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, 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 find out what other benefits you might qualify for.

If you’re not employed, contact your local independent living center or Chat with a Hub expert.

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 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 provide 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 in the work day, alternative work schedules, screen readers, head phones, 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:

  • The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the federal agency that administers all Social Security programs and Medicare.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that pays a cash benefit for people who have low incomes and are disabled, blind, or at least 65 years old. SSI is based on a person’s financial need, not their work history.
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that pays a cash benefit when you can't work because of a disability. You have to have worked in recent years and paid payroll taxes for a certain amount of time to be eligible for SSDI.