I Have a Short-Term Disability, Why Can’t I Get Disability Benefits?

Researcher & Writer
February 18, 2016

Because temporary compensation programs exist for those in need during short-term disability periods, the Social Security Administration does not pay temporary disability benefits.

With options available that will pay wage replacement benefits, worker’s compensations, medical treatment, insurance policies and more, workers or their dependents do have options of support during these times of disablement.

Social Security assumes that this is available and reserves any benefits paid through Social Security only for those who meet a strict definition of disability.

Social Security’s definition of disability is based entirely on a person’s inability to work, so it’s extremely strict. A person only meets it if

  • He or she cannot do the work that was once done
  • Social Security decides that the worker cannot adjust to other forms of work because of the medical condition, and
  • The disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

The severity of a condition also plays a large role in determining whether a worker will receive Disability Benefits from Social Security or other short-term options.

To be considered severe, the disability must significantly limit the ability to perform basic work activities, which can include lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering.

A short-term disability might be limited by many of the above stated, but not hindered entirely.

The condition will also typically be listed on the Administration’s Listing of Impairments, which is a comprehensive list of medical conditions and circumstances that automatically mean a person is disabled and ready to receive benefits. Because most of the impairments are either permanent or likely to result in death, they automatically meet the Administration’s strict definition.

The listings do not refer to any short-term or temporary disability.

Additionally, although the list is a point of reference for determining the severity of a condition, it is not the final determination for disability insurance from the Social Security Administration. Should a condition not be listed, it must be determined that the impairment’s severity is equal to a medical condition that is on the list.

Should a worker’s condition be too short a term to receive Social Security Disability Insurance, federal and state governments have developed plenty of programs, services, and government agencies that provide disability benefits for those in need.

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