Getting Health Insurance while on Disability Benefits

By Michelle Shvarts
Principal Attorney

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will fundamentally change the conditions that influence Americans to apply for federal disability insurance benefits. Because disability insurance confers health insurance in addition to cash benefits, it is an attractive option for many individuals with work-limiting disabilities. At the same time, leaving employment to apply for disability insurance benefits (a requirement for application) can be risky for those who obtain health insurance through their employers, making it a relatively unattractive option for others.

By enabling access to affordable private health insurance and expanding access to subsidized public health insurance, the ACA alters the calculus of disability claiming decisions. Whether it will lead to more or fewer applications for disability benefits is not clear yet. 

The social security administration, SSA runs many programs providing benefits to those in need. These include social security disability, SSDI, supplemental security income, SSI, Medicaid and many others. SSA has provided over 60 million American’s the benefits today. Among these a vast majority were covered under social security disability. Those covered under SSDI receive monthly payments in cash to make sure that they remain financially stable despite their disabilities.

You may have other health insurance programs and thankfully they do not affect your SSDI. If you qualify for social security, you may keep SSDI benefits while also applying or getting benefits under other health insurance programs under SSA, that is programs like Medicaid. This means that you can pay your hospital bills, routine checkups, medical tests and physician fees through your health insurance programs without having to surrender your SSDI which covers your disability.

While your health insurance does not affect your SSDI, if you qualify for other non governmental institutions that cover a percentage or whole of your disabilities then you stand a risk of losing your SSDI benefits as you will already become financially stable through other programs. To see whether you qualify for social security you can read here.

SSDI requires a 29-month period from the onset of the disability to the determination of eligibility, where “onset” is the time of starting of your disability defined by your SSA examiner as the intersection of two events: occurrence of a qualifying health condition and cessation of meaningful work. This means that workers who have a health condition that limits their ability to work face a difficult dilemma (often referred to as “employment lock”): They can either attempt to keep working in spite of their impairment to maintain health insurance from their employer or they can stop working to apply for SSDI and risk an extended period of time without insurance.

Conducting research for social security and applying for SSDI can be tiresome when you are already undergoing depression and anxiety because of your disability.

Our social security attorneys have vast experience of the SSDI filing that can help you avoid the mistakes that you may otherwise make. If you are considering for applying to the SSDI benefits, you may contact our social security attorney at Disability Advocates Group law firm (DAG).

About the Author
Ms. Shvarts is the managing attorney for Disability Advocates Group. She opened Disability Advocates Group to assist individuals who became disabled and unable to work to obtain the benefits they need and deserve.  Ms. Shvarts and the rest of the team at Disability Advocates Group are dedicated to assisting individuals obtain Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.