Applying for Disability

Applying for disability benefits can include private or government benefits. In the US, certain employers must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) depending on if they're a public entity or a private entity of a certain size. 

The FMLA ensures that "eligible" employees are allowed to take off 12 weeks in any 12 month period if they experience a serious health condition such as a debilitating stroke. It is good to know that family members may be eligible to take time off work under FMLA to care for a family member that has experienced stroke. To find out more about FMLA, you can visit  

Private Benefits

If you have disability insurance through your place of employment, contact your human resources department for instructions regarding application for disability. If you're not sure about your benefits, definitely call HR to find out about any coverage you may have.

If you have private disability insurance that you have previously purchased on your own, check with your insurance agent to help you apply for benefits.

Government Benefits

The US Social Security Administration pays disability benefits through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration, one must be unable to do any substantial work due to a medical condition and the medical condition has to last one year or be expected to last one year. SSDI is for insured workers, their disabled surviving spouses, or children of disabled/deceased workers. SSI is for people with little or no income and resources. Find out more about the two programs and apply online, visit 

Applying for Disability Pitfalls

Social Security benefits can be denied for the smallest of errors. In fact more people are denied than are accepted. It is important to know if you qualify for benefits and how to appropriately fill out forms. Review forms you fill out for any errors and don't leave blanks. Make sure you have gathered all necessary medical information from doctors, therapists, surgeries, imaging studies, etc. that back up your claim. In addition, be very specific in your description of how your disability has affected your daily life (e.g. can no longer work, walk, maintain house, play or take care of children, perform self-care, can only use one arm for tasks, have frequent falls, etc.)  It would be helpful to have an advocate or attorney experienced with disability benefits to help you fill out the appropriate forms or review your forms before submitting to minimize delays from mistakes and to prevent denial. 

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