Long-Term Disability and Social Security Disability: The Differences

Long-Term Disability and Social Security Disability: The Differences

When facing a disability that affects your ability to work, understanding your options is critical. You need a source of income but you can’t work. Often turning to disability is your only option. However, which type of disability you need or can obtain can seem confusing.

Understanding the differences between long-term disability and social security disability is a necessity. While both provide financial support, they serve different purposes and have distinct eligibility requirements.

In this article, we will explore the differences between long-term disability and social security disability.

What is Long Term Disability Insurance?

LTD insurance is a private insurance policy that you can obtain through an employer or purchase individually. It provides you with income if you become disabled and are unable to perform the duties of your job. The key feature of LTD is that it protects your income, typically paying between 50-70% of your salary.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

SSDI is a program administered by the federal government. It offers financial assistance to individuals who have a disability that meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict definition of disability. SSDI is funded by payroll taxes and you must have earned enough work credits to qualify.

Eligibility Differences Between Long-Term Disability and Social Security Disability

For LTD, the criteria needed to qualify will depend on your specific policy. Generally, you must demonstrate that your disability prevents you from performing your job or any job, depending on the terms of the policy.

Often to obtain LTD, there is a waiting period, known as the “elimination period,” which is the time between the onset of disability and when you begin receiving benefits.

SSDI requires that your disability is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have accumulated sufficient work credits. Work credits are based on your years of work and contributions to Social Security through payroll taxes.

Duration of Benefits

LTD benefits can vary. Some policies provide payments for a few years, while others last until you retire. It’s important to understand your policy’s specific terms.

SSDI benefits continue as long as your medical condition does not improve and you remain unable to work. The SSA periodically reviews your case to ensure your disability status remains unchanged.

Application Process

Applying for LTD involves submitting a claim through your insurance provider, supported by medical evidence and possibly proof of your salary. The insurer will review your claim to determine if you meet the policy’s definition of disability.

For SSDI, you apply through the SSA. This involves extensive documentation, including medical records, work history, and more. The approval process can be lengthy and may require appeals if your initial claim is denied.

Overlap and Integration

Sometimes, you can receive both LTD and SSDI benefits. However, if you qualify for SSDI while receiving LTD, your LTD benefits may be reduced by the amount you receive from SSDI. This is often referred to as an offset.


While both LTD and SSDI provide critical support when you’re unable to work due to a disability, they differ significantly in terms of coverage, eligibility, and application processes. Understanding these differences can help you better understand your options.

If you’re considering applying for disability benefits or if you need help understanding the specifics of LTD and SSDI, consider speaking with a knowledgeable disability attorney.

At Charlotte Disability Attorney Services, we specialize in helping individuals like you secure the benefits they need. Reach out today for expert guidance and support.


Get Your

There are never any fees for you unless we recover benefits. Call us today!

Call Now Button