of a person’s salary. For a quick guide to disability insurance, click here. For more information about SSDI, click here. For more information about SSI, click here. To find your state disability insurance program, click here.