Can I Collect Social Security Benefits and Short Term Disability at the Same Time?

"Social security money"We often assume that people know exactly what we’re saying, even when we’re talking about complicated subjects that may be very unfamiliar. But do you know the difference between Social Security benefits and Short Term Disability payments?

Social Security Disability vs. Short-Term Disability

What is Social Security Disability?

First, Social Security is not for short term problems. People receive Social Security benefits when they can no longer work and are not likely to be able to work at any point in the future. Second, we often forget that the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two major services:  Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability income (SSDI).

SSI is for people who are in severe need of help and have never worked or haven’t contributed enough to Social Security to get benefits.  It scales down depending on how much individuals make and how much in assets they have.  SSDI is a system that pays out when we can’t work because we’ve been paying in for a certain number of years.  While we can’t be making more than a certain amount while collecting SSDI, we can have as much in savings as we’d like. It also doesn’t matter how much our spouses make.

What is Short-Term Disability?

Short-Term Disability is a type of insurance that can make up for lost wages if you are in an accident or you can’t work for a while, but you expect to return to work eventually. It is usually offered through your employer, or you may have to purchase it yourself.

So can we get short term and long term benefits at the same time?

The short answer to this question: Maybe.  There are a few things to consider, like the fact that the Federal Government and the state of Utah don’t provide Short-Term Disability.  Here, short-term disability is a type of insurance in case of injury or illness.  Because it’s provided by an insurance company or through a job, it may have different requirements than we can list here.  For example, your short-term disability insurance may not kick in until after you’ve exhausted all sick days at your place of occupation, or maybe it doesn’t start until 16 days after the last paycheck.  Just about anyone can buy short-term disability coverage. However, because we’re talking about how an insurance company works with the Social Security Administration, the answer to whether or not people can collect both benefits at the same time can be a little harder to find than through a simple web search.

What you need to remember

The most important thing to think about is the time frame.  Most short-term disability insurance policies are designed to cover a few weeks or a month of lost income.  The Social Security Administration uses Social Security Disability income for long-term or permanent disability.  It usually takes several months just for the start of the application process.  The likelihood of both working at the same time is fairly rare.  It can happen though.  Just like when long-term disability insurance is being used and SSDI starts, the insurance company will reduce their payments to you so that the total you receive from both equals the same as what you were getting before.

Here’s an example:

  • Let’s say my short-term disability insurance is paying me 80% of my income from work.
  • I’m receiving $1,100 a month from my short term disability company until Social Security Disability starts and pays me $800 a month.
  • My short-term disability insurance will then only pay $300, so that my total disability income is exactly what it was before.

It’s an interesting dynamic. While the total that your disability insurance pays out will go down, it’s still more than SSDI pays out.  That makes it something important to consider.

This is just one of the complicated parts of our Social Security System. There are a number of pitfalls and complications that can come from Social Security.  As an American you have a right to the money you pay into Social Security when you need it.  That’s what it’s there for.  If you’re having trouble navigating disability, payments, the SSA or you’ve been injured and think you may qualify for disability benefits, please call us at (801) 890-1030 or visit our main site here.  We’d love to help.