According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a person who has been working for 20 years has a 30 percent chance of suffering from a disability during that two-decade time period. To put it another way, you have a one in three chance of being too sick or hurt to work at some point in your career.
Despite this surprising statistic, many Americans don’t have a plan for supporting themselves and their families in the case of an accident, injury, or illness that prevents them from bringing home a paycheck. While some simply believe, “it will never happen to me,” others think that Social Security disability benefits will be there to support them immediately. Unfortunately, SSDI benefits can take months to receive – or up to three years if your initial claim is denied.
While we can’t predict the future, there are some steps you can take to plan for a disability:
- Build an emergency fund. Experts disagree about how much money you should keep in an emergency fund – many recommend six months of life expenses – but in truth every little bit counts. Even if you qualify for Social Security disability, you may have months or even years of waiting before you get your first check.
- Look after your health. Go to the doctor every year for a check-up. See a professional as soon as you notice a chronic problem, such as back pain or carpal tunnel. Eat right, exercise, and make healthy lifestyle choices to minimize your chance of an injury or illness.
- Have a bear-bones budget ready. If you were to suddenly suffer from a disability, what could you cut out of your budget while you wait for benefits or while you recover? Look at your home costs, your food budget, your healthcare needs, and your discretionary spending.
- Apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. If you have reason to believe your injury or illness will keep you from working for a year or more, do not wait to file for SSDI benefits. Every day you wait is another day that you will be without financial support.
Do you need assistance acquiring disability benefits, but aren’t sure where to start? Contact the Houston Social Security disability lawyers at Morgan & Weisbrod today.
by Paul B. Burkhalter Managing Partner of Morgan & Weisbrod, Board Certified in Social Security Disability Law.