Self Employed: Preparations To Make In Case of Disability
If you do not have private disability income insurance, you can still obtain it. You may also qualify for a government program.
Now is the time to start planning so you are in control of the disability process if you ever become eligible to obtain a disability income.
Disability Income Coverage
Disability income is available through the following sources:
- Employer benefit plans (in which an employer pays a disability income benefit)
- Private disability insurance policies - both individually owned and through an employer
- Government disability income programs such as Short Term Disability Income, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
If you don't have private disability insurance, you can still get both short term and long term disability covearge if you go to work for a large employer that offers the benefit. Depending on your current health situation, you may be able to qualify for private disability insurance. To learn more, see Disability Insurance. Also see: Seeking Employment
In addition to the private programs, you may qualify for one of the government programs mentioned above. Note: if you don't have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, you can obtain 4 credits in one quarter. If you have too many assets for SSI, there are alternatives for qualifying. To learn more, see: SSDI 101 and SSI.
HowTo Plan In Case Of Disability
Whether you have private disability insurance, the following steps increase your chances of getting a finding that you're disabled when you want it. The sooner you start, the more control and flexibility you'll have if working becomes too difficult.
- If you aren't already, start working with a mental health professional such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist. Such a professional can help provide flexibility about a date when you go on disability since a disabling condition can be emotional as well as physical (or a combination of the two). For example, a depression can be so overpowering that a person can't function, much less work.
- Keep a journal in which you note how your health condition affects your ability to work (and how it affects your daily activities). This journal will become important if you need to apply for disability income. If you aren't up for this task, ask someone close to you to do it for you.
- Tell your doctor about how your health condition affects your work (and daily living) and ask that the information be noted in your medical record. In addition to helping to bolster a case for a disability determination, this information will be helpful to your doctor's delivery of the most appropriate medical care.
When thinking about going on disability, consider the following:
- The timing of when to go on disability involves your health and finances - not morality.
- If you go onto disability, you may lose health insurance if it is work-based. Even an extension of your health insurance through COBRA eventually comes to an end.
- Most private disability policies don't provide for the start of payments until the seventh month after the onset of disability. Think about what you will live on from the time you stop working until then. (Perhaps you can continue your business going at least until that time. See: Self Employed: Handling The Workload).
- You may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). If you receive SSDI, Medicare coverage starts 29 months after leaving work on disability.
- If you have limited income and limited assets, or are willing to reduce your income and assets, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you qualify for SSI, you generally also qualify for Medicaid. SSI may carry you over the period while you're waiting for Social Security Disability income to start.
NOTE: We discuss continuing your work in the event you are temporarily unable to in our article: Handling Your Work Load.