If you are looking for more information on disability claims, you might end up spending a good deal of time tracking down details on information that will eventually be irrelevant to your disability needs. In many cases, this is because there are fundamental differences between different disability benefits, policies, & plans.

As the person fighting for your disability case, you might not realize this distinction right away. For that reason, here are the four types of disability benefits you are most likely to find information about online, explained.

Short-Term Disability

In the grand scope of disability, except for VA service-connected disability compensation, this is most commonly the first benefit people see, utilize, and pursue after an injury.

Short-term disability can be purchased as a separate policy on its own, but it is most often part of an employee’s benefits package through their employer.

When an injury, illness, or condition occurs that results in the inability to work, many plans/policies will require workers to exhaust sick-time. After which they may collect short-term disability if there are no excluding conditions.

Most short-term disability policies will cover their beneficiary for 2-months ~ 2 years. And pay around ~80% of pre-injury salary.

You can file for Social Security Disability and Long-Term Disability while on Short-Term Disability. However, you should consult a disability attorney to understand how all the different benefits might work with or against each other.

Long-Term Disability

Whereas short-term disability typically takes a couple of weeks to kick-in, long-term disability policies usually take up to 3-6 months to begin (appeals are another story altogether). Many employer benefits packages offer long-term disability policies as optional extra insurance in case of a more catastrophic or long-lasting injury occurs.

That particular idea, a catastrophic injury or illness is subjective. For instance, a surgeon who loses the use of their dominant hand due to injury would have experienced an incredible loss of ability to perform the work they have been trained to do and are skilled at. This point is only used in this particular article to highlight that there are a lot of nuances to long-term disability that is not present in the other three forms of disability. Long-term disability attorneys are particularly helpful in navigating these waters! Especially if they have a thorough understanding of ERISA.

There are many different ways a long-term disability policy may be structured. With definitions concerning the type of injury, type of protection, length of protection, amount of protection, appeal process, and much more all being variable.

Social Security Disability

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is similar in some ways to a long-term disability policy. The purpose is to compensate you over a prolonged period of time for a condition, injury, or illness that makes you unable to perform a significantly gainful activity (SGA). This is a technical way of saying work that fits the knowledge, skills, and abilities you possess.

You might imagine that one person would judge someone’s ability to perform SGA differently than another person, and you would be correct. It is for this reason that in many locations throughout the United States there are backlogs longer than 18 months in appeal hearings for unfavorable decisions by Social Security disability adjudicators.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is often confused with Social Security Insurance (SSI). The main difference between SSDI and SSI, besides the rate of pay, is the requirement of recent work history for the claimant.  In SSDI, there is a recent history of gainful employment, whereas for SSI, there is typically no recent work history (except for age-related recipients).

VA Service-Connected Disability

VA service-connected compensation is unique among the types of disability we are covering in this article. The inability to work as a result of a disabling condition is, in most cases, not a requirement of collecting this benefit.

This benefit is determined by the difference in the level of ability after your military service, as opposed to what would be “normal” ability.

Collecting a service-connected disability benefit would in most circumstances not factor into any of the disability benefits discussed in this article.