The Social Security Administration's policy requires early intervention and adequate support to be provided to workers with disabilities to enable adequate worker's retention objectives.
This way the Disability Insurance (DI) claimants can be supported to perform some type of work under substantial gainful activity and earn a handsome livelihood on their own. However, in case a DI claimant's disability is severe enough to prevent them from working under SGA (determined by the hours worked, nature of work and earnings amount), even after worker's retention objectives, then they will be considered as eligible for SSDI benefits by the SSA.
How getting Laid-Off affects your chances of winning SSDI benefits?
Hundreds of thousands of young and old American workers have faced unemployment crises due to fierce markets and low job skills in the recent years. Adding the Covid-19 pandemic to the game, the amount of people getting laid-off due to worsening economic conditions of their employer companies has resulted in many of them getting laid-off. However, the worse thing about getting laid-off is, workers are laid-off due to economic reasons, but many of them are unable to find their jobs or similar jobs back (that they did previously) due to increased competition and saturated supply of job positions. You can read more about this here.
As a result, millions of these low-skilled laid-off workers turn to disability insurance (DI) benefits as a refuge from the side blow due to the layoffs in recent months. A research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found out that approximately 45-50% of laid-off workers are younger DI claimants, particularly aged between 40 to 45 years, who are not seeking disability because the layoffs immediately affected their health. Instead, these young workers are among the many mediocre-skilled and average-salaried individuals who have been ignoring their ailments, disability conditions or impairments due to being unable of getting a layoff themselves since they desperately needed to live paycheck to paycheck. So, when these workers get layoffs due to the deteriorating economic situation in the job markets (for instance during the Covid-19), combined with reduced worker's compensation benefits and low medical support, the situation of the laid-off workers worsens medically. This is why they find it hard to be able to resume working on previously held jobs even if they do have the skill sets required to take up those jobs again.
A report conducted by the Social Security Administration found out that among the laid-off workers who eventually win DI benefits due to the above reasons, eventually never exit the SSDI process even if they can. This is why the SSA requires worker's retention, particularly in the form of Trial-Work-Period or the Ticket-to-Work program and consistent updates to be provided about the DI claimant's earnings to the SSA even after they have won the SSDI benefits. Another reason why these DI claimants are not able to return to their jobs is due to the obvious lack of health care for laid-off workers. Also yet, the SSA does gauge a claimant's ability to perform any other kind of work that they can take up by 'working around' their disabilities. Let us take a look at how each case works.
Lack of Medical Healthcare for Laid-off Workers
Due to the unfortunate circumstances related to economic crises in the job market, it is obvious to state that DI claimants applying for SSDI benefits in a down economy will almost always have reduced healthcare facilities than average disability claimants. However, due to the fact that almost 90% of the laid-off claimants have little to no medical records since they had ignored their ailments in trying to keep up with their jobs in a survival mode, they find it harder to convince to the SSA that their disability/impairments or conditions are severe enough to prevent them from earning a substantially gainful income. The SSA requires claimants to have sufficient medical records and written statements about the limiting affects of their disabilities by their respective doctors or psychiatrists. However, since most of the laid-off workers have not visited a doctor regularly, they find a hard time in getting sufficient medical proves for their disability application.
Work History is Important for Laid-Off Workers
It is true that the SSA requires a person to be unable to earn substantially in order to be eligible to apply for disability benefits. However, the Social Security Administration will also be interested to see the previous work history of a claimant whether or not they meet the disability eligibility at the time of application. This is to gauge whether a disability claimant was a hard worker – also, this tells the SSA that the claimant did have a solid work history and would have rather worked than receive disability benefits, if they could work indeed. This would also lend credibility in a DI claimant's disability application that they are indeed no longer able to work. In contrast, if an applicant has a sporadic work history, this can suggest to the disability examiner that the applicant indeed lacks the motivation to work and does not want to work hard.
Getting Disability for Laid-Off Workers – Who has a high chance of winning benefits?
So, while the SSA will analyze a laid-off worker for all the medical and non-medical requirements for an SSDI benefits program, it will also look at the above factors such as work history, healthcare facility available to the claimants, etc. According to a report by AARP, older workers are more likely to win the disability claims after lay-offs due to the obvious physical and financial limitations that may come with old age in not only trying to get hired back by their employers but also seeking good healthcare facilities with no source of income and deteriorating health situation.
Another factorial situation leading to this research is the fact that the SSA will expect younger workers (below 40 to 45 years of age) to bounce back with some kind of work instead of quitting work altogether. In contrast, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of jobless persons increased to 2.6 million during the last 14 to 25 weeks, 70-75% of workers aged between 40 to 55 are already unable to work from home(due to the fact that hundreds of these workers have already suffered from layoffs due to the Covid-19 pandemic). In fact, many of these workers who were either working on daily wages or undertaking high-stamina demanding jobs such as construction workers, conductors, hotel staff, cleaners, wait staff etc, who had underlying ailments such as degenerative disk disorder, lower back pain, hip pain, etc while waiting to work a few years before retirement will find it more difficult to regain jobs such as desk staff, clerks etc.
Applying for Disability Benefits for Laid-Off Workers
While laid-off workers might not have a long medical history backed by evidence, they might still win disability benefits if they are able to the prove to the SSA that their condition is indeed disabling enough. This may mean supporting medical evidence such as CT Scans, MRI scans, and written statements by supportive doctors or psychiatrists and even in some cases, statements from previous employers may also help.
However, in addition to having strong medical evidence, a DI claimant should also be able to represent their case properly. Most DI claimants make the mistake of navigating through the complicated process of disability applications on their own, which often leads to a rejection of their SSDI application.
So, if you or your loved one needs help in filing a disability insurance application or appeals process following a layoff, you might consider in getting help from a social security disability attorney right away.