Progressive Disability

Common Pitfalls

Not planning for changes

Planning for your future is important. Even though your condition might not be “disabling” today, what will it be like in 1 year or in 5 years? Will you be able to keep your current job? Are there things you or your employer can do to help you stay in your job longer? Will you need Short-Term Disability Insurance (STD) or Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTD)? Do you have health care coverage and will it pay for the things you need? If you can’t stay in your current job, what other work might you be able to do? What type of training or education will you need to make a change? All of these are important questions to answer. You will need to talk to your doctors or therapists, your employer, and other training and employment resources to find the answers.

If your disability makes it hard for you to keep your job, you may be eligible for counseling, training, job skills, and job placement services through Vocational Rehabilitation.

You can also Chat with a Hub expert.

Not knowing what help is available

There are many resources available to help people with disabilities. It is important to learn about things like the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Short-Term Disability Insurance (STD) benefits, Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTD) benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, employer-based health care insurance, Medical Assistance (MA), and other benefits you may need.

The first place to start, if you’re working, is with your employer’s Human Resources department. They will be able to give you information on any benefits that are available through your employer. For information on other disability benefits, check out DB101's Programs section. You can also go to Bridge to Benefits to learn about qualifying for other benefits.

Not keeping complete records

Before you are on disability benefits, it is a good idea to keep good, detailed records about your health care, your income, and your expenses. When you are on disability benefits, keeping good records is even more important. You will need information about your condition, your health care needs, your income, and your expenses when you apply for disability benefits.

This means that you need to:

  • Keep track of your medical appointments and the outcomes
  • Keep copies of any letters or emails you get from your insurance company, Social Security, or the county
  • Keep records of phone conversations, including the date and time you made or got phone calls and the name of the person you talked to

Basing decisions on misinformation

We often rely on the experience of others to understand how to deal with similar situations. However, this doesn’t always work with disability benefits. What is true for your neighbors about their benefits is not necessarily going to be true for you, even if you face similar circumstances. Benefits programs are different for each person, based on things like:

  • Your work history
  • How much you earn
  • What you own
  • How disabling your condition is
  • How clearly you report the details of your condition to your medical provider
  • How well your medical provider understands or documents these details
  • What benefits an employer offers
  • What benefits you have purchased on your own

To be sure the information you get about disability benefits is accurate and complete, Chat with a Hub expert.

Not talking to your employer about reasonable accommodations

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to assure that people who have disabilities have the same employment opportunities as people who do not have disabilities.

Things like extra breaks during the work day, alternative work schedules, screen readers, headphones, lower shelves, and parking close to the entrance are all examples of accommodations that your employer may be able to offer. You should talk to your employer about accommodations you need now or in the future.

Confusing Social Security program names

Social Security has 3 different acronyms that are easy to get confused:

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