Federal Disability - A Nice Safety Net
Governments around the world provide a number of programs intended to help their residents who have suffered an illness or injury that renders them unable to earn a living. In Canada, there is the CCP (Canadian Pension Plan) disability program. In Great Britian, disabled workers can apply for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Citizens of Australia have the Disability Support Pension, and workers in New Zealand have that country's Disability Allowance, Sickness Benefit and Invalids Benefit to fall back on. In the USA there are a few different federal disability programs available to residents.
The most well known of those programs is the SSDI or Social Security Disability Insurance program. This is available to those workers who have paid into the Social Security system and their dependents and survivors.
Also available to disabled workers is what's called SSI, for Supplemental Security Income. This program is for disabled individuals who have not accumulated enough credits in the Social Security system to qualify for SSDI and whose assets and income fall below certain levels specified by the program.
Even though these are federal programs, Social Security doesn't make the medical decision regarding whether claimants are disabled. Each state has an agency that serves that purpose, called the Disability Determination Service (DDS). These agencies all apply the same rules and regulations as prescribed by the federal government, however. Social Security will accept the initial claim and make what's called the 'administrative' decision. That means they will determine whether or not the claimant has enough credits in the system, if they are eligible finanacially, when their benefits would start if their claim was approved, how much benefits would be, etc. Social Security then passes the claim to the DDS for further consideration.
The federal government also offers benefits to veterans of the armed forces who have become disabled. These benefit payments are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs, commonly referred to as the VA. The VA Disability Compensation program requires claimants to have been discharged from the service under 'other than dishonorable conditions' and to have a disability that's attributable to either military service or to health care provided by the VA.
In addition to these federal disability benefit programs, there are other options available to US residents. If they have the financial means, they can obtain disability insurance from private issuers to cover them in case they become unable to work. These policies vary greatly in cost and breadth of coverage, so if you're interested, be sure to research the subject completely. There also are workmen's compensation plans administered by all the states that will provide benefits to people who suffer a work-related disablement, and a temporary disability plan is offered in five states, Puerto Rico, and to employees of the railroad industry.